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Sea scrolls are coming to Chicago

The Dead Sea Scrolls are coming to the United States for exhibition in Chicago, under sponsorship from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Fifteen of the scrolls and 80 archaeological artifacts from the ancient Qumran discovery will be displayed by the Field Museum in Chicago from March 10 through June 11.The museum secured the exhibit under cooperation with the Israel Antiquities Authority. During that process, museum officials learned of Brigham Young University's extensive work with the Dead Sea Scrolls and extended an invitation to the LDS Church to help fund the exhibition.

BYU President Merrill J. Bateman, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, said the scrolls offer interesting parallels for Latter-day Saints.

"One of the church's sacred texts, "The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ," is similarly an ancient record now translated into modern languages," President Bateman said.

He will represent the church at the opening of the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition in Chicago.

Church-sponsored studies of the scrolls accelerated in 1993 with the organization of the Dead Sea Scrolls Electronic Database project. With collaboration from Jewish and Christian scholars worldwide, BYU's Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), produced the Dead Sea Scrolls Electronic Reference Library on CD-ROM.

FARMS Director Dan Oswald said the CD brings millennia of history to user's fingertips.

"With cross-linked digitized images of the scrolls, corresponding transcriptions and translations, and additional reference material in a searchable format, a researcher can discover in minutes what has taken a decade to study and compile," Oswald said.

During this same period, four BYU professors became part of a 60-member team of international scholars to decipher, interpret, and publish the scroll fragments in the Oxford University Press series.

The scrolls were discovered in 1947 by a Bedouin shepherd boy searching for stray sheep along the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea. The manuscripts are named after the community which housed them -- the Qumran collections, or Dead Sea Scrolls.

More information on the Dead Sea Scrolls and their exhibition can be found at these Web sites:

Brigham Young University: dss.byu.edu.

Chicago Field Museum: www.fieldmuseum.org/exhibits