This column tries not to repeat itself.
Yet, there are times when a revisit is called for, and few things demand attention quite like artifacts that founded two of the dominant world religions.
That’s exactly what you’ll find with the exhibition Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Biblical Times, which runs through April 15 at Manhattan's Discovery Times Square at 226 West 44th St. Visitors will also have the opportunity to see objects recently discovered in the Holy Land, such as what is currently seen as the oldest known copies of the Hebrew Bible, hundreds of biblical era artifacts, and exploration into the dangerous times during which the Dead Sea Scrolls were written and, subsequently, hidden away.
Kristin Romey, a curator for this exhibition, said that visitors will gain an understanding of these ancient texts, specifically, “that the Bible (Old Testament) didn't immediately appear at once; rather, it evolved over time.” The exhibition offers insight into the period when the traditions we know as Judaism and Christianity emerged from ancient Israel, and, no, you do not necessarily need to be of a religious persuasion to be fascinated by the collection of artifacts that has been assembled.
So, if you’re ready to take a walk into the sands of history, make your plans to visit Discovery Times Square’s Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Biblical Times.
DAY TRIPPER DIGEST
Estimated Travel Time: Detailed driving directions.
Why it’s Worth the Trip: It is hard to think of a single aspect of our modern culture that is not influenced in some way by our ancient forebears. What were their lives like? How did they come to write down the articles that we now know as the Dead Sea Scrolls? How has it impacted us personally? And, a complicated question posed to each individual, how do we feel about the results? These are the conversations this exhibition will help spark.
You’ll Probably Get Hungry: The question is not whether you can find a place to eat. The question is what you're in the mood for. It's Times Square, so there's Ruby Foo’s Chinese, steak at Palm, seafood at Blue Fin, Fresco Tortillas, Carmine’s, the Hard Rock Café ... the list goes on and on.
While You’re in the Area: There is plenty of shopping to be done, but be warned—you'll be in a tourist area, and prices reflect it. Instead, try some of the other attractions. While Toys 'R' Us is a store, it is also home to an indoor ferris wheel. Maybe Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum is more up your alley, or even Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Odditorium.
Ten new scrolls, including two that have never before been seen publicly, will be on display in the exhibition. These scrolls include “Greek Minor Prophets” and “Job Targum,” as well as several that are making their New York City debut. The new scrolls were added to replace the 10 existing ones, which were removed after a planned three-month display because of the scrolls’ fragile nature and sensitivity to light and humidity.
Curator Kristin Romey said of the support Discovery Times Square received in getting the show together: "The Israeli Antiquities Authority was really helpful and generous. It took a lot of work, but I think we have a great balance of objects and information." The exhibit was created by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) from the collections of the Israel National Treasures and produced by Discovery Times Square and The Franklin Institute (itself a favorite Day Tripper destination from last year). Following its New York engagement, the exhibition will travel to Philadelphia’s The Franklin Institute for a five-month run, beginning in May.
That balance includes the most comprehensive collection of ancient artifacts from Israel ever organized, including 20 of the 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls, a stone from the Western Wall, and more than 500 never-before-seen artifacts from biblical times. "They'll have a chance to see the largest collection of Biblical artifacts ever put on display outside of Israel. Besides the scrolls, there are religious artifacts as well as objects from everyday life," Romey said.
The period of time the Dead Sea Scrolls emerged from has ramifications for just about everything that occurred with the civilized world since, and the debate on the merits of those changes goes on every day, in political spheres to the complex workings of our modern societies. The Discovery Times Square show helps provide a visual record, and context, for where things were formulated and where we stand in modern times.
About this column: Day Tripper is a weekly look at places that make it worth gassing up the car or hopping on a train.