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About the book
  • Published: 1 October 2010
  • ISBN: 9781409001478
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 352

Sisters Of Sinai

How Two Lady Adventurers Found the Hidden Gospels

Narrative non-fiction at its best: an exciting, fascinating and thought-provoking book about the discovery of an early New Testament manuscript on Mount Sinai by two audacious Victorian ladies.

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.

  • Pub date: 1 October 2010
  • ISBN: 9781409001478
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 352

About the Author

Janet Soskice

Dr Janet Soskice was born in America. She is currently professor of Theology at Jesus College Cambridge. As well as writing academic articles, she has written a column on religion for The Times and has appeared regularly on BBC Radio 4's 'The Moral Maze'.

Praise for Sisters Of Sinai

“An extraordinary and compelling book, combining vivid travel adventures, wonderful characters, and absorbing journeys of the mind and heart. Janet Soskice brilliantly and accessibly unfolds one of the most gripping sagas of Biblical detection, while telling the story of two magnificent women who trespassed intrepidly in worlds that sought to exclude them.”

John Cornwell

“This rattling tale appears to come straight from an Indiana Jones adventure. [..] Janet Soskice had done an excellent job in piecing together the lives of two remarkable, and largely forgotten woman who like Moses, made a discovery at Mount Sinai that would transform their lives forever.”

Marc Horne, Scotland on Sunday

“Soskice tells the story with scholarly conviction... [this] biography is one to be earmarked”


“In Sisters of Sinai Janet Soskice has achieved the impossible - she has brought biblical scholarship to life. A gripping story of two spirited women determined to pursue the truth whatever the cost, with camels to boot. Wonderful.”

Sara Wheeler

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