December 4, 2022

A Biblical Mystery and Reporting Odyssey: 1883 Fragments

But many of his academic colleagues weren’t having it. Six months later, The Times reported from a fractious meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, where Mansoor’s claims had “disturbed the scholarly calm.” Elsewhere, one skeptic accused The Times of “sensationalism.”

Today, Mr. Dershowitz’s claims have provoked a similarly hot debate among scholars, who are already organizing various conferences and responses. And since my article appeared online two weeks ago, readers have had another, more basic question: What happened to the fragments themselves?

A few years after Shapira’s suicide, at least some of them were sold at an auction for a pittance. Over the years, various “Shapira-maniacs” have explored various theories about what happened next. (Were they lost in a London house fire?)

Here, the Times archive holds some enticing clues (or red herrings?), like this one-line bulletin from 1895: “There’s a grim humor in the fact that the bundle of Shapira manuscripts, recently valued at $5,000,000. was bought on Thursday for 80 cents by Dr. Ginsburg, who examined the manuscripts for the British Museum.” (Christian David Ginsburg, a British scholar, was among the experts who had deemed them fake.)

Mr. Dershowitz, a professor at the University of Potsdam, told me that he thought it was entirely possible some of the fragments could surface. If they did, carbon dating and other analysis might support his claims — or prove him embarrassingly wrong. But whatever the next chapter of this story brings, I’ll be following along.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/28/insider/bible-manuscript-debate.html

Speak Your Mind