Beyond the connection of revering the Old Testament as holy writ, Parry noted that many scholars and hobbyists through the years have attempted to make stronger connections between the Essene and Latter-day Saint doctrine than actually exist. He did, however, state a few connections that can be made between the Essenes and the Nephites, including the fact that both groups viewed scriptures as vital to their communities, greatly valued the law of Moses and viewed temples as significant symbols.
Some of the specific items currently on display at The Leonardo contain connections that also may be of interest to Mormon guests.
Among the scrolls is one referred to as the New Jerusalem Text. Parry noted that scholars don’t know if the Jerusalem described in the text is the old Jerusalem made new or if there is a connection to another “New Jerusalem.” In any case, Parry said, “It describes a temple city.”
On display in the hallway immediately before the room containing the scrolls are two incense altars. Parry pointed out the horns on each of the four corners of the altars and said four-horned incense altars would have been a part of Solomon’s temple and the tabernacle of Moses.
“These would have been temple incense altars that are reminiscent of the Lord’s true temple, where there was an incense altar made of gold,” Parry said.
An olive oil press is also on display in the scrolls room. Parry said the significance of this item's presence includes the fact that “Gethsemane” is a Hebrew word that means olive oil press. “Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane, and that garden must have had an olive oil press, maybe similar to this one,” Parry said. “It’s a very fascinating system to study about and then compare it to Jesus Christ, who was the anointed one ... .”
Perspective on faith
The title of the exhibit, “The Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Ancient Times,” is an indicator that much can be learned from the people represented in the exhibit.
“When you see the objects that these people used and learn more about what they were used for, you get a really deep sense of humility,” Sampson said. “These people were not caught up in having the latest iPhone or getting a good parking space. They lived their day-to-day lives and did what they had to do to survive and to prosper, but such a big part of that was their worship.”
Parry said that, for him, the Dead Sea Scrolls don’t create more faith; he would have faith with or without the scrolls' existence. “We’re talking about something that I already knew, and that’s the Old Testament texts and writers and prophets all testified of Jesus Christ,” he said.
He said others who already have similar faith would likely experience the same sense of affirmation, and visitors can do more than just intellectually learn new things at the exhibit.
“They will also feel things if they’ll just pause,” he said. “If they come with a humble spirit and a thoughtful and prayerful attitude, knowing they’re going to be looking at parts of the world’s oldest Old Testament, that’s how they can prepare.”
The Leonardo offers group pricing to make the exhibit more accessible. Pricing for youth groups is $18.95 for adult chaperones and $6.50 for children and youths. Other groups can access the same pricing when groups include more than 15 adults. Call 801-531-9800 ext. 131 for more information on group pricing.
If you go
What: Donald Parry lecture, “The Isaiah Scrolls: Their Significance to Modern Religious Communities”
When: Thursday, March 6, 7 p.m.
Where: The Leonardo auditorium, 209 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City
Note: This lecture is free and open to the public.
Email: email@example.com, Twitter: WhitneyButters
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