Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Ancient Times

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Gordon Franz examines Psalm 145 at the Franklin Institute Exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Excerpt On display at the Franklin Institute from May 12 to October 14, 2012. ABR Staff Archaeologist Gordon Franz provides commentary and a free study guide from a Christian perspective. Continue reading

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The fantastic Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Ancient Times exhibition at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia is about more than just the Dead Sea Scrolls; it is about daily life in the Biblical world. The subtitle — “Life and Faith in Ancient Times” — says it all. The exhibition runs from May 12 to October 14, 2012.


The Bible is more than just another book with black (and sometimes red) letters on a page. The Bible is about real people, in real places, experiencing real events in history. Sometimes, because of our twenty-first century Western mindset and experiences, it is difficult to imagine how people lived in Biblical times. For example, the LORD metaphorically searched Jerusalem with lamps (Zeph. 1:12). When we think of a lamp, we think of a stand with a shade and a socket with an electric light bulb that illuminates when a switch is flipped. In the Biblical world there was no electricity, only olive oil and a wick to light the oil lamp. This exhibition will give you an idea of what those lamps actually looked like.


Through the exhibition you will get a glimpse into the material culture of the Biblical world and add a third dimension to your Bible study! You will also be able to experience “Oh, now I see [literally] what the Bible is talking about” moments!


As an archaeologist and a Bible teacher, I was fascinated by the whole exhibition, which is on loan from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). I was able to view some of the latest archaeological discoveries from Israel for the first time, objects that I had only read about in the newspapers or in the archaeological journals.


A Guide for a Self-Guided Tour


I have written a 38-page guide specifically for an Evangelical Christian audience. The guide can be used for a self-guided tour of the exhibition by home-schooled students, Christian school classes, Bible study groups, Sunday school classes, church youth groups, and individuals who are interested in the world of the Bible. Please feel free to download the guide and visit this incredible collection of rare objects from Israel that illustrates life and faith in Biblical times.


Dead Sea Scroll Study Guide in MS Word

Dead Sea Scroll Study Guide in PDF


Where, When, and How Much?


The Franklin Institute is located at 222 North 20th Street in Philadelphia. The exhibition is open daily from 9:30 AM to 5 PM and will run from May 12 to October 14, 2012.


Ticket prices are $31.50 for adults, $25 for students. Groups save more than 25%. To reserve tickets for individuals of Groups of 15+, you can call 215-448-1200 or email Visit for more information.


Headsets are available for an audio tour of select objects with commentary by Professor Lawrence Shiffman of Yeshiva University; Professor Bill Dever, retired from Arizona State University; and Professor Ronnie Reich of Haifa University and the Israel Antiquities Authority. Headsets may be rented for $6 apiece.


For pictures of some of the objects on display:

Click on Media:

User: press

Password: scrolls


Franklin Institute DSS.doc (282.00 kb)

Franklin Institute DSS Study Guide.pdf (374.09 kb)

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6/25/2012 1:33 PM #

I wish I could go to see this exhibit again but I cannot. I saw the Dead Sea Scrolls on December 18, 2012 with my Dad in the Discovery Times Square Expo. When we walked in, I saw Genesis 12:2 in Hebrew and heard it, then in English. We then saw the canopic jars, ossuaries, coins, altars for sacrifices, and housewares. Then we saw all of the Biblical and other scrolls. They were the same as what the Bible says today. But the greatest moment was reading and hearing the world's oldest copy of the 10 Commandments. (Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5) When I got to the machine and pressed the buttons to hear it read in english, I was amazed to hear Exodus 20:5-6, "You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them, For I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, and showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love me and keep my commands." Everything made me cry deeply throughout. But I cried more in more loving peace than I ever thought possible in my lifetime. There was a man standing next to me at that moment. But I didn't care. It was even more special because I had recently learned earlier that year God is love and he loves me through a little girl singing "All I Ask Of You" from Phantom of the Opera. (I John 4:16, John 13:36) Then I had studied from I Corinthians 13, just how much God's love extends throughout the whole world. This exhibit showed me that love in a big way. Then I touched the Western Wall and placed this prayer there. I wrote, "Dear God, please help Michael Bellitto to know that you are a father to the fatherless and a husband to the widow. Let him see that you are his Abba Father and Jesus your son wants him to have an abundant life. In Jesus' name, Amen. Afterwords, my Dad and I bought at the gift shop, the hardcover of the Dead Sea Scrolls Bible and a dove flying over Jerusalem ornament, bought lunch at a deli, ate at a red table in the middle of Times Square and went home. It was the best day of my life. Never had I felt such peace, joy and love before. All people have to see this exhibit. Even thinking about it makes me cry. I'm so glad you got to see it.

Ross Kunkler - 6/25/2012 1:33:36 PM

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