June 16, 2019     13 Sivan 5779
Places To Visit and Tour Israel - Historical Museums
  Shrine of the Book

Model of Jerusalem in the Second Temple Period at the Israel Museum

Courtesy of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem.

Shrine of the Book 
Built in 1965, the Shrine of the Book was commissioned for the preservation and permanent display of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Its holdings include eight of the most complete Scrolls ever discovered, as well as one of the most historically important Hebrew manuscript Bibles – the Aleppo Codex from the 10th Century ce. Designed by the Austrian-born American architect Frederick Kiesler and the American architect Armand Bartos, the Shrine is considered a masterwork of modern architecture and an international landmark. It is the only permanently executed example of Kiesler’s work, designed to communicate both the physical experience of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and a metaphorical dimension of the Scrolls’ content. In 2004, through the generosity of Herta and Paul Amir, Los Angeles, and the D.S. and R.H. Gottesman Foundation, New York, the Shrine underwent a complete architectural restoration and an upgrade of all of its environmental and display systems, in order to ensure optimal conditions for the long-term preservation and display of the Scrolls and the Shrine’s other treasures. Dr. Adolfo Roitman is head of the Shrine of the Book and curator of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Dead Sea Scrolls
Dating from the third century BCE to the first century CE, the Dead Sea Scrolls provide invaluable insight into ancient Jewish history and the historical context from which Christianity emerged. The contents of the Scrolls fall into three major categories: biblical, apocryphal and sectarian, with the biblical manuscripts comprising some two hundred copies of biblical books, representing the world’s earliest evidence of biblical texts; sectarian manuscripts covering a wide variety of literary genres, including biblical commentary, religious-legal writings and liturgical texts; and apocryphal manuscripts comprising works that had previously been known only in translation or that had not been known at all.
Excavated in the Qumran caves in the Judean Desert in 1947, the Dead Sea Scrolls are among the most ancient biblical manuscripts in the world and are perhaps the most important cultural patrimony of the State of Israel. The discovery of the Scrolls represented a turning point in the study of the history of the Jewish people in ancient times, bringing to light an unprecedented trove of biblical literature.
Scholars have concluded that some of the Scrolls were written or copied by an ascetic Jewish sect, identified by most scholars as the Essenes, who existed alongside the Pharisees, Sadducees, early Christians, Samaritans and Zealots. Together, these groups comprised Jewish society in the Land of Israel during the Late Hellenistic-Roman period – from the rise of the Maccabees through the destruction of the Second Temple (167 BCE-70 CE). Other Scrolls were written or copied elsewhere and formed part of the library of the Qumran community. Most of the Scrolls were written in Hebrew, with a small number in Aramaic and Greek. The majority of the Scrolls were written on parchment, with rare examples on papyrus – and, although a few Scrolls were discovered intact, the majority survive as fragments. 


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