When a Roman Catholic scholar involved in the Dead Sea Scrolls Project discovers a heretical message contained in one of the Scrolls he hides it. Decades later, a prominent archeologist discovers reference to the scroll in an archeological dig. This discovery spurs the world religions into a dangerous game of cat and mouse, in which all who seek the hidden scroll are mysteriously silenced, leaving the salvation of humankind to a father and son, who must either find the hidden scroll … or die trying.

Five More Reasons To Excited About The Dead Sea Scrolls

3. The Dead Sea Scrolls excite the imagination. They speak of a Teacher of Righteousness, believed by some scholars to refer to either Jesus or James. They also speak of the Teacher of Righteousness’ antagonist, variously identified as the “Wicked Priest,” the “Man of Scoffing,” “The Man of the Lie,” “The Spouter of the Lie,” and “The Priest who Rebelled.” Some scholars believe these euphemisms refer to Paul, whom the scrolls describe as having been excommunicated from the early Christian church. Now . . . wait a minute. If Paul was an enemy of Jesus or James, and was excommunicated from the early Christian church, what does that say about Trinitarian Christian canon, which is primarily based on the teachings of Paul?

Five More Reasons To Get Excited About The Dead Sea Scrolls

2. Modern biblical scholarship demands re-evaluation of the Old and New Testaments. Scholars such as Bart D. Ehrman and Bruce Metzger have exposed numerous errors and inconsistencies in both the Old and New Testaments. Some of these errors are significant enough to challenge orthodox Jewish and Trinitarian Christian beliefs. In the context of this scriptural and canonical uncertainty, every bit of evidence helps. Again, the Dead Sea Scrolls help in this regard.

Five More Reasons to Get Excited about the Dead Sea Scrolls

1. Modern discoveries shed light on their importance. The oldest and most authoritative New Testament manuscripts found to date, the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus codices (what’s a codex, plural: codices? A scriptural manuscript in book form, as opposed to scrolls), were discovered in the nineteenth century, long after the most popular version of the English Bible, the 1611 King James Version, was written. These codices throw into question or, in some cases, frankly negate issues that were assumed by many to be religious certainties. Given this new knowledge, biblical textual criticism is experiencing a resurgence of interest. Many new facts have been exposed, some of which are of such importance as to be considered religiously revolutionary. The Dead Sea Scrolls, like a critical piece of an unfinished jigsaw puzzle, helps to fill in our understanding of the Christian Bible.

A thriller based in the Amazon jungle that raises issues of culture clash Reader's Review of The Returned

Charles Ashbacher (Marion, Iowa United States)

The format of the story is that of an aged black man retelling the primary adventure of his youth. 

In 1965, before there were cell phones, GPS tracking devices and when the Amazon was truly a dense unexplored and unexploited region, a professor led a research team deep into the area. It was a prospecting expedition, paid for by a chemical company and their goal was to take soil samples and bring them back for study. The narrator is a black man named Nathan, his twin brother Mark has joined him in the expedition and they are at the lowest positions in the mission hierarchy. There are two reasons for this, the first is that they are students and the second is that they are black. Two of the other members of the expedition are white boys from the south, full of all the prejudicial views such people of the time grew up with, after all it is 1965.

Once they leave the river and begin the trek through the forest, the danger begins. With the exception of their translator that has been given the name Tonto, none of their guides can be trusted. When they arrive at a native village, their reception is always problematic; they have no idea if they will be aided as friends or killed as enemies. With the exception of their professor, none of the members of the expedition has had any experience in surviving in the jungle.

Death stalks them at every turn, sometimes it slithers, other times it swims, but most of the time it walks on two legs and resembles their form. As the difficulties mount, the white men come to depend on the two black men and a strong bond is formed as they must struggle to find their way through the jungle and avoid the many dangers.

