Moses Shapira papyri - Christian David Ginsburg and theosophy

Steven Avery

Moses Wilhelm Shapira (1830-1884)

Shapira Scroll

Christian David Ginsburg (1831-1914)

Saturday Review (1883)

D. Ginburg and the Shapira Affair
A Nineteenth-Century Dead Sea Scroll Controversy (1995)
Fred N. Reiner & shapira affair-fred reiner.pdf

"Murder, Ginsburg & the World's Oldest Scriptures?" - (2008)
Gail Riplinger
"Riplinger suggests that he could in fact have been murdered (P. 1057)." Hazardous Materials

Conference 2016

Facebook PureBible

The Shapira Scroll was an Authentic Dead Sea Scroll: Palestine Exploration Quarterly: Vol 149, No 1
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Steven Avery

Gail Riplinger had a pretty wild murder allegation against Christian David Ginsburg. This I have written about numerous times, not liking wild conjectural murder allegations against those deceased, sans real evidence.

The reference of the BVDB fellow.

oh, I do have a quick ref in the first post. I added the secondary source url and her book name.

As to the “dating elements” ... dunno.
“Examination revealed that the strips contained certain dating elements (words and orthography) which would prove that Moses was their author. This evidence could fracture the entire higher critical movement…” (P. 1052).”
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Steven Avery

HazMat (Hazardous Materials) p. 1007

4. Ginsburg was a member of “The National Liberal Club” (The Times, “Dr. Ginsburg and the Shapira| Manuscript,” London, Wednesday, March 11, 1914).

p. 1035



Then we go to the main part p. 1052-1057


.... he took them to Leipzig in July, 1883, and submitted them to Hermann Guthe. Guthe in his turn concluded that they were forgeries, and in September of that year published a detailed study of them, entitled Fragmente einer Lederhandschrift, enthaltend Moses letzte Rede an die Kinder Israel, in which the complete text of the fragments was compared with the Masoretic Text. From Leipzig Shapira went to Berlin (July 10) and offered the fragments to the Royal Library. An expert committee was convened to examine them, consisting of A. Dillmann, E. Sachau, A. Ermann, and M. Steinschneider, who unanimously (apparently without knowing of Guthe's investigation) concluded that they were forgeries.
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Steven Avery

The murder headline above is on p. 1053

Fred Butler above gives p. 1057 because of:

The Times, recorded that “Dr. Ginsburg afterwards bought the manuscript for a few shillings at Sotheby’s” (London, Wednesday, March 9 & 11, 1914). Why Was their original discoverer, Moses Shapira, who k|new their value, shortly found dead in his hotel room? The newspapers called it a suicide —

My post had simply quoted Fred Butler. (And then added the book title, which Fred had given earlier. Granted, I did not have his url originally.)

And I remember having seen something more direct that talked about Ginsburg following Shapira in Europe, and a bit about where he died. However, this was many years back and I would have to check ancient emails.

The BVDB fellow gives some quotes from Riplinger

Since he speaks untruthfully about me, (my Hebrew school background has been mentioned often) I will go on with more substantive stuff.

Riplinger's section does have important tidbits (e.g. on p. 1007 the Ben Hayim section does not have Joshua 21:36-37 ... except in a note, which she does not mention) but is not real strong on the logic of the situation. This is one reason we know the men of the AV used many Masoretic Text editions (as well as the written up history, like the Daiches book.)

On p. 1011 Riplinger decries
"exhibits changes from the text of the Jacob ben Chayim’s"

Yet since she knows that the AV does not simply follow that edition, there is no surprise.

Updated url

Fred Reiner, The British Library Journal, “C.D. Ginsburg and the Shapira Affair; A Nineteenth-Century Dead Sea Scroll Controversy,” Volume 21, Number 1, Spring, 1995

Here is an updated url from the BVDB quoting. (minor)

Mystery in History Moses Shapira and the Lost Bible Manuscripts
About the enigma of Moses Shapira who claimed to find an ancient copy of Biblical texts, history and possible solutions to the mystery.
The Event: The Enigma of Moses Shapira
When: 1883
Where: The Hills of Moab

Here is Kenyon, who Riplinger quotes selectively, per her style.

Our Bible and the ancient manuscripts (1895)
Frederic George Kenyon
Riplinger leaves out a critical part of this quote.

The James Adair quote is not in the Fred Reiner 1995 article, but I did find it here, referencing a presentation from Reiner.

This paper will present some newly discovered information about both Shapira and Ginsburg and will probe their backgrounds and possible motivations. Why did Ginsburg wait a full month to announce his decision? What was Shapira's opinion of the scroll? What role did French scholar Clermont-Ganneau play? A study of relevant papers and letters shows Shapira to be a careful dealer; Ginsburg's career, on the other hand, was marked by a number of scholarly controversies. Might Shapira's Deuteronomy scroll have been an authentic Dead Sea Scroll?

