A gripping account of one man s quest to find the world s oldest bible, and to solve the riddle of the man accused of forging it
In the summer of 1883, Moses Wilhelm Shapira archaeological treasure hunter, inveterate social climber, and denizen of Jerusalem s bustling marketplace arrived unannounced in London claiming to have discovered the world s oldest Bible scroll. Written centuries earlier in the barren plains east of the Dead Sea and stashed away in caves, the mysterious scrolls called into question the divine authorship of the scriptures, taking three thousand years of religious faith and turning them upside down. 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.
Tigay, award-winning journalist and son of a renowned Bible scholar, 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. With a brilliant eye for detail, Tigay takes us from restricted storerooms at the Louvre to musty English attics to a flooded Jordanian gorge and to the German countryside where he meets Shapira s aggrieved descendants.
At once historical drama and modern-day mystery, The Lost Book of Moses brings to life nineteenth-century London and Jerusalem and a cast of rogues, reverends, and relic hunters at whose center sits Moses Wilhelm Shapira, a flamboyant, ingenious, and ultimately tragic personality.
Advance Praise for The Lost Book Of Moses
Chanan Tigay has written a delight of a book about a hunt for a book a book that is more than a book, a mysterious treasure, an ossuary of Abrahamic secrets that surfaced once and disappeared. Tigay takes us on a gripping personal quest, not to mention a plunge into the uncertainties of ancient scripture and a tour of the murky underworld of artifact thieves, forgers, and traders. T. J. Stiles, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and author of Custer s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America
Who would have thought that this tale of manuscripts, scrolls, and notebooks could be such an engrossing one? Chanan Tigay uses his ability to tell a good story, and to evoke the characters at its center to bring a fascinating piece of history to life. Adam Hochschild, author of To End All Wars and King Leopold s Ghost
Chanan Tigay has written a wonderful book. From the rubbish-strewn streets of 1870s Jerusalem to the musty archives of the current-day British Museum and the Louvre, Tigay takes us along on a gripping adventure in his quest to find a cache of long-lost scrolls and to uncover the truth of their provenance. The Lost Book of Moses is masterfully told, shot through with wit and insight and infused with deep knowledge of Biblical scripture. This book will appeal not only to enthusiasts of antiquity and the birth of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but to all who love a well-crafted mystery. Scott Wallace, author of The Unconquered: In Search ofthe Amazon s Last Uncontacted Tribes
This book s plot is straight out of Indiana Jones, and it s every bit as entertaining an ancient Bible scroll gone missing, a mysterious death, forgery, a motley cast of characters, and a dogged intercontinental quest for truth. Chanan Tigay writes with the grand hi