Inside the cloak-and-dagger search for sacred texts

In the shadowy world where religion meets archaeology, scientists, collectors, and schemers are racing to find the most precious relics.

Hand copied around 1400, a Wycliffe New Testament on exhibit at a Christian theme park in Florida gets white-glove treatment. English theologian John Wycliffe championed translating the Bible from Latin into the common language, an innovation church officials denounced.
VAN KAMPEN COLLECTION, ON DISPLAY AT THE HOLY LAND EXPERIENCE, ORLANDO, FLORIDA

The heat is merciless among the barren hills of the Judaean desert near the shore of the Dead Sea.

But it’s mercifully cool inside the cave where Randall Price lies on his stomach, staring at the crevice where just yesterday he discovered a 2,000-year-old bronze cooking pot.

“This cave was robbed by Bedouins maybe 40 years ago,” explains Price, an American archaeologist and research professor at Liberty University in Virginia. “Fortunately for us, they didn’t dig very deep. Our hope is that if we keep digging, we hit the mother lode.”

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