Wednesday, April 14, 2010

2010 USA Tour : April 10th, Dead Sea Scrolls

Spiritrockto Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibition, Milwaukee

This became a very moving day for us.

This was one of our few “being a tourist” days.

The destination was Milwaukee to view the Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibition. Thinking that we were entering into a large busy city with no sympathy for parking an RV, I suggested to Claire we parked away from the city and caught a bus in. The State Fair Grounds was the perfect place, free car parking to include RVs and a Park and Ride bus service.

Alas, after 45 minutes no bus arrived and it was getting close to deadline for our entry ticket time. Claire phoned the museum and they advised us of a wonderful nearby City Car Park that could take RVs. When we got there with our trusty sat-nav gps, we were delighted to see the car park easy to enter and lots of room. The car before us entered, but the barrier would not lift for us! There was a sign lit up “car park closed”. Why?

Not too far away we found a space taking up two parking meters, and the notice saying Saturdays had no charge but 2 hour parking limit. We took the chance, rushed into the museum, quick cup of coffee and sandwich, and into the show …..

DeadseascrollsThe Exhibition!

Very, very different to what I imagined, and so, so creatively worked out. The Exhibition was a long winding walkway of different colour tones and beautiful mood enhancing audio.

It started by explaining the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the black market trading that immediately started when the first scrolls were found. There were lots of scrolls found around the Dead Sea. We were then given an exhibition of other ancient archaeology that had been found in the region from the time such as pottery, jewelry and tools.

The exhibition then explained how all of the black market items were bought back and gathered together in Jerusalem for analysis and stitching back together. There were demonstrations of the remarkable techniques used for attaching the fragments.

I wondered if we would actually see part of the actual Dead Sea Scrolls ourselves. We were treated to an original copper plate piece but the parchment and papyrus versions were incredibly clever copy reproductions.

We were shown copies of the pots and fragments of actual pots they were found in too.

We then entered a large room that magically detailed every scroll text found, photos of the fragments, the writings reproduced and the English translations.

Many of these had translations that made no sense. This is probably due to there not being the correct words in English for a direct translation. It like Gaelic. The name Bride or Brigid is a good example, both being shortened from “Brideog na Saigead” which translates as “fiery arrow”. The oak is featured a lot in Bride and Brigid traditions, and it the tree that attract lightening the most. Lightning was an instant source of fire and Bride and Brigid are associated with creating fire, so it is assumed that “fiery arrow” could mean “lightning”, though several neo-pagans have came up with other meanings. This I feel explains the many varied dramatic English translations from the early biblical texts.

One point made by the researchers is that though these ancient scroll texts were written after the birth of Christ they did not include reference to him, but were entirely of ancient Jewish texts.

The final part of the Exhibition explored how these ancient texts evolved into Bibles of different translations and interpretations over the years. Sadly, it did not show how they contributed to the Torah or Qua ran, though some reference to how parts are included is made briefly.

There was a strong bias on the creation of the King James Bible, which is the basis of the majority faith in the USA, and very little on the Catholic Bibles.

I was disappointed that there was no reference to the Ceile De, the Culdee, monks who brought texts to Ireland and Scotland and how they were formed into books, rather than scrolls, and how scribing became a huge industry. I feel Iona is indeed a very important part of this Exhibition story but was sadly left out.

There was an interesting feature on the Masoretes, a group of Jewish scribes who scribed copies of psalms, ancient texts and scriptures that included notation for singing them. These were called “Masoretic Texts”. The Masoretes had to flee the Holy Land, due to suppression, intimidation at attempted extinction of their work at remarkably the same time the Ceili De, Culdees came to Ireland.

The very final part was a beautiful modern hand scribed and illustrated Bible currently under creation that is attempting to translate and adapt the Bible to the modern world. The message of this version was a bold message of suggesting that the Bible may not need to be the tight catalogue of books that it is but of any collection of prophetic works inspired by the scribe.

Some folks may dispute this as being the final message of the exhibition, but that was my understanding, and for others to take a different understanding, to me, demonstrated the whole point of this Exhibition.

Overall, Claire and I were very, very moved by this.

After, I went to the gift shop to get a souvenir “Dead Sea Scrolls Kit” with book and scaled model of a “Great Isaiah” scroll in a ceramic pot, but the scroll was missing when I opened mine, many miles down the road, presumed to now be already on the black market.

BlogposeNative Americans, Nature, and Ireland

As we were about to leave the museum, wondering if the RV was full of parking tickets, clamped wheels, or even towed away, we were distracted the exhibition next to the Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibition. I cannot remember the title, but it beautifully demonstrated ways of Native American life and the wildlife and plans of around the USA. It also demonstrated how Native American ways and nature are together.

The impact of this was , profound, not just because of the Native American ways of nature, but because this re-enforced something I advise every person thinking of coming to Ireland.

The common arrangement for visitors is to fly into Dublin, assess that they are going to be completely exhausted on arrival and therefore stay in Dublin two or three days.

Celtic Dreamtime Days are especially for people arriving in Ireland.

Dublin is a busy, bustling and congested city both from cars and people and I feel is not the best environment to arrive in after intense preparation for a vacation.

Add to that, if galleries, museums and gift shops are visited, the items shows may look pretty but may not mean much, especially if you are still tired and time adjusting from arrival, still getting used to the money, language differences, service differences and various other initial niggles.

At Milwaukee, this Native American and Nature exhibition brought back many, many memories of our tour around the USA, and also answered questions about some things we had seen and done. This made this exhibition almost as equally moving as the Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibition, which would not have happened if we had come here before touring the USA.

This experience has no made me more determined to advise every visitor to Ireland to leave their Dublin days until the end of their vacation to enable them to get the best Dublin experience and the best value from being there.

To me, now, starting an Ireland vacation with 2 or 3 days in Dublin is almost wasted vacation days, while as the end would be a priceless round up experience. Please think about this if coming to Ireland !!

off to Utica IL

The following day show, our last on this tour, is in Urbana IL and is an afternoon show. We wanted to be fairly close to avoid much early morning driving.

We decided on driving from Milwaukee to Utica IL, about 3 hours drive, as we heard the Utica area around Starved Rock was pretty.

We were back at our RV around 7:30 pm, almost 4 hours after parking in a 2 hour limit parking spot. It was still there, not towed away, no clamps, no tickets. Off to Utica we went in the dark.

Our camp site was Wookey Hollow this time, and looked quite good when we arrived at almost 11:00 pm, but not much more to say about this until we awake in the morning.

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