The story is a thriller that will keep your attention and there is a second tense moment that occurs decades later when Nathan is forced to come literally face-to-face with the consequences of his actions during the expedition. So much has changed in the Amazon in those decades and going back now means that you have the aid of modern devices such as cell phones and GPS trackers. The Amazon area has also dramatically changed, development has moved deep into the forest and displaced many native tribes.

Adventures like this can now only be undertaken in retrospect, as the modern world has encroached on nearly every location. This one reminds us of what happens when cultures clash, even when the clash is not physical. It is a great story of adventure, struggle and a form of triumph.

Reader's Review: A truly factual fiction

Hashim Sulieman (WNY, NJ USA)

The Eighth Scroll is a factual fiction, based on true accounts, presents factual information in a way that reads like a novel: a combination of storytelling and reporting. Intellectually challenging. Discusses Faith on a logical base. Connects dots or simply raises a fundamental point.
I was fascinated by the style, enormous and rich information. You will be certain the author had actually traveled and studied history , culture and scriptures. It is rather a scientific research review than a novel. I dug on Wikipedia a lot - and still!.

Author’s Note on the Dead Sea (i.e., Qumran) Scrolls and the “Teacher of Righteousness”

From the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Damascus Document and the Pesharim (“commentaries,” singular: pesher) date the Essene community’s birth to 390 years after the destruction of Jerusalem. Since Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 BCE, that would put the community’s inception at 196 BCE (before the Common Era—the zero point of the Gregorian calendar). These documents describe a “Teacher of Righteousness” having appeared twenty years later, which would place him at 176 BCE: “. . . yet for twenty years they (i.e., the Essenes) were like blind men groping for the way. And God observed their deeds, that they sought him with a whole heart, and he raised for them a Teacher of Righteousness . . .”

Other scholars consider these dates unreliable, point out that both Jesus Christ and his disciple, James, could be considered “Teachers of Righteousness,” and suggest that one of these two might be the Teacher referred to in the Dead Sea scrolls. To support this assertion, they point out that numerical errors in the Bible are not only abundant, but canonized.

For example, II Samuel 8:4 and I Chronicles 18:4 describe the same event in biblical history, but one documents 700 horsemen, and the other 7,000. Are we to assume that somewhere in time, a scribe flubbed a zero in copying the biblical manuscripts? No, and for a simple-enough reason. Numbers in ancient Hebrew were written longhand. “Seven hundred” in ancient Hebrew is ‘sheba’ me’ah’ and “seven thousand” is “sheba’ eleph.

Numerical errors in the Old and New Testament manuscripts are word disparities, not numerical disparities. The Bible authors did not employ the so-called Arabic numerals, which were not yet invented, and the mathematically revolutionary zero dates to 933 CE in any case.

So is the above error an isolated example? Not at all. II Samuel 23:8 and I Chronicles 11:11 differ between 300 or 800 men; II Samuel 24:9 and I Chronicles 21:5 differ between 800,000 and 1,100,000 in one instance and between 500,000 and 470,000 in another; I Kings 4:26 and II Chronicles 9:25 differ between 40,000 and 4,000. And these are just a few of the more glaring numerical errors in the Bible—disparities of 6,700 in one case, 500 in another, peaking at a whopping discrepancy of 300,000 and then dropping back down to a still spectacular error of 36,000.

In the face of such obvious discrepancies, scholars reasonably argue that an error of two hundred years falls well within the realm of scriptural tolerance.

So could the “Teacher of Righteousness” described in the Dead Sea Scrolls be Jesus or James? And could the “Wicked Priest,” the “Man of Scoffing,” “The Man of the Lie,” “The Spouter of the Lie,” and “The Priest who Rebelled” all refer to Jesus’ antagonist, Paul? Could those who “seek smooth things” be a euphemism for Paul’s followers, in line with the quote, “This concerns those who were unfaithful together with the Liar, in that they did not listen to the word received by the Teacher of Righteousness from the mouth of God?”

