Excuse my enthusiasm!
What are the chances that the same week that Ross Nichols’s new book, The Moses Scroll, which relates the saga of the Moses Shapira “Deuteronomy” manuscripts, was officially published (see my post from Monday here), the summary evidence of a new and solidly academic book on the Shapira “scrolls,” supporting not only their authenticity, but their pro-biblical dating, would appear today? About an hour ago I got an email from Shlomo Guil directing me to this new research. See Idan Dershowitz, “The Valediction of Moses: New Evidence on the Shapira Deuteronomy Fragments” Die Zeitschrift für die altestamenliche Wissenschaft 133:1 (2021): 1-22, as well as a free-access PDF of Dershowitz’s full book on Academia.edu: The Valediction of Moses: A Proto-Biblical Book FAT(Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2021).
I quickly did a Google search to learn more–and lo and behold–a wonderfully done NYTimes Story by Jennifer Schuessler has just been published today: “Is a Long Dismissed Forgery Actually the Oldest Biblical Manuscript?”
This is just uncanny. It is like two ships passing in the night.
Nichols provides us with a you-are-there gripping narrative of the whole Shapira saga and affair, including his own transcription of the paleo-Hebrew and an English translation, and Dershowitz offers a detailed philological and text critical examination of the Shapira “strips.” Interesting that Rollston and others are already weighing in, crying forgery, calling Dershowitz’s work a “pile of hypotheticals,” but this will not be sorted out today. I urge folks to read and learn…from both books. And yes, I think my good colleagues would call this a “breathless” post of affirmation. Proudly so.
I believe we have entered, this week, a new era of Shapira studies–long overdue–and the vindication of Moses Shapira’s good name.
I highly recommend both books!