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Azusa Pacific acquires fragments of Dead Sea Scrolls*

September 9, 2009 | 11:42 am

Bibles IMG_8331 Two years after an exhibition of Dead Sea Scrolls drew crowds to the San Diego Natural History Museum, Azusa Pacific University is planning a show of its latest acquisition: five fragments of the historic scrolls and a collection of biblical antiquities.

The trove, including five first-edition King James Bibles from 1611 to 1640, a group of Bible leaves and two late 17th century Torah scrolls, will be introduced to the public in May in an exhibition designed to tell the story of the Bible from ancient to modern times.

The Dead Sea Scrolls, including the earliest texts of the Hebrew Bible, were discovered in caves on the western shore of the Dead Sea between 1947 and 1956. Most of the ancient documents are in Jerusalem; others are in Jordan and the Palestinian territory. Some fragments have landed in institutions’ collections or private hands. Azusa Pacific, an evangelical Christian university northeast of Los Angeles, claims to be one of three institutions of higher education -- with Princeton Theological Seminary and the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago -- to own fragments of the scrolls.

The Southern California university purchased four of its fragments from Biondi Rare Books & Manuscripts in Los Angeles. The fifth fragment, also a purchase, and the donated collection came from Legacy Ministries International, a nonprofit organization in Phoenix. Azusa Pacific's recent acquisitions have joined its collection of more than 10,000 rare and one-of-a-kind books, manuscripts and other artifacts.

-- Suzanne Muchnic

*Updated: An earlier version of this story said one of the colleges was Princeton University and the correct college is Princeton Theological Seminary.

Photo: King James Bibles in recent acquisition. Credit: Azusa Pacific University

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