A True Story of Obsession, Faith,
and the Pursuit of an Ancient Bible
A thousand years ago, the most perfect copy of the Hebrew Bible was written. It was kept safe through one upheaval after another in the Middle East, and by the 1940s it was housed in a dark grotto in Aleppo, Syria, and had become known around the world as the Aleppo Codex.
Journalist Matti Friedman’s true-life detective story traces how this precious manuscript was smuggled from its hiding place