The goals of the "Scrolls from the Dead Sea" exhibition are three fold: to enable visitors to see twelve of the Dead Sea Scroll fragments; to promote greater understanding of the turbulent period in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were copied; and to provide some insight into the questions raised and the "mystery" surrounding this great manuscript find.
The exhibit has an introductory as well as three main sections:
- The introductory area presents the Psalms Scroll, the largest of the scroll fragments in the exhibition, and touches on the geographical and religious contexts of the period.
- "The Qumran Community" examines the region in which the scrolls were found, presents the archaeological materials uncovered at the Qumran site, and explores the nature of the habitation adjacent to the scroll-bearing caves.
- The "Qumran Library" is a look at the various scrolls that were discovered in the Dead Sea caves.
- "Two Thousand Years Later" explores the significance of the scrolls to modern scholarship and presents some of the questions and controversies that surround them.
The storyline for the exhibition includes not only interpretation of the scrolls, their meaning and significance, it also deals, to the extent it has been explored by scholars, with the history and social realities of the people and the times that produced the scrolls. Recent publications on the exhibited scrolls are included throughout the exhibition. Finally, the exhibition presents differing views where they occur. For example, the Qumran excavation is viewed by many as the site of a communal religious sect, probably the Essenes. The exhibition explores this interpretation but also presents entirely different points of view.
In the exhibition, B.C.E. (Before the Common Era) and C.E. (Common Era) are alternate designations for B.C. and A.D. The exhibition contains other words, terms, and references that may need definition or explanation. Such terms are explained the first time they occur in the exhibition. This online exhibit includes a full glossary of such terms as well as the exhibit brochure.