Balloon boy's parents may have been on to something

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it is clearly a balloon: People will do some crazy stuff for a little attention.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it is clearly a balloon: People will do some crazy stuff for a little attention.Courtesy Ferran
Publicity, no matter how you get it, is still publicity, right? Whether it’s by making your kid hide in the attic while telling police he’s actually in a weather balloon careening toward earth, or by paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to own a tiny fragment of history, you still get fame. At least that’s what Southwestern Baptists Theological Seminary (SBTS) and Azusa Pacific University (APU) were hoping when they bought 3 and 5 fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, respectively. Isn’t that illegal?! That’s what I was asking myself when I read the article detailing this transaction. Apparently the purchase was entirely legal because the institutions bought the scroll fragments from a private collector; a family who, in the 1960’s, legally acquired some fragments and stored them in a bank vault (I wonder if bank vaults are humidity-controlled). They put some pieces up for sale whenever they feel like they need a little extra cash, I guess. Like you do with any culturally, historically, archaeologically, and religiously significant artifacts you have lying around. And it’s precisely this importance that seduced the aforementioned institutions into buying them- they assumed that by simply possessing little Dead Sea Scroll fragments, their credibility and academic prestige would skyrocket.

Perhaps this is true. Maybe by having these very important pieces of history will attract more scholars or research-oriented professors who, in turn, write a lot of grants and bring in more money for the university (not to mention the money they’ll rake in from ticket sales when they put the fragments on display, which APU intends to do). But from a student’s perspective, if a university has a fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls, as cool as they are, it probably won’t influence my decision about whether or not to attend. A university’s priority should be on teaching their students, and I’m not sure that spending hundreds of thousands of dollars (maybe even millions) on bragging rights is the best way to go about it. I know! SBTS and APU could use the money they spent purchasing tiny, fragile artifacts to fund a scholarship that allows students to study biblical archaeology abroad. That kind of publicity is what can put your university on the map in a sustainable way. Of course, you could just tell your students to pretend they went abroad and use the money to buy a bunch of weather balloons… just in case you need them for future publicity.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Historynotsobuff's picture
Historynotsobuff says:

Obviously you don't realize how much of a draw ancient artifacts are. I just spent money to see them here, at the Science Museum.

posted on Wed, 03/17/2010 - 10:00am
JustWondering's picture
JustWondering says:

I am disappointed in the snide attitude of this article. I am interested to see this exhibit and pay money to see it (as did the above commenter: Historynotsobuff), but in all honesty my interest to view your exhibit just took a dive after reading this article. As someone who believes that the Old Testament is a holy book, this article makes me wonder whether my faith will be slandered and ridiculed in the museum exhibit as well.

posted on Wed, 03/24/2010 - 11:23pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Oh, I'm not sure that's fair—I don't think any of the post's comments regarding the value of the scrolls could be considered "snide." If anything, it seems like kso is reemphasizing how important the Dead Sea scrolls are, and how trading them for lots of money for the sake of publicity seems... a little gross.

I wonder if there was some miscommunication here. Whether you think the scrolls represent an archaeological treasure or spiritually significant religious texts, I feel like you'd be against them being treated as privately owned objects* with their value lying in their ability to attract crowds and money. I think that's what kso was getting at—really the opposite of slandering and ridiculing the scrolls, or their value as objects of faith.

*A little note—the scrolls and other materials on display at the Science Museum right now are owned by Israel, not a private organization, and are on loan for the exhibit from the Israel Antiquities Authority.

posted on Thu, 03/25/2010 - 8:53am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

You miss the point. If the article is snide it is because it is about people who think it is okay to possess and sell things of historical and archeaological significance for money and prestige only. Not about sharing them with the public for educational and maybe spirital value. (The scrolls are carefully cared for now and kept essentially by the people who are ancestors of those who wrote them-if from Isreal (IAA).) This does not take away from the scrolls or the value of a well done exhibit. You should be excited and come see them.

posted on Thu, 03/25/2010 - 3:14pm
DO's picture
DO says:

That would be descendents, not ancestors.

posted on Fri, 03/26/2010 - 1:12pm
MillionSandwiches's picture
MillionSandwiches says:

I think that the real issue here is that not only are these institutions buying them up, they are buying them in a manner that suggests they care little for the historical importance of these scrolls. Besides, the article does have a point when it says that the money could be used better in different ways.

posted on Sun, 03/28/2010 - 12:39pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

hey i think its super cool how we get to see a little bit of history

posted on Fri, 04/02/2010 - 9:41am
michael           Anonymous's picture
michael Anonymous says:

The idea of the writings was not to be specific as to answers but to make people think and create their own interpretations.

posted on Tue, 04/06/2010 - 1:07pm
michael           Anonymous's picture
michael Anonymous says:

There can be as many interpretations of intent and right and wrong as there are interpretations of the scrolls themselves. I believe and thing that causes discussion n is good

posted on Tue, 04/06/2010 - 1:10pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

enlightening in all aspects and interpretations

posted on Wed, 04/07/2010 - 7:28pm
shelloer's picture
shelloer says:

i think it is the most remarcable discovery in history

posted on Mon, 04/26/2010 - 10:56am
shelloer's picture
shelloer says:

very true

posted on Mon, 04/26/2010 - 10:59am
kso's picture
kso says:

In writing this post, it was not my intention to diminish the importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls or slander anyone's faith. I feel that the Dead Sea Scrolls are of incredible significance, and my intention was to make people aware of what is happening. When reading the article, it didn't feel right that private owners were using the Dead Sea Scrolls as publicity stunts, and my less-than-enthusiastic attitude toward the offending institutions dictated the tone of the post. But if it was this tone that turned you off to the exhibition, be aware that it is nowhere to be seen. The Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition at the Science Museum does not put down people's faiths, but rather celebrates them. The entire exhibition seeks to educate, enlighten, and inspire. I highly recommend taking the opportunity to see and learn about these amazing artifacts.

