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Our Journey to Sinai

By: Agnes von Blomberg Bensly

Fortress-walled Saint Catherine's monastery on the Sinai peninsula has been a pilgrimage site since its founding by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the 6th century. According to tradition, the monastery sits at the base of the mountain where Moses received the Tablets of the Law. Set in rugged country, accessible in times past only by a many days journey by camel across barren desert, the monastery survived intact through the centuries, and, as a result, became a rich repository of religious history—told through its icons, mosaics, and the books and manuscripts in the monastery library. Our Journey to Sinai by Agnes Bensly is the story of a visit to Saint Catherine's by a group of British scholars in the 1890's, who were drawn there in quest of manuscripts from early Christian times. The group had one particular prize in their sights. It was a second century translation of the Gospels from Greek into an Aramaic dialect called Syriac. This was a rare find indeed. One of the group, Agnes Smith Lewis, an accomplished linguist, had been to the monastery once before. On that visit, she had spotted a “palimpsest of most venerable appea...

Memoirs, History, Travel

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