FORT WORTH -- The final days quickly approach for an exhibit comprising 21 fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, including a dozen that had never been seen in public, at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.After Jan. 13, "Dead Sea Scrolls & the Bible: Ancient Artifacts, Timeless Treasures" will be scattered to the four corners of the earth.Lenders of the various pieces will take their artifacts home."Visiting 'Dead Sea Scrolls & the Bible' provides a rare opportunity to see portions of the oldest-known copies of the Bible, but these treasures are set to return to their owners soon," seminary President Paige Patterson said.Although it's true that the 21 fragments -- from the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, 1 Kings, Nehemiah, Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Joel, Amos and Jonah -- likely wouldn't make more than a shallow pile on a pie plate, the exhibit dominates two floors of the MacGorman Performing Arts Center at 4616 Stanley Ave.Shelves upon shelves of first-century pottery, ceramics and glassware and a few personal items such as razors, combs and unguentaria -- pots where cosmetics and medicines were kept -- give guests a picture window into the days when the scrolls were written.At the Qumran Simulated Dig Site, visitors learn how 2,000-year-old artifacts are unearthed -- a part of the exhibition that will remain at the seminary after the scrolls are gone. Students who find pottery shards at the dig can keep them."At various times and places, the scrolls will be made available for public viewing in the future, and the Qumran mock-up dig site will remain for teaching purposes by popular demand," Patterson said.Since the July 2 opening, more that 65,000 people have attended the exhibit or have bought tickets that they will use before it closes, seminary spokesman Bruce McCoy said."Jan. 13 is the last day to experience this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," he said. "Until then, we're open every day, including New Year's Day."Guests have told McCoy that going through the exhibition is "the next best thing to actually being in Bethlehem at Christmastime," he said. "Others have expressed that they gained a better understanding of what life was like over 2,000 years ago in the land of Israel."Seminary administrators and staffers have found it "a deeply meaningful and spiritually rewarding experience to have featured the Dead Sea Scroll exhibition at Christmastime right here in Fort Worth," McCoy said.Other exhibits at the MacGorman include the Jeselsohn Stone (a rare sandstone tablet) as well as the St. John's Bible, part of a Gutenberg Bible from 1455, and a King James Bible from 1611.This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.Terry Evans, 817-390-7620Twitter: @fwstevans
If you go
"Dead Sea Scrolls & the Bible: Ancient Artifacts, Timeless Treasures" runs through Jan. 13 at the MacGorman Performing Arts Center at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 4616 Stanley Ave., in Fort Worth.
Adult admission: $25 at the door or at seethescrolls.com
Discounts for seniors, students and children
10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 1-7 p.m. Sunday