While opening up study of the scrolls to an online audience is welcomed by scholars, they don't dismiss what's to be gained by seeing them in person. "I think many [people] are just amazed and fascinated to look at a piece of writing that's 2,000 years old, that may be from a text that they're familiar with," Dr. Kohn says. "Some of the scrolls are amazingly clear and in really good condition."Indeed.
Just as with ancient art and architecture, seeing the scrolls in person is an encounter with "the ancients themselves," says William Yarchin, a scrolls aficionado and professor of biblical studies at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, Calif. "You are in the presence of the ancient...." It may sound hokey, he says, but "there is some sort of communion or contact ... that cannot be duplicated" by viewing a photograph or online image.
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