Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit

The Dead Sea Scrolls are now on exhibit at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. The exhibit emphasizes the connection between the Dead Sea Scrolls and North Carolina:

But the Raleigh exhibit tells the story of the scrolls in relation to North Carolina. The exhibit, which visitors enter through a life-size re-created cave, begins with the scrolls’ discovery and initial examination by a group of scholars, including Duke doctoral student William Brownlee, who was studying in Jerusalem.

Three years later, four scrolls traveled to Duke, where they were seen by 30,000 people during a one-week exhibit in the university’s chapel. According to legend, one elderly man promptly fainted when told the Isaiah scroll he was looking at was written during the time of Jesus.

But though the public was enthusiastic, university officials were less so.

In 1950, Duke University passed on the opportunity to buy the Dead Sea Scrolls. You can read the rest of this story at The News and Observer.

UPDATE: A list of lectures accompanying the exhibit can be read at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences  website.

Explore posts in the same categories: Interesting facts, News

5 Comments on “Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit”

  1. View from Here Says:

    This is in fact a biased and misleading exhibit, in which the current state of research has been carefully distorted to cater to the interests of members of the old Dead Sea Scrolls monopoly group.

    In a word, the Raleigh museum (which is run by the North Carolina Department of the Environment) agreed to downplay and conceal the evidence brought to light by researchers who, over the past decade, have rejected the old “Essene” theory of scroll origins, and to physically exclude them from participating in the lecture series accompanying the exhibit.

    See University of Chicago historian Norman Golb’s editorial at

    Since the museum is a state-run institution, the role of government officials in displaying religiously controversial artifacts must also be addressed. The exhibit’s curators describe their achievement as a “spiritual adventure” involving “sacred books.” Is it appropriate for a governmental agency to use taxpayers’ money for such an adventure, and invite people to pay $22 to experience it? Where is the public accounting for how the profits will be spent? Is it appropriate for the government to entertain people with a religiously oriented exhibit in a “natural sciences” museum while taking sides in an acrimonious scholarly dispute?

    This is, of course, a serious issue that should be carefully examined by major news sources. Instead, we have silence, viciously implied innuendo about Jewish culture coming from North Carolina authorities (including an antisemitic statement on the museum’s website), mendacious claims about a fabricated “consensus” that no longer exists, and a continuing pattern of catering to evangelical — and, I might add, financial — interests.

    For further information on this propaganda masquerading as an exhibit, previously dished out to the public in various private “science” museums around the country, see, e.g.,

    or .

  2. Peter Kaufman Says:

    The Jewish Museum in New York has announcement of its upcoming Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit. Quite a different tone from Raleigh…

  3. Hadassah Says:


    Have you read the Jerusalem Report article I linked to here?

    I think you will find it interesting.

  4. Lloyd Bailey, Professor of Hebrew Bible (retired), Duke University Says:

    Concerning website for NC Museum, discussions: The “Essene Origin” theory of the Scrolls has largely been discredited and rejected. Excavations at the Qumran site have yielded coins, graves of women, and an absence of evidence of palm trees, all of which argue against it.

  5. Hadassah Says: has an article about the Raleigh exhibit. Here’s a snippet:

    And it does seem true that the exhibition, while paying lip service to the controversy over the nature of Qumran, gives the secular interpretation short shrift. “Archaeologist Father de Vaux,” asserts the exhibit’s literature, “viewed the Qumran ruins through a Christian perspective, using terms from monasteries to describe its rooms. While scholars disagree with some of his biases, his interpretation of Qumran as a religious community is still a popular theory.”

    Read the rest of it at

    The article links to Robert Dworkin’s blog, where he criticizes museums for not presenting Norman Golb’s views:

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