1st American ed.
xii, 316 p. : ill., map ; 25 cm.
"A Borzoi book"--T.p. verso.
"Originally published in Great Britain in slightly different form as Sisters of Sinai: how two lady adventurers found the Hidden Gospels by Chatto & Windus ... London"--T.p. verso.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -303) and index.
Cambridge, 13 April 1893 -- The birth and upbringing of the lady Bible-hunters -- The journey to the Nile -- The boat -- The perfect dragoman -- The search for the perfect mate -- Greece -- The estate of marriage -- The Cambridge antiquarian -- Heresy and mortality -- Sinai and von Tischendorf -- The perils of Bible-hunting -- The story von Tischendorf did not tell -- Setting out for Sinai -- The treasure in the dark closet -- The Cambridge party -- The disjoint expedition -- The final falling-out -- The Devilish Press and the Highland Regiment -- The Cambridge cold shoulder -- A lightning course in text scholarship -- In the company of orientalists -- Burying the hatchet -- Keepers of manuscripts -- Solomon Schechter and the Cairo Genizah -- In Cairo with Schechter -- Castlebrae -- The college's opening -- To the monasteries of the Nitrian Desert -- The active life -- The darkening to war -- Palimpsest.
In 1892, two sisters, identical twins from Scotland, made one of one of most important scriptural discoveries of modern times. Combing the library of St. Catherine's Monastery at Mount Sinai, they found a neglected palimpsest: one of the earliest known copies of the Gospels, a version in ancient Syriac, the language spoken by Jesus. This is the account of how two middle-aged ladies without university degrees uncovered and translated this text, bringing a treasure to world attention. This quintessentially Victorian adventure is partly a physical journey: when Westerners generally feared to tread in the region, the sisters Smith traversed the Middle East. It is also a journey of the mind: in an era when new discoveries in science and archaeology were rewriting the accepted understanding of the Bible's origins as well as those of humankind, a great contribution to knowledge was made by two whose only natural advantage was an astonishing gift for languages.--From publisher description.