This is referenced:

The Case of Shapira's Dead Sea (Deuteronomy) Scrolls of 1883 (1958)
Mansoor, Menahem -

Also note:

The Shapira Scroll: A Nineteenth-Century Forgery (1965)
Oskar K. Rabinowicz

The whole higher criticism concern of Riplinger does not really seem relevant. Any old strips that are authentic could simply be heretical, or an error. And the attack could be on the actual Masoretic Text, Received Text, as in the part of the Kenyon quote left out by Riplinger.

So this is interesting historically for many reasons, it is interesting for the strips and what they say.

And it is interesting to see if I can find out any more about the murder accusation. In Haz Mat it is extremely sketchy, and it does not make sense, however if there is a little more background somwhere it would be nice to find it. As I said, I may have to search my ancient emails.
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Steven Avery

BVDB - Sawbones
Christian Ginsburg was one of the greatest Biblical Hebrew scholars of the 19th century.
I have never previously heard any assertion of his being in any way associated with Theosophy.

The evidence is clear that he was so involved. He even translated the Zohar under a pseudonym (it was a series and it stopped when he passed) for a USA Theos group. If you read his stuff, you can tell he is not at all a crisp and clear Christian.

Gail Riplinger does get credit for pointing this out, afaik she was the first one. How she tried to use the information could be way off, but she was right about that fundamental fact.

Ginsburg's Masoretic Text scholarship was fine, including a book where he catalogued information on a large number of mss. If I remember, he would indicate information like how Joshua 21:36-37 was handled.

"Soncino 1488 .. it has the two verses.."

Hoskier's scholarship was generally fine too (putting aside the one variant where he credited a spirit-occult source).
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Steven Avery

Nurho de Manhar was the pen name for Ginsburg.
The Word, Volume 14

The Sepher Ha-Zohar -- The Book of Light (1912)
Nurho de Manhar

The Secret Doctrine: (Three Volumes in a Slipcase) - originally 1888
Edited by Boris D. Zirkoff
by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

Footnote by Boris D. Zirkoff - Zohar ... Very strong internal evidence of the translation suggests that the author thereof was Christian David Ginsburg (1831-1914), whose authoritative essay on the Kabbalah in the 11th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica is reproduced on the end sheets of the Wizards Bookshelf edition. N. de Manhar's translation does not extend beyond Parcha Lekh Lekha (Genesis xvii, 27) and its original serial publication stopped abruptly in 1914, the year of Ginsburg’s death.


The evidence is quite clear. The TBS might not be real happy, because he worked on their Hebrew Bible. On the other hand, his Hebrew work was strong. He has one book that goes over hundreds of manuscripts, and lets you know what they have on a few critical verses, including Psalm 22:16.

And I have not seen any real bio for Ginsburg.
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Steven Avery

Riplinger found an article by Blavatsky in which she (Blavatsky) reports on a lecture by one of the first Englishmen to embrace Buddhism, which Blavatsky - in her usual way - distorted to create the impression that she had somehow sponsored and arranged the lecture when, in fact, it was a public lecture sponsored by some public institution, this explanation of Buddhism being a big attraction. Blavatsky mentioned that C. D. Ginsburg, among other celebrities, also attended, which Riplinger blew up into concluding that Ginsburg was somehow a member of Blavatsky's circle, but I'd bet they never once met or spoke to each other.

Fortinbras, you are not paying attention. See above.
Ginsburg was clearly connected to Theosophy circles.

So being in London it would be no surprise that he knew Blavatsky.

The real issue that shows his connection was his writing for the Theosophy Journal:
The Word - A Monthly Magazine - The Theosophical Publishing Company of New York

Here is a reference to Ginsburg in the Theosophy writings to Ginsburg c. 1887

Construction Through Appropriation: Kabbalah in Blavatsky’s Early Works (2016)
Julie Chajes

Ginsburg’s scholarship was subsumed under the umbrella of Blavatsky’s broader kabbalistic vision by undergoing some slight adjustments

Huss notes Tim Rudbøg’s observation that Blavatsky’s first use of the term“Theosophy” in an 1875 letter was a paraphrase of Ginsbur

Ginsburg, D. (1865). The Kabbalah: Its Doctrines, Development, and Literature. An Essay. London: Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer
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Steven Avery

Note: Fortinbras gave no source, and that is not in New Age Bible Versions (no mention of Ginsburg at all)

Here is the closest from Haz Mat, nothing about a Buddhism meeting.

p. 24


p. 1008


p. 1029

p. 1035



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Steven Avery

In the October 1884 edition of The Theosophist Blavatsky records that Ginsburg attended her “occult” meeting at Piccadilly in England (H.P. Blavatsky, The Theosophist, Madras: The Theosophical Society, October, 1884, pp. 12-13; see reprint, HP. Blavatsky, The Theosophist Part Six 1884 to 1885, Kessinger Publications, ISBN l-4179-1002x).


H. P. Blavatsky’s Theosophy in Context: The Construction of Meaning in Modem Western Esotericism
Submitted by Tim Rudbog to the University of Exeter as a thesis for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Western Esotericism In December 2012øgT.pdf?isAllowed=y&sequence=1

Lots on Blavatsky and Ginsburg.

