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The Sisters of Sinai: How Two Lady Adventurers Discovered the Hidden Gospels Hardcover – 18 Aug 2009
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About the Author
Janet Soskice grew up in western Canada and has lived for some years in England, where she is Professor in Philosophical Theology at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Jesus College. She lectures around the world and is a frequent contributor to radio and television programs.
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This is a wonderful book. Janet Soskice captures the milieu, the age, the mores and the social climate with the sharpest of eyes and the greatest clarity. She explains with lively detail the complexities of palimpsest recovery, biblical exegesis, ancient paleography, etc in a melange of sheer chance,skulduggery, devious manipulation and horrible bigotry with wonderful wit.
It beggars belief that these two ladies are virtually unknown today. They make "Indiana Jones " look like a complete wimp.
This book made me laugh,made me cry, made me shout "hurrah" out loud and gave me a terrible cramped arm as I just could not put it down. It also provided some astonishing insights about what we take to be the established "Christianity" of modern times.
They were to make several arduous visits to the monastery. But having got the bit between their teeth, so to speak, they were to travel to numerous other places. Of course, having inherited vast wealth helped, but this wealth did not make them scholars, and that is just what they became. Agnes became an outstanding Syriac scholar and learned several other languages, she was, for example to become fluent in Arabic. Her sister also equipped herself linguistically. The two sisters eventually made their home in Cambridge, but this was when women were not allowed to sit for a degree from that university, nor receive an honorary degree. However, they were given doctorates from several prestigious European universities as well as St. Andrews in Scotland. Agnes also financially backed the establishment in Cambridge of the Presbyterian, Westminster College.
I found the early part of the book dull, but it soon took off making for not only a good read but also one very informative on not a few theological matters, not least the sisters reaction to Orthodox beliefs and ceremonials. I never imagined that I would recommend a book on obscure theological debates, or that these could be readable. But there are exceptions to all, or most, rules, and Sisters of Sinai is one.