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Dead Sea Scroll Put on Rare Display in Israel
By Matti Friedman in Jerusalem
One of the most important Dead Sea scrolls is going on display in Jerusalem this week—more than four decades after it was last seen by the public.
The 24-foot (7.3-meter) scroll with the text of the Bible's Book of Isaiah had been in a dark, temperature-controlled room at the Israel Museum since 1967. It went on display two years earlier, but curators replaced it with a facsimile after noticing new cracks in the calfskin parchment.
The museum decided to put the scroll back on show for three months as part of Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations.
The priceless manuscript, written by a Judean scribe around 120 B.C., was in a long glass case Tuesday, its neat rows of Hebrew letters distinct and legible. President Bush, visiting Israel this week for the anniversary celebration, will be one of the first to view it.
The Isaiah manuscript was the only complete biblical book discovered among the Dead Sea scrolls, one of the great archaeological finds of the 20th century.
The ancient documents, which include fragments of the books of the Old Testament and treatises on communal living and apocalyptic war, have shed important light on Judaism and the origins of Christianity.