Dead Sea Scrolls come to Toronto

Published September 1, 2009

This fragment from the Book of War is a ceremonial blessing. More than 100,000 fragments of text have been found in 11 caves on a Dead Sea shore.

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto has unveiled a controversial Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit, which will run until Jan. 3.

Concealed for 2,000 years in desert caves near the Dead Sea, the scrolls contain some of the oldest-known copies of biblical books as well as hymns, prayers and other writings. In the first three months of the exhibit, the ROM will display fragments of Genesis, Psalms and Daniel. From October to January, the exhibit will display fragments of Deuteronomy, Psalms and Isaiah.

The Dead Sea Scrolls were first discovered in 1947 by Bedouin goat herders. More than 100,000 fragments of text were found in 11 caves on the northwestern shores of the Dead Sea.

Scholars have since pieced together more than 900 documents from those fragments. Most were written in Hebrew on leather and papyrus (reed paper) but some texts were written in Aramaic and Greek. Although the origins of the Scrolls are a mystery, one popular theory is that they were created by the Essenes, a Jewish sect, that hid the manuscripts when the Romans invaded around 68 CE.


  • Leigh Anne Williams

    Leigh Anne Williams joined the Anglican Journal in 2008 as a part-time staff writer. She also works as the Canadian correspondent for Publishers Weekly, a New York-based trade magazine for the book publishing. Prior to this, Williams worked as a reporter for the Canadian bureau of TIME Magazine, news editor of Quill & Quire, and a copy editor at The Halifax Herald, The Globe and Mail and The Bay Street Bull.

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