Isabel de Steiger closely connected to Ginsburg.

Isabel did a charcoal drawing of Christian David Ginsburg during a series of visits to his house. She found the process very trying, partly because his head was “very unclassical” but mostly because his face was in “constant movement from incessant talking”. She shut him up by talking herself on the subject “of most interest to nearly every man, viz, himself”, in particular his The Massorah which she was reading as it was published.
Source: Memorabilia p169.
Comment by Sally Davis: Isabel doesn’t say what she did with the drawing when she considered it was finished. I imagine the whole point of doing the drawing was to give it as a gift, to Ginsburg.
Here’s some further information on Ginsburg but for his early years please see the first file in this life-by-dates:
In 1870 Ginsburg had got a job at the Old Testament Revision Company and had moved from Liverpool to Berkshire. In 1904 he was elected editor of the British and Foreign Bible Society’s New Critical Bible....

She also did Blavatsky's portrait, this shows a bit of her ups and downs with B.


We find part of it, the p. 13 part


Alfred Percy Sinnett
is the Buddhist fellow, mentioned above, most likely.
He was simply the last speaker, and Blavatsky was key.


Kessinger Publications
earlier year

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Steven Avery

Sent to a scholar who requested info.

Christian David Ginsburg and his Theosophy connections

April 15, 2021

Dear ...

Greetings. I got involved in all this about a decade back in discussions about the Bible (King James Bible, textual critciism, etc.)
Recently it was revived.

Back in 2008, a quirky writer, Gail Riplinger, wrote a book Hazardous Materials.
You can see the book online here, although it might be a pirate edition, it does search well with a PDF program like Acrobat Reader. maybe better than a browser.

Hazardous Materials

On p. 1048 she has the Nurho de Manhar info!
Possibly the first time it was noted in almost a century?

She quotes in an unscholarly fashion and even had a section:
"Murder, Ginsburg & the World's Oldest Scriptures?"

She was implying that Ginsburg had been involved in the murder of Moses Shapira, who is normally said to have been a suicide. In some place I think she had Ginsburg following Shapirra in Europe, and in the country where he died when he died. However I do not see that now in Haz Mat. She is elderly, her daughter Bryn Riplinger Shutt I think is active with her, and they might actually add more info on some of these items.

Putting all that aside,she did do some study on the Ginsburg and Blavatsky issues.
These two pages have information that is a starting point.

Moses Shapira papyri - Christian David Ginsburg and theosophy

occultism in textual writers - Hoskier, Ginsburg, Westcott-Hort - also Mark in Latin

There are quotes that show that Blavatsky was aware that Sinaitius was not an authentic ancient ms.

before 1844 - poof provenance ( Georgi Parpulov confirms 1734 catalog by Nikephoros Marthalis Glykos )

Blavatsky was right on that, although the scholarly textual world is in a bit of a fog.

This shows where Riplinger mixed up two different Westcotts.
An example of why you have to check anything she writes!

correcting misinformation about Helena Blavatsky and Brooke Foss Westcott

Anyway, I hope this is enough to get you started! I can go through my bookmarks as well, and some ancient emails.

blessings and grace,

Steven Avery
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Steven Avery

For the BVDB crew, Gail Riplinger did not have any ok from Michael Maynard to sell his book. We discussed the problem.

There is no new printing planned, and limited book production, and no one claiming residuals, so I think Michael would approve of it being online, as long as no one is doing it to make $.

Personally, I avoid referencing unclear copyright editions of anything, I made an exception above to help a scholar come up to speed on the Ginsburg issues. Someone who could really help shed light on his Theosophy connections.

If you were so concerned, why did you put the URL on BVDB?

Yes, I did use the PDF to extract the Ginsburg information. When you buy or access a hardcopy, it can take a lot more time to get the book, and get the text or any pics done.

No, I have no intention to read all, or any large chunk, of HazMat, not today, or tomorrow. And I do not recommend the book, but where there is an interesting spot, like Ginsburg, I try to find the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Is the Jan Krans book online copyright ok?

I still wonder where I saw the additional information, which had Ginsburg following Shapira in Europe.
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Steven Avery

Returning to Moses Shapira and Ross K. Nichols, see above.

In a remarkable coincidence, a SECOND book on the Shapira Deuteronomy scroll has been published in the last month: Ross K. Nichols' "The Moses Scroll" gives a chronological account of the whole affair for the lay reader, and the author's own translations.

Ross has good sites:

Ross Nichols

The Moses Scroll
Authors Blog

This first article intersects with Sinaiticus forgery concerns.

Afraid of Fraud and the Codex Sinaiticus (2022)
Ross K. Nichols.

The Christian Nature of Shapira's Fragments: An Argument Accepted, Ignored, or Considered Unconvincing (2022)

And more on the page, about a dozen on Moses Shapira and other interesting topics. on Shapira and fragments
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