Cradle of Christianity exhibit, which opened at the Maltz Museum of
Jewish Heritage in Cleveland April 1, is designed to give visitors the
sense of walking through chapters of the New Testament, reported
National Public Radio journalist David Barnett.
The curator made great efforts to link historical objects to biblical stories. For example, bronze and silver coins dating back 2,000 years, have been arranged on a pedestal to illustrate the annual fee that worshippers were charged when they visited the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem during biblical times.
Curator David Mevorah told NPR that is what prompted an angry Jesus of Nazareth to kick the moneychangers out of the courtyard.
The 15 tons of artifacts on display also include a cornerstone bearing the name of Pontius Pilate, a rusted nail that was used in a crucifixion, an ancient incense container, a first-century ossuary with the inscription: "Jesus (Yeshua) son of Joseph." However, both were very common names during that time. The exhibit also includes the reconstruction of the altar area of a Byzantine-era Christian church, the components of which were excavated from 10 different sites.
One of the main attractions, however, comprises three scraps of slightly yellowed parchment, illuminated by a dim spotlight that slowly pulses on and off at 40-second intervals. They form one of the most important texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls and they are making their first appearance ever outside of Israel.
The 2,000-year-old Hebrew scrolls, whose author is unknown, are clearly legible and read as a critique of religious practices of the time.
The artifacts, including the scrolls, are permanently housed in Jerusalem's Israel Museum.