The Bible Hunter

Jürgen Gottschlich / translated by John Brownjohn

The Codex Sinaiticus is one of the oldest surviving books in the world, and the earliest copy of the New Testament in existence. The Bible Hunter is the fascinating account of the manuscript’s journey from the fourth century to its present home in the British Library.

In 1844, academic and fundamentalist Christian, Constantin Tischendorf, who was driven by his obsession with the origins of the Bible to a remote monastery in the middle of the Sinai Desert, discovered the manuscript in a basket of paper said to have been discarded by the monks. Later, Tischendorf managed to remove several sheets from the monks’ protective guard. and, with the backing of Tsar Alexander II, organised the loan of the documents to the Imperial Library in St Petersburg, where they remained until 1933.

Part travelogue, part historical study and part critique, The Bible Hunter tells of the author’s trip to Sinai, the history of the Bible and early Church and the lives and liturgies of the monks of St Catherine’s Monastery. A compelling and accessible study, The Bible Hunter raises important questions about the nature of scholarship, and about the complex issues of how – and in particular where – the treasures of Antiquity are best displayed.

JÜRGEN GOTTSCHLICH was born in 1954. He studied philosophy and journalism in Berlin, and went on to co-found the daily newspaper taz in 1979, working there as a journalist – and latterly as Deputy Editor – until 1993. From 1980 onwards he made regular trips to Turkey and the Near East. He became Editor-in-Chief of the Wochenpost in 1994 and has worked as the Istanbul-based correspondent of various newspapers since 1998; He has also written two books on Modern Turkey and its relationship to Europe.

JOHN BROWNJOHN is an experienced and versatile literary translator with almost 200 books to his credit. These range from popular bestsellers like The Night of the Generals and The Boat (Das Boot) to the political memoirs of Willy Brandt and scholarly studies such as Martin-Gregor-Dellin’s definitive biography of Richard Wagner. His work has won him critical acclaim and numerous awards on both sides of the Atlantic, including the Schlegel-Tieck Prize (three times), the US PEN, and the Helen and Kurt Wolff Prize for Marcel Beyer’s The Karnau Tapes and Thomas Brussig’s Heroes Like Us.

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