|Posted by Donna Dawson on September 8, 2009 at 12:21 PM|
I never thought I would get the chance. Who imagines they will get to look at and then read the translations of the world's oldest copy of the Old Testament? I'd heard about them. I understood their significance. I just never believed I would see the Dead Sea Scrolls. And then they came to the ROM.
The Royal Ontario Museum is a a bit of a conundrum. One can travel through rows of bones and artifacts and read snippets that, in essence, speculate the age of those bones (many of them not real bones but only plaster casts) at 'millions of years of age'. That is the dinosaur exhibit. My husband and I shook our heads in amazement as people 'oohed' and 'ahhhed' over fake skeletons that can not be proven to be of the age at which they are stated. Where was the authenticity in this? Oh I know that the bones were casts of bones elsewhere but I can't help but be annoyed at the stretching of the truth there. Where are those originals? And what of the skeletons that were put together based on one or two bones and nothing else? It left me to wonder at our willingness to be deluded. And in that same building rests the fragments of scrolls that, some of which, could have easily been handled by Jesus himself. What a contradiction!
We arrived early and spent the morning travelling through the generations of archaology, paleontology and geology as the scientific world portrays it. We wanted to see all that we could of the museum as it was before the scrolls. We sifted through those enlarged reproductions of lizards. We studied the vast collections of rocks and minerals. We stood in complete humility before a God who could create the abundance of colour and design in the myriad specimens of moths and butterflies. And again, we shook our heads. How could this be perceived as random?
And then our allotted time came to view the scrolls. They aren't really scrolls now. Just portions. Decayed and fading because of ignorance by the geniuses who found them. Pourly mishandled in those early days of discovery and we all now pay the price. Even still they were there. And legible. We entered the first hall and read walls decorated with the quotes specially prepared by famous people throughout the annals of history. Even historians had been amazed that the Egyptian Book of the Dead referred to the Hebrew people--The Book of the Dead--one of the only two books found that are older than this copy of the Old Testament.
We meandered past urns that had born the scrolls and read more excerpts of history pertaining to the Jewish faith and its own style of society. We were enthralled as we stared at the time line that stretched across the length of one wall. All other faiths looked like infant shoots compared to the longevity of this manuscript--this copy tens of times over from the original that was written before The Book of the Dead. It was a taste of eternity--of the everlasting nature of The Word.
Our minds struggled to process what our eyes saw. The leather sandal that had been left behind two thousand years ago. The scroll wrapping that bore the careful hem stitches of a loving hand. The tunic worn by someone who had had the foresight to store God's word in a hasty but effective tomb. And then the scrolls. Brown and frail and rowed with neatly drawn characters that hung below the line as though ready to drop into the mind of the reader. Our eyes bounced from the scrap of hide to the direct translation posted on the wall above. "...after a while his master's wife took notice of Joseph and said, 'Come to bed with me!' But he refused..." It was as it had been in the Bible I read each day. Little was changed. All the centuries of the passing down from scribe to monk to translator had been proven to be true. These two thousand-year-old words had remained unchanged. My heart clenched in my chest as the tears came and doubt fled. I wanted to stay. I felt as though I was there in the temple of Jerusalem. I felt as though I was one of his children--blessed by his words--by his eternal love. And I was--I am. I didn't want to leave.
We moved with reluctant eagerness from one station to the next, knowing that each station would reveal unimaginable blessings, knowing that it would bring us that much closer to the end of our time amidst the scrolls. The scrolls. The Messianic Apocalypse scroll--one not found in our Bible. The Book of War. So much that we learned. So little that we knew. So firm in our faith now. We left changed. Who couldn't be? We saw our new world through eyes reshaped from what we thought we knew to what we now understand. God is supreme. He will have his say.
As we walked toward the exit, reflecting on the irony of a museum that touts evolution on one floor and bears the evidence of a Divine Creator on another, we looked up into the annex and smiled. There, in mosaic, on the ceiling were the words we will never forget. "So that man will know his works". God will have his say.