Twenty centuries after they were written in near-isolation, by unknown authors, in the Judean desert, the Dead Sea Scrolls are being seen by millions of people.
A new exhibition named “Dead Sea Scrolls” opened last week in the Discovery Times Square center (discoverytsx.com), but the true nature of the show is found in its subtitle: “Life and Faith in Biblical Times.”
This exhibit of sacred writings, the earliest known existing copies of the Bible, which went online last month in a digitized form and became an instant hit, has an unexpected human emphasis, with displays of household objects from a loom to sandals, a grindstone and First Temple period idols, revealing not just the history of the scrolls themselves, but of a land and culture where they were created. “We are talking of life … not only artifacts of life,” says Iron Age curator Debora Ben Ami.
The 500 items, many of them in the United States for the first time, also highlight other Abrahamic —Christian and Islamic — religions. And there is a three-ton stone from the Western Wall, in which visitors can leave notes; the notes will be sent to the real wall, in Jerusalem.
The exhibit, created by the Israel Antiquities Authority, gives the sense of a vibrant land rich with history — plus a chance to buy Ahava products in the gift shop.
Discovery Times Square is at 226 W. 44th St. The Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit runs through April 15.