By UCN on December 20, 2011 9:25 PM
It is an irony of history that the Ten Commandments that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai on two stone tablets are found in their purest form on a strip of ancient parchment so delicate that it is hardly ever seen by the public.
A rare exception is being made this holiday season as the 2,000-year-old "Ten Commandments Scroll" goes on display through Jan. 2 in a New York City exhibit dedicated to the Dead Sea Scrolls.
For once, at least, this display of the Ten Commandments is unlikely to become the focus of legal squabbles or impassioned religious rhetoric.
Instead, the exhibit at Discovery Times Square in Manhattan could serve to underscore the remarkable power of faith to shape a culture -- and the ability of that culture to transmit its bedrock teachings across the centuries, and around the world.
"When it comes to the Ten Commandments, it's something that crosses all religious lines and even moves into the secular world," said Risa Levitt Kohn, a professor of Judaism and biblical history at San Diego State University and the curator of the show, which features 20 of the more than 900 Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as other artifacts of the era.
"For one reason or another these laws have influenced not just Judaism and Christianity for centuries, but also have made their way into civil and criminal codes, and have really had a lasting effect on Western secular culture."
The scroll is part of the Dead Sea Scrolls, a trove of biblical and religious writings that were only discovered by accident in the 1940s in a desert cave east of Jerusalem.
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