Professor Tigay's Book Sheds New Light on 137-Year-Old Bible Mystery

Monday, March 02, 2020

JEWISH JOURNAL (BOSTON) -- Born in Israel, raised in suburban Philadelphia and now a professor at San Francisco State University, Tigay is spending this academic year as a visiting fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard.

His travels covered Israel, Jordan, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Australia, Britain and the U.S. He hiked into the Jordanian gorge of Wadi Mujib to “test the idea whether a leather manuscript could have survived,” but he ended up getting soaked in a flash flood. In Jerusalem, Tigay visited the home Shapira lived in after becoming wealthy, and went to the Christian church where Shapira worshiped, married and baptized his two daughters.

In the U.S., Tigay made one final stop — the Adolph Sutro Library at San Francisco State — and found what he called “the most important discovery of the entire journey,” eight days before the book was due. “I had to rewrite the entire ending.”

So how does the story end?

“I’m not giving anything away,” Tigay said. “I think it holds interest whether it’s real or fake.”