If we understand “the word received by the Teacher of Righteousness from the mouth of God” to refer to revelation, then yes, we can very well match these descriptors with Jesus and Paul, not on the basis of scriptural dating, which can be inconclusive, but on the basis of the old adage, “if the shoe fits, wear it.”

After all, the Damascus Document reveals that the “Teacher of Righteousness” claimed to be the one through whom God would convey “the hidden things in which Israel had gone astray” (DC 3.12-15). And was this not Jesus’ declared purpose—his raison d’être? Was it not Jesus Christ who told us that he was not sent “. . . except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel?” (Matthew 15:24) And is this not the whole point behind the chain of revelation—to correct the corruption of preceding revelation, at each and every interval?

Further discussion is beyond the scope of a work of fiction. However, for those who wish to pursue the subject, I offer two books of comparative religion, MisGod’ed and God’ed, to be read in that order.

And may God guide all those who turn to Him in sincerity, seeking the truth of His revelation.

Reader's Review: Third book I've read by this author


Hooked and intrigued from the moment the elder spoke to Jacob .. But, I don't like spoilers nor the subjective views of others (with agendas) it's easy to see why this is a best seller and I can think of only one way to separate fact from those attempting to poison the well!


Khirbet Qumran, meaning ‘ruin of’ Qumran, sits on a plateau at the top of an irregular border of limestone cliffs beside the Dead Sea. Many of these cliffs contain caves which, given their location, are accessible only with difficulty. To the West lies the Judean Desert, and to the North is a mountain that houses the Qumran caves numbered 1, 2, 3, and 11.

Five Reasons to Get Excited About The Dead Sea Scrolss


The keepers of the scrolls were slaughtered after hiding them away in the caves. In essence, they died to preserve the scrolls. Sooo . . . they must have held the scrolls with slightly more reverence than, say, the scriptural equivalent of comic books, right? So what was so precious about the Dead Sea Scrolls – not to us, but to their keepers? Was there a deep, dark secret they were willing to die for? Or were the scrolls just that holy? Either way, we should want to know.

Five Reasons to Get Excited About The Dead Sea Scrolls


Major interest groups don’t want you to know about them. But let’s face it: If someone tells you not to look at something, isn’t that the first thing you want to do? Well, many interest groups don’t want you to look, or at least, not too deeply. Visit the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibits, admire their preservation, appreciate their antiquity, but then move on to the Phoenician glass exhibit. Do anything but delve into the scrolls’ history, their meaning. Some scholars who have disclosed secrets contrary to the sanctioned “official version” have claimed the whistleblower punishment of academic persecution. Are free-thinkers like Robert Eisenman and Michael Baigent quacks, as Israel’s religious authorities would like us to believe, or clear-minded scholars who sound the call of reason? Eisenman’s The Dead Sea Scrolls and the First Christians makes clear his lofty level of scholarship, while Baigent and Leigh’s The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception renders plausible the claim of a “conspiracy of consensus.” For several decades, scholars decried Israel’s delay in releasing the scrolls to the public; the work of these authors, among others, provides powerful evidence to support the theory of an academic scandal. Why were Israel’s authorities so slow to release the Dead Sea Scrolls? If you believe the revisionist scholars, Judaic and Trinitarian Christian authorities have good reason to fear the secrets of the scrolls.

Five Reasons to Get Excited About The Dead Sea Scrolls


There may be undiscovered scrolls still hiding out in the Holy Land. Scholars estimate as many as twenty of the caves at Qumran were lost, together with their contents, due to collapse. Being collapsed, these caves cannot be found unless excavated by accident. Caches of scrolls may exist elsewhere in the Holy Land, as well. However, Israel’s stranglehold on this flow of information has resulted in scholars leveling charges of academic and/or religious conspiracy.

Five Reasons To Get Excited About The Dead Sea Scrolls


They’re incomplete. Even the best preserved scrolls have holes in them and are missing sections of text. The library of Dead Sea Scrolls looks like an unfinished jigsaw puzzle. Who knows what essential information is missing? Nonetheless, the texts we have hint at mind-boggling religious concepts.

