If you remember with fondness the days when reading a Nancy Drew mystery were the best and now that you are a bit more mature you still long for a girl detective heroine, look no further. Janet Soskice has found the detective twins Agnes Smith Lewis and Margaret Smith Gibson, and she tells their rollicking story in The Sisters Of Sinai: How Two Lady Adventurers Discovered The Hidden Gospels.
The twins fell in love with languages at a very young age. For every language they learned their father would give them a trip to the country of their new language. When he died leaving them at age twenty-three with a large fortune they were well armed and armored with the best Scottish Presbyterianism could give them. There was no family to control the unwed sisters, not that they would have allowed anyone to do so, and they understood their large fortune was by the providence of God and that they must put it to the good use of God and man.
They began their adventures to the Holy Land on their own without the help of the Thomas Cook Company. To secure their independence they began a study of the region’s languages present and past, especially the Syriac dialect of Aramaic spoken by Jesus and his disciples. Despite cultural and social restraints others tried to put in their way, thievery, small-minded university faculty men who disrespected them and tried to steal credit from them, the girl detectives discovered, helped to preserve, and eventually translated a Syriac Gospels that brought the written record to within 150 years of the events in the gospels.
They lived a lively and good life, kept and grew their Presbyterian faith, and were finally recognized around the world as scholars, even if Cambridge University was too penile to give them honorary doctorates when they lived just off the Cambridge campus.
A reader can enjoy this book on many accounts whether they have Scotch-Irish ancestry, were raised Presbyterian, enjoy biblical scholarship and history, delight in travel adventures, identify with strong women moving out, feast on the Victorian era, or just love a mystery. Photographs show the twins were definitely not lookers. They were seekers, and very successful at it. What’s not to love about two Victorian ladies in full skirt who would rather walk the sands of Sinai than ride a camel? Even the Greek Orthodox monks of St. Catherine’s Monastery at Mount Sinai thought they were special. I think you will agree. Charles Marlin