Sisters of Sinai tells an extraordinary tale of nineteenth century exploration; how two Scottish sisters made one of the most important ancient manuscript finds of the age. Hidden in a cupboard beneath the monastic library at St Catherine?s in the Sinai desert the twins discovered what looked like a palimpsest- one text written over another.It was Agnes who recognized the obscured text for what it was - one of the earliest copies of the Gospels written in ancient Syriac.Once they had overcome the stubborn reluctance of Cambridge scholars to authenticate the find and had lead an expedition of quarrelsome academics back to Sinai to copy it, Agnes and Margaret -in middle years and neither with any university qualifications - embarked on a life of demanding scholarship and bold travel.In this enthralling book, Janet Soskice takes the reader on an astonishing journey from the Ayreshire of the sisters? childhood to the lost treasure trove of the Cairo genizah.We trace the footsteps of the intrepid pair as they voyage to Egypt, Sinai and beyond, Murray?s guide book in hand coping with camels, unscrupulous dragomen, and unpredictable welcomes.We enter the excitement and mystery of the Gospel origins at a time when Christianity was under attack in Europe.Crucially this is the story of two remarkable women who, as widows, were undeterred in their spirit of adventure and who overcame insuperable odds to become world class scholars with a place in history.
"The hunt for early Bible manuscripts was among the most romantic of all the 19th century's grand quests... At the heart of this lively, inspiring double biography is the story of how a pair of spirited Presbyterian women made their own extraordinary discovery" * Sunday Times *
"A bracing and moving book...a reminder of the ardour, hardship and energy invested in the pursuit of knowledge and that endlessly inquiring and industrious Victorian age" * New York Times *
"This pacy tale involves not only an Indiana Jones-like quest, but camel rides across the Sinai desert, trips up the Nile, bickerings, misunderstandings and confusions... A cracking tale of two irresistible characters" * Herald *
"[A] luminous new study... Sisters of Sinai is by turns a rattling adventure yarn - thick with roving Bedouin and ancient tombs - and a testament to the power of perseverance" * Washington Post *
"Marvellous... A fine, fascinating account" * Los Angeles Times *