Sunday, April 11, 2010

Azusa Pacific DSS fragments to go on display in local church

THE AZUSA PACIFIC DEAD SEA SCROLL FRAGMENTS will reportedly be on display at an exhibition at a local church in Granite Bay, California. This in association with an exhibition called From the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Bible in America, which was on tour some years ago in association with Lee Biondi.
Dead Sea Scrolls on display in Granite Bay

Sena Christian, The Press Tribune

Bayside Church’s exhibit includes five fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

When a pastor at a local church saw fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls in person, he knew he had to bring this archaeological treasure to Granite Bay.

So he did.

Bayside Church is hosting the fragments as part of an exhibit called “From the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Bible in America.” These earliest-known manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible are considered one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of the 20th century — or for Pastor Ray Johnston and many other Christians, of all time. The texts date back to around 150 B.C.

“When I saw (the scrolls) for the first time, I got chills,” Johnston said. “I’m inches away from the real deal.”

Now, exhibit visitors can also get close to the Dead Sea Scrolls. The exhibit will feature five scroll fragments and dozens of other biblical items, including parts of the oldest Greek New Testament papyri, a 17th century Hebrew Sefer Torah scroll, a 5,000-year-old cuneiform tablet, an original King James Bible from 1611 to 1640, the Eliot Indian Bible and the Bible that flew to the moon aboard Apollo 14 in 1971.

A Gutenberg Bible leaf will also be on display. This was the first major book printed with movable type printing, making the Bible available to the mass population. Several other displayed artifacts highlight life in the region during the period when the scrolls were written.


Bayside Church renovated a building at its complex on Sierra College Boulevard to serve as a temporary museum. Visitors wander through a darkened cave-like setting, which depicts the caves of the northwest rim of the Dead Sea near Qumran, where a Bedouin shepherd boy found the scrolls in 1947. As shepherd boys looked for a lost sheep, one threw a stone into a cave and heard a clinking sound, soon discovering the artifacts.


Bayside Church is hosting the exhibit in conjunction with Azusa Pacific University, which acquired the artifacts in August 2009. Johnston serves on the university’s board of trustees. During a board meeting following the acquisition of the scrolls, Johnston had a chance to see the manuscripts. He said the experience left him profoundly moved. At first, he didn’t think he could actually bring the fragments to his church.

“I never thought it could happen,” Johnson said. “But that doesn’t stop us.”

Background to the Azusa Pacific fragments is here.