In July of 1885, the manuscript strips that Shapira presented to scholars in Europe were sold by Sotheby, Wilkinson, and Hodge, the famous auctioneers of the Strand, London. Listed as Lot 302, the description said, “The Schapira Manuscripts. Deuteronomy in Hebrew. 7 numbered and 8 unnumbered fragments, written on leather.” Alongside the entry is the purchaser’s name, the bookseller Bernard Quaritch, and the amount paid for his bargain, £10. 5S.

Bernard Quaritch exhibited the strips in 1887 in London’s Royal Hall during the Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition. One of the categories listed in the catalog for the event was Antiquities. The introduction to the manuscript section described some of the more notable collections on display and then notes: “Turning from the sublime to the other extreme, attention may be drawn to the notorious ‘Shapira MS.’ which created such a sensation while the question of its authenticity was still sub lite.”[1]

The entry for the Shapira manuscript read, “Fifteen fragments, supposed to be the original MS. of Deuteronomy. Discovered by the late Mr. Shapira, and valued at £1,000,000. These MSS. were, on examination by experts, declared to be forgeries; but for a time they created a great sensation.”[2]

Quaritch subsequently listed the Shapira MSS in his sales catalog with the following description:

“BIBLE. The most original MS of Deuteronomy, from the hand of Moses (? Ben Amram) as discovered by the late Mr. Shapira, and valued at £1,000,000; 15 separate fragments (7 numbered and 8 unnumbered), written in the primeval Hebrew character on strips of blackened leather, £25. Ante-Christum 1500 – A.D. 1800.

These are the famous fragments which Dr. Ginsburg so painfully deciphered and published in The Times, and which led the religious world of England to sing halleluiahs. The scoffing atheists of Germany and France had refused to acknowledge them genuine.”

The Shapira MSS was listed for the last time in Quaritch’s 1888 catalog, but by that time it was under the category of Forgeries. Added to the previous entries was one final, damning comment. It said, “Foiled in his attempt to foist these forgeries on the British nation, Shapira committed suicide.”

Photo taken in London at Quaritch in August of 2021 during a visit by the author and fellow Shapira researchers David and Patty Tyler.

The Moses Scroll documents the details of the entire saga based upon 19th-century reports; an assessment of the genuineness of Shapira’s manuscripts; a new transcription of the manuscript as seen through the eyes of the 19th-century’s best Hebraists; and the author’s own translation of the original sixteen leather strips with a commentary and notes. Were these strips really forgeries, or were the 19th-century experts wrong? Read The Moses Scroll and then after considering all of the facts, you decide.

While the search for Shapira’s missing manuscript strips continues, the book that tells the fascinating, behind-the-scenes story of Moses Wilhelm Shapira and his [in]famous sixteen leather strips has been reduced by greater than 20% in all formats on Amazon. 

The paperback was originally $25, then I dropped it to $22, and now it is available for $17.50.

The hardcover was originally $33, but now it is available for $25.

The Kindle version was originally $17.50, then $8, and now is available for only $6.50! 

I highly recommend buying the Kindle version even if you already have a printed version. The Kindle version allows you to search the text. Preview below and then click to buy and have The Moses Scroll instantly delivered to your device for only $6.50!

If you have not yet purchased The Moses Scroll, now is a great time. Just like the original leather strips, the value remains the same even if the sale price is less. Get your copy today. The price of The Moses Scroll has dropped, but the value remains the same.

[1] Catalogue of the Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition, Royal Albert Hall, London, 187. Compiled by Joseph Jacobs and Lucien Wolf. Illustrated by Frank Haes. Publication of the Exhibition Committee No. IV (London: F. Haes, 28, Bassett Road, W. 1888), 133. Sub litemeans “in dispute” or “disputed.”

[2] Ibid, 136.