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Southwestern report highlights Scrolls

NEW ORLEANS (BP) — Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson invited Southern Baptist Convention messengers to come experience the Dead Sea Scrolls at the seminary during his report to the convention June 19.

Patterson was referencing the seminary’s Dead Sea Scrolls & the Bible exhibition, which begins July 2 and runs through January 13 in Fort Worth, Texas.

“Messenger friends, in just a few days you have the opportunity to do the unthinkable and actually come to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and stand as close as I’m standing to this podium right now to the oldest copies of God’s Word that are available anywhere,” Patterson said.

Joining Patterson on the platform were Ryan Stokes, assistant professor of Old Testament and one of the lead researchers on the Dead Sea Scroll fragments at Southwestern, and Steven Ortiz, associate professor of archaeology and biblical backgrounds and director of the Charles D. Tandy Institute for Archaeology at Southwestern. Patterson asked Stokes why Southern Baptists should care about the Dead Sea Scrolls.

“That’s a great question, Dr. Patterson, and one that’s very easy to answer,” Stokes replied. He used the illustration of the childhood game of telephone, where one child whispers a message to another, who then whispers the message they heard to another, and so on. This continues down the line until the last child announces the message he heard, which nearly always results in a completely different message from the original. Stokes said scholars for a long time said the Bible was transmitted in a similar fashion so the accuracy of its transmission could not be trusted.

“When we discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls, we discovered the oldest copies of the Bible that exist in their original Hebrew. And here is why those copies of the Bible are important — they reveal that the Bible that Jesus read is the same Bible that we have. … These manuscripts demonstrate how faithfully God has preserved His Word for us and our children.”

Patterson asked Ortiz to share why Southern Baptists should care about biblical archaeology. Ortiz said archaeology “supports the historicity and authenticity of Scripture.” Additionally, he said, archaeology provides further understanding of the geographical and cultural contexts in the Bible.

Visit www.SeeTheScrolls.com to get more information and purchase tickets for the exhibition.
Keith Collier is director of news and information at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas (www.swbts.edu/campusnews).

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  • Keith Collier