Five Reasons to Get Excited About The Dead Sea Scrolls


They’re old. So what? Yeah, well, I understand. Grandpa’s old, but the only one who’s excited about him is grandma, and even there, the magic wore off twenty years ago. But the key is not the age of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Rather, it’s the bloody, tumultuous period in which they were hidden away. It was 68 CE, and Judea was in the middle of its revolt against Roman rule. Emperor Nero, infamous for his persecution of the Christian/Jews in the wake of the great fire of Rome, assigned General Vespasian to sweep the Roman legions across Judea and wipe out Jewish insurgency. Midway through this campaign, Nero was deposed and committed suicide. With the Roman Empire in upheaval and the Jews of Judea waging civil war as well as combating the Roman onslaught, the keepers of the scrolls hid their treasured scriptures in the caves at Qumran (the area of the Dead Sea where they were found).

New find sheds light on ancient site in Jerusalem

Click image for more photos

JERUSALEM (AP) — Newly found coins underneath Jerusalem's Western Wall could change the accepted belief about the construction of one of the world's most sacred sites two millennia ago, Israeli archaeologists.

The man usually credited with building the compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary is Herod, a Jewish ruler who died in 4 B.C. Herod's monumental compound replaced and expanded a much older Jewish temple complex on the same site.

But archaeologists with the Israel Antiquities Authority now say diggers have found coins underneath the massive foundation stones of the compound's Western Wall that were stamped by a Roman proconsul 20 years after Herod's death. That indicates that Herod did not build the wall — part of which is venerated as Judaism's holiest prayer site — and that construction was not close to being complete when he died.

"The find changes the way we see the construction, and shows it lasted for longer than we originally thought," said the dig's co-director, Eli Shukron.

The four bronze coins were stamped around 17 A.D. by the Roman official Valerius Gratus. He preceded Pontius Pilate of the New Testament story as Rome's representative in Jerusalem, according to Ronny Reich of Haifa University, one of the two archaeologists in charge of the dig.

The coins were found inside a ritual bath that predated construction of the renovated Temple Mount complex and which was filled in to support the new walls, Reich said.

They show that construction of the Western Wall had not even begun at the time of Herod's death. Instead, it was likely completed only generations later by one of his descendants.
The coins confirm a contemporary account by Josephus Flavius, a Jewish general who became a Roman historian. Writing after a Jewish revolt against Rome and the destruction of the Temple by legionnaires in 70 A.D., he recounted that work on the Temple Mount had been completed only by King Agrippa II, Herod's great-grandson, two decades before the entire compound was destroyed.

Scholars have long been familiar with Josephus' account, but the find is nonetheless important because it offers the "first clear-cut archaeological evidence that part of the enclosure wall was not built by Herod," said archaeologist Aren Maeir of Bar-Ilan University, who was not involved in the dig.

Josephus also wrote that the end of construction left 18,000 workmen unemployed in Jerusalem. Some historians have linked this to discontent that eventually erupted in the Jewish revolt.

The compound, controlled since 1967 by Israel, now houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the golden-capped Muslim shrine known as the Dome of the Rock. The fact that the compound is holy both to Jews and Muslims makes it one of the world's most sensitive religious sites.
The dig in which the coins were discovered cleared a Roman-era drainage tunnel that begins at the biblical Pool of Siloam, one of the city's original water sources, and terminates with a climb up a ladder out onto a 2,000-year-old street inside Jerusalem's Old City. The tunnel runs by the foundation stones of the compound's western wall, where the coins were found.
The drainage tunnel was excavated as part of the dig at the City of David, which is perhaps Israel's richest archaeological excavation and its most contentious.

The dig is being carried out inside the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, and is funded by a group associated with the Israeli settlement movement that opposes any division of the city as part of a future peace deal.

