Theological Seminary is to unveil three newly acquired biblical Dead Sea Scroll fragments.
The more than 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls were found in the 1940s in caves in Israel overlooking the Dead Sea. The scrolls include the earliest known version of portions of the Hebrew Bible. They have shed light on Judaism and the beginnings of Christianity.
Southwestern spokesman Thomas White said the fragments acquired Tuesday include Scriptures from the books of Exodus, Leviticus and Daniel.
When asked how Southwestern was able to get the fragments, President Paige Patterson said "I can only say that God must have smiled on us."
"Any piece of the Dead Sea Scrolls is significant because it shows us what the state of the Hebrew text of the Bible was 2,000 years ago, which gives us a way to measure whether or not they've been faithfully transmitted over the last 2,000 years," Weston Fields, executive director of the Dead Sea Scrolls Foundation, said in a statement.
"And what they do tell us is that there has been very little change," Fields says. "They show how faithfully the Bible has been transmitted."
"It makes us the center for Dead Sea Scroll research" says Patterson.
Southwestern is one of three U.S. institutions to own scroll fragments and the only evangelical seminary in the nation to have fragments with biblical text, White said. The University of Chicago and Azusa Pacific University in California also have pieces of the scroll.
"If this thing is put together nicely, a display is made, you will find thousands of people flocking to Texas not just to see the Super Bowl, but to see the Dead Sea Scrolls" says scroll expert Peter Flint.
Southwestern purchased its fragments from a private collector for an undisclosed amount and is in negotiation for future pieces.
"We have a lot of hidden treasures that very few people know about here in Fort Worth," White said, noting that the seminary has other ancient documents, including cuneiform tablets.
The scroll fragments will be displayed in a campus library that is part of a 3,500-seat chapel Southwestern is building.
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