In the summer of 1883, Moses Wilhelm Shapira-archaeological treasure hunter and denizen of Jerusalem's bustling marketplace-arrived unannounced in London claiming to have discovered the world's oldest Bible scroll. When news of the discovery leaked to the excited English press, Shapira became a household name. But before the British Museum could acquire them, Shapira's nemesis, French archaeologist Charles Clermont-Ganneau, denounced his find as a fraud. Humiliated, Shapira fled the country. Six months later he was dead.
With the discovery of the eerily similar Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947, investigators reopened the case, wondering whether the ill-fated merchant had, in fact, discovered the first Dead Sea Scroll, decades before the rest. But by then Shapira's scrolls had vanished.
Award-winning journalist Chanan Tigay set out to find the scrolls and determine Shapira's guilt or innocence for himself. The globetrotting hunt that follows vibrates with the suspense of a classic detective tale. Weaving meticulous research into fast-paced storytelling, Tigay spins a remarkable tale of history and theology; intrigue and scandal; greed, ambition, and the struggle for authenticity.
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"Sometimes an author can succeed as a narrator. Tigay's enthusiasm for his subject certainly bubbles through. But authors are not usually professional readers. And Tigay sometimes reads too rapidly. His grasp of the relevant languages is a big plus, however. The mysteries he writes about embrace far-off locations on several continents; it's hard to click the "off" button. In the latter part of the 1800s, an antiquities bookseller named Moses Shapira, headquartered in Jerusalem, discovered fragments of the Book of Deuteronomy, the earliest version ever found. Or were they forgeries? Not long afterwards, the Dead Sea Scrolls were uncovered. Similar circumstances? And where are Shapira's fragments now? The obsessed author finds out. This is a fine real-life mystery. D.R.W. © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine"
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