The excavation of the tunnel has also yielded a Roman sword, oil lamps, pots and coins that scholars believe are likely debris from an attempt by Jewish rebels to hide in the underground passage as they fled from the Roman soldiers.

Dead Sea Scrolls may have been written by mysterious sect

It has been debated for centuries, but scholars think they are one step closer to discovering who wrote The Dead Sea Scrolls.

The world's oldest known biblical documents may have been penned by a sect called the Essenes, according to scholars who studied material discovered in caves at Qumran, in the West Bank. 

Scholars previously believed the 2,000-year-old scrolls were written by a Jewish sect from Qumran in the Judean Desert and were hidden in the caves around 70AD, when the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem.

Discovery: The research focuses on textiles discovered in Qumran, Israel
Discovery: The research focuses on textiles discovered in Qumran, Israel

But this new research says that all the textiles are made of linen, rather than wool, which was the preferred textile used in ancient Israel. The Dead Sea Scrolls consist of nearly 900 texts, the first batch of which were discovered by a Bedouin shepherd in 1947. They date from before A.D. 70, and some may go back to as early as the third century B.C. Orit Shamir, curator of organic materials at the Israel Antiquities Authority, and Naama Sukenik, a graduate student at Bar-Ilan University, published their research comparing materials in journal Dead Sea Discoveries.

Analysis: Orit Shamir and Naama Sukenik looked at the materials of the scrolls discovered in Qumran
Analysis: Orit Shamir and Naama Sukenik looked at the materials of the scrolls discovered in Qumran
The pair compared the white-linen textiles found in the caves to other found elsewhere in ancient Israel, and they discovered some parts are being bleached white, even though fabrics from the period often have vivid colours, Live Science reports. But not everyone agrees with their diagnosis. Some believe the linen used could have come from people fleeing the Roman army after the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, and that they are in fact responsible for putting the scrolls into caves. Shamir and Sukenik were able to focus on the 200 textiles found in the Dead Sea Scroll caves and at Qumran itself, knowing that these are the only surviving textiles related to the scrolls. They unearthed that every single one of these textiles was made of linen, even though wool was the most popular fabric at the time in Israel. 

A fragment of the Isaiah scroll - the most famous of the Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in the mid-twentieth by shepherds
Debated: Scholars are divided as to who authored the scrolls (pictured is a fragment of the Isaiah scroll - the most famous of the Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in the mid-twentieth by shepherds)

They also found that most of the textiles would have originally been used as clothing, later being cut apart and re-used for other purposes such as bandages and for packing the scrolls into jars. 'They wanted to be different than the Roman world,' Shamir told LiveScience. 'They were very humble, they didn't want to wear colorful textiles, they wanted to use very simple textiles.' 'This is very, very, important,' Shamir said. 'Patching is connected with [the] economic situation of the site.'

Shamir pointed out that textiles found at sites where people were under stress, such as at the Cave of Letters, used in a revolt against the Romans, were often patched. On the other hand 'if the site is in a very good economic situation, if it is a very rich site, the textiles will not be patched,' she said. The textiles are of high quality and, based on the archaeological finds at Qumran itself, where there is little evidence of spindle whorls or loom weights, the team thinks it's unlikely they would have been made at the site. She explained that the textiles were likely created at another site in Israel, with women playing a key role in their production. This suggests that there were few women living at Qumran itself as weaving is connected with men and women, but spinning was only a done women. 

The first fragments of the scrolls - seen inside the vault of the Shrine of the Book building at the Israel Museum - were reportedly sold for under £10 by the shepherds who found them. Their value to scholars is incalculable

Reader's Review: Probably the best novel I've ever read...