posted on Fri, 04/09/2010 - 1:20pm
DO's picture
DO says:

If they put their fragments on display they will soon find they are in error. The writing is quite sensitive to light and will soon fade. The exhibit will last 6 months and the scrolls will be changed twice to limit their exposure to light. At that, the scrolls are displayed only with low light and carefully monitored. Any scroll fragments should at the least be copied and made available to those studying them.

posted on Fri, 04/09/2010 - 2:42pm
Hamburger?'s picture
Hamburger? says:

is this the Balloon Boy that was all over the news?

posted on Sat, 04/10/2010 - 2:01pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I fee privilged , and blessed to be able to experience the dead sea srools exhibit. To me this is priceless. there is no greater reward. Why does everything have to be about monetary value.

posted on Thu, 04/15/2010 - 1:19pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Perhaps Indiana Jones said it best when he said "It belongs in a museum". However, I think any place of education and learning would do, as long as it's presented in the right way.

posted on Sat, 04/17/2010 - 5:22pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I for one could not care less about 'balloon boy's" stunt. How can that stupidity compare to the "Dead Sea scrolls" ? I am happy to learn about the scrolls, and appreciate my time in visitiing them.

posted on Thu, 05/13/2010 - 5:50pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

the dead sea scrolls are interesting, but its a bit odd to compare with the balloon incident

posted on Tue, 05/25/2010 - 10:30am
Esther swanson's picture
Esther swanson says:

This is so cool how they found the maps and a lot more.It makes me want to visit the Dead seas.

posted on Tue, 06/08/2010 - 7:30pm
The guy behind you's picture
The guy behind you says:

The scrolls are cool, but they are very small and are very broken. Money like that is better spent on hiring better teachers, not buying scraps of animal skin.

posted on Tue, 06/15/2010 - 3:49pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

What does the Baloon Boy Incident have to do with the dead sea scrolls?

posted on Tue, 07/13/2010 - 11:17am
Anonymous people's picture
Anonymous people says:

I dont know why they would make him stay in the attic, thats mean, but i get how they relate.

posted on Wed, 07/14/2010 - 1:28pm
jacob flatebo's picture
jacob flatebo says:

this is really cool. when i first came i wasnt sure how i felt about it. but now i really appreciate its significance to history. thank you, science museum for putting on this wonderful display.

posted on Fri, 07/16/2010 - 10:02am
not baloon boy's picture
not baloon boy says:

well it doesnt matter if they were on to something, we all know baloon boy's parents just plain werent smart and thats all

posted on Thu, 07/22/2010 - 1:38pm
slish's picture
slish says:

The scrolls make a great exibit and it's not illeagle to sell things that belong to you! Don't be a party pooper the exhibit will NOT squander Anyones faith!

posted on Mon, 08/02/2010 - 4:57pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Adnission to the museum is certainly cheaper than a trip to Israel. I'm glad I got to see the exhibit.

posted on Fri, 08/20/2010 - 1:25pm
dudette14's picture
dudette14 says:

this exhibit is very interesting......i learned a lot about the dead sea scrolls and the people who lived there it would be kool 2 go there sometime and see the caves 4 real but it would probably be VERY hot and i dont really like hot weather......but o well i would still go
i u havnt you should see this exhibit......VERY INTERESTING!!!

posted on Sun, 08/22/2010 - 2:10pm
AnonyMOOSE's picture
AnonyMOOSE says:

I'm just here to enjoy what is on display, and take my own interpretations from it. If people want to have their own attitude, that's fine by me. Aside from the comment thread, this is an awesome exhibit, however you take it.

posted on Thu, 08/26/2010 - 6:09pm
Parissssy's picture
Parissssy says:

overall this article is very interesting but, really air balloon for just little five minute attention...? that's really unfair.

posted on Sat, 09/18/2010 - 5:37pm
liberty's picture
liberty says:

hate ta burst your bubble, but ballons have aided a lot of scientific knowledge, in every field. even faith. and they stick when you rub em in your hair. when you say something dumb its hard to take back

posted on Sat, 10/02/2010 - 2:41pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I don't see why you would want to buy it. If it's cared for properly all that will happen is it will be distroid and the information will be lost forever. How would you like to be resonsible for that? I think a university should use it's money on something that will actually help the students learn.

posted on Sun, 10/17/2010 - 4:06pm
THEGreenBayLovingMinnesotan's picture
THEGreenBayLovingMinnesotan says:

I cannot agree more than what this article promotes. People WILL do anything to get atleast a little fame. A foul baseball could sell for over a million, depending on the person. I also think it's funny how people kind of lose it if the tissue that was sneezed on by Randy Moss goes to another person. But, considering that I AM a Christian, I believe, since they found this little shard of biblical history, that there should be more reassurance that there IS a God. But of course, admission to the Minnesota Science Museum is cheaper than a ticket to Africa. I feel lucky that I get to see this piece of the bible, written over 2000 years ago. That'll show you atheists!
I also find it amazing how many people show up, christian or not, to see the "Dead Sea Scrolls". Alot of people could care less about this, but it's still good to know that they actually care enough to come to this event. It's also very fun to see children being able to notice this, even when their not even old enough to understand any of it. I thank all of those people who can translate this fragment of history, and provide it to me.
Sincerly, The Green Bay Loving Minnesotan.
P.S. They will beat the Vikings today!

posted on Sun, 10/24/2010 - 3:39pm

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