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World's Best-Preserved Ten Commandments Scroll Goes on Display Today in NYC


"...laws that have influenced so much of western religious and secular culture..."

It's been a big year for the Dead Sea Scrolls. In November, the Blaze reported on major developments in efforts to determine the religious texts' definitive authors. Now, a new exhibit called "Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Biblical Time," which will feature a piece of the oldest complete example of the Ten Commandments. These amazing artifacts will be shown in New York City's Discovery Times Square exhibit space.

This particular portion of the Ten Commandments is on leather parchment and dates back 2,000 years to between 50BC to 1AD. It is a portion of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which account for nearly 900 manuscripts that were discovered between 1947 and 1956 inside of caves in Qumran (West Bank). It is believed that a mysterious, Jewish sect known as the “Essenes" authored the documents (read more about them here).

According to the Daily Mail, the document consists of four complete and two damaged columns. Risa Levitt Kohn, a professor of Hebrew Bible and Judaism at San Diego State University, says that the display offers visitors a first-hand view of a document that has shaped and transformed Western law.

"You can actually see, up close, the oldest parchment copy of laws that have influenced so much of western religious and secular culture," Kohn says. "Indeed, this text has had such a large and lasting influence on American civil and criminal law."

Written in Hebrew, the text showcases the Ten Commandments, which can be found in the Old Testament books of Deuteronomy and Exodus. Experts believe that this particular scrolls was used as a prayer leaflet.

As Mail Online notes, this isn't the oldest version of the commandments, though it is the best preserved (the oldest is Nash Papyrus, which is at the University of Cambridge and dates back to 150 BC).

The parchment measures 18 inches in length and is three inches tall. Because it is made from animal skin and is thousands of years old, the document is very fragile to light, temperature and touch.

The museum has this to say about the new exhibit which houses the Ten Commandments:

Take a fascinating journey through the Holy Land in this once-in-a-lifetime exhibit featuring the famed Dead Sea Scrolls, an actual stone from the Western Wall from the Second Temple in Jerusalem and more than 500 never-before-seen artifacts from biblical times. Experience firsthand the traditions, beliefs and iconic objects of ancient Israel that impact world religions today.

Find out more information about the exhibit and the scrolls here.

(H/T: Daily Mail)

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