At first I thought perhaps my fascination with and enjoyment of The Eighth Scroll was prejudiced by my recent immersion into Lawrence Brown's captivating style when I read his non-fiction books Misgod-ed and God-ed. After finishing Dr. Brown's first novel (anxiously awaiting more...), I read a New York Times Best Seller in a similar genre by a widely acclaimed author who has seen several of his novels made into popular action movies, and was somewhat surprised to discover it paled in comparison to the intrigue, character development, plot consistency and credibility, and... yes, writing style that I enjoyed in The Eighth Scroll. Then, while being entertained, I was also learning, as Dr. Brown weaves some very interesting historical facts into his fictional story.

The plot centers around a purported Dead Sea scroll, the contents of which would provide conclusive support to other extant evidence that undermines commonly espoused but controversial versions of the life and mission of Jesus Christ. A surprising collection of individuals and groups would, and do, kill to gain control of the scroll, and the reader is kept on edge as the plot develops to its exciting climax. Speaking of which, it is also very refreshing to know there is an author who can include romance in his works without feeling compelled to appeal to assumedly deprived readers' desire for graphic descriptions of certain acts and anatomy. This book is exciting, entertaining, and laugh-out-loud funny throughout... and even if read only for those reasons, I truly believe that, as I did, all readers will discover they continue to think about it long after turning the last page.

The Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls

In the spring of 1947 Bedouin goat-herds, searching the cliffs along the Dead Sea for a lost goat (or for treasure, depending on who is telling the story), came upon a cave containing jars filled with manuscripts. That find caused a sensation when it was released to the world, and continues to fascinate the scholarly community and the public to this day.
The Qumran Site and the Dead Sea
The Qumran site and the Dead Sea.

The first discoveries came to the attention of scholars in 1948, when seven of the scrolls were sold by the Bedouin to a cobbler and antiquities dealer called Kando. He in turn sold three of the scrolls to Eleazar L. Sukenik of Hebrew University, and four to Metropolitan Mar Athanasius Yeshue Samuel of the Syrian Orthodox monastery of St. Mark. Mar Athanasius in turn brought his four to the American School of Oriental Research, where they came to the attention of American and European scholars. 

It was not until 1949 that the site of the find was identified as the cave now known as Qumran Cave 1. It was that identification that led to further explorations and excavations of the area of Khirbet Qumran. Further search of Cave 1 revealed archaeological finds of pottery, cloth and wood, as well as a number of additional manuscript fragments. It was these discoveries that proved decisively that the scrolls were indeed ancient and authentic.
Qumran Cave 4
Qumran Cave 4.

Between 1949 and 1956, in what became a race between the Bedouin and the archaeologists, ten additional caves were found in the hills around Qumran, caves that yielded several more scrolls, as well as thousands of fragments of scrolls: the remnants of approximately 800 manuscripts dating from approximately 200 B.C.E. to 68 C.E. 

The manuscripts of the Qumran caves include early copies of biblical books in Hebrew and Aramaic, hymns, prayers, Jewish writings known as pseudepigrapha (because they are attributed to ancient biblical characters such as Enoch or the patriarchs), and texts that seem to represent the beliefs of a particular Jewish group that may have lived at the site of Qumran. Most scholars believe that the Qumran community was very similar to the Essenes, one of four Jewish "philosophies" described by Josephus, a first century C.E. Jewish historian. Some have pointed to similarities with other Jewish groups mentioned by Josephus: the Sadducees, Pharisees, and Zealots.

We do not know precisely who wrote those sectarian scrolls, but we can say that the authors seemed to be connected to the priesthood, were led by priests, disapproved of the Jerusalem priesthood, encouraged a strict and pious way of life, and expected an imminent confrontation between the forces of good and evil. 

The Qumran Site
The Qumran archaeological site.

The Qumran library has proven to be enormously informative. From these texts we have increased our understanding of the transmission of the Bible, we have learned more about the development of early Judaism, and we have gained insight into the culture out of which emerged both Rabbinic Judaism and Christianity. 

Photographs by Bruce and Kenneth Zuckerman, West Semitic Research. 

Commentary by Marilyn J. Lundberg.

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A fascinating and fun read for those who love religious thrillers

By Midwest Book Review

Truth is something that is battled for everyday. "The Eighth Scroll" tells the story of archeologist Frank Tones and his pursuit of the lost scroll of the famed Dead Sea Scrolls. But when bodies begin to turn up and people are silenced, the good of history seems to be no match for corruption and lust for power. "The Eighth Scroll" is a fascinating and fun read for those who love religious thrillers.

Dead Sea Scrolls, 'Jesus Tomb Ossuaries' on Display in New York


| FoxNews.com

Baz Ratner, Reuters -
Sections of the Dead Sea Scrolls on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem in 2008.

For the first time ever, some of the most priceless -- and delicate -- writings from biblical times went on public display Friday.

It's part of "Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Biblical Times," an exhibition at the Discovery Times Square in New York City. Comprising roughly 500 artifacts, some dating back more than 3,000 years, it is one of the most comprehensive displays of artifacts from ancient Israel ever assembled.

"We wanted to piece together history," says Risa Leavitt Kohn, a professor of religious studies at San Diego State University and one of the show's curators. The objects in the exhibit range from pottery and ancient altars to tomb artifacts (which some have speculated may be from Jesus' tomb) to the show’s centerpiece -- the Dead Sea Scrolls.

For many, viewing selected sections of the scrolls will be an enlightening experience. Ten sections are on display, ranging from text that later appears in both the Jewish and Christian Bibles to poems and rules for community conduct.

Among the scrolls are remarkable, non-biblical documents, such as the Book of War, which details an apocalyptic battle between angels representing good and evil. Also on public display for the first time are pieces of Aramaic Levi, in which a father explains priestly duties to his son, and Apocryphal Lamentations, ancient poetry concerning the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BC.

"We wanted to show a sampling of all the different kinds of texts that are part of the Dead Sea Scrolls collection," Kohn explained. The Dead Sea Scrolls are actually a collection of roughly 900 different texts written in Greek, Aramaic and ancient Hebrew that were uncovered in the 1940s and ’50s in series of 11 different caves. Scholars continue to pore over the tens of thousands of parchment fragments today.

Extreme care has been taken to preserve and protect the scrolls, which are some of the most fragile and important documents ever discovered. Along with the other objects in the exhibit, curators from the Israel Antiquities Authority brought them over on five different flights to prevent the loss of all the relics should an accident occur.

At the Discovery Times Square, the scrolls are housed in dimly lit cases to minimize damage from light, and they are kept at 50 percent humidity between 68 and 70 degrees. When visitors approach each section, a motion sensor turns on the display case lights. The first group of fragments will be on display for only 90 days, when another collection of the Dead Sea Scrolls will replace them, so that the first group can "rest" and avoid damage from overexposure.

Almost inconspicuous in the exhibit are six objects that have generated perhaps the most biblical and religious controversy in recent years, the so-called Jesus Tomb ossuaries. Ossuaries are stone boxes that were used to house the bones of the deceased in underground tombs during the time of Christ.

These particular boxes, discovered during construction of an apartment block in Jerusalem, are unusual because they bear inscriptions including the names Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and Maria. Some scholars have suggested that this means it could be the final resting place of Jesus and his family.

Curators of the exhibit point out that these names were popular and common 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem. Scores of ossuaries have been unearthed in recent years, and it's not uncommon to find the name Jesus, for example, scratched on an ossuary. Indeed, to underscore the point, the exhibit includes a tiny stone box bearing the name Jesus, assumed to have held the remains of a child found in another tomb.

Other highlights of the exhibit include a 3-ton stone from the Western Wall in Jerusalem, upon which some early visitors have already placed prayer notes, and a short video detailing the initial discovery of the first Dead Sea scrolls by Bedouin tribesmen and how the precious texts were secretly purchased from antiquities dealers.

The exhibition in New York City runs until April 15, 2012, and then travels to Philadelphia to go on display at the Franklin Institute.