The Dead Sea Scrolls have been the subject of avid interest and curiosity for nearly fifty years. Today, scholars agree on their significance but disagree on who produced them. They debate specific passages of individual scrolls and are still assessing their impact on the foundations of Judaism and Christianity. For the public in this country and throughout the world, the scrolls have an aura of reverence and intrigue which is reinvigorated periodically by the media--journalists who report serious disagreements among well-known scholars, as well as tabloids which claim that the scrolls can predict the future or answer life's mysteries.

This Library of Congress exhibition presents a significant sampling of scrolls and explores both their history and their meaning. It is the Library's hope that visitors will leave both satisfied in having seen these remarkable survivors of a far-off past and in having learned something of the challenges facing scroll scholars and intrigued by questions that surround the scrolls and the community that may have produced them.

Who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls? How did the Qumran library come to be? Whose scrolls were they? Why were they hidden in the caves? Today, with specialists and scholars throughout the world poring over the newly released scroll texts, solutions to these mysteries undoubtedly will be proposed. But these solutions will themselves raise questions--fueling continuing public interest and scholarly debate.