Books: A biblical hunt

Chanan Tigay conducts an international search for the world’s oldest Bible.

April 20, 2016 18:21
4 minute read.
Chanan Tigay

Chanan Tigay. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

In the summer of 1883, Moses Wilhelm Shapira, an antiquities dealer based in Jerusalem, declared that he had discovered 15 leather strips, containing three copies of Deuteronomy, that could well have been written in the time of Moses.

William E. Gladstone, the profoundly religious prime minister of England, examined the manuscripts, which had been put on display in the British Museum, peppered Shapira with well-informed questions, and (rumor had it) came away committed to raising £1 million (about $250m. in 2015 dollars) to purchase “the world’s oldest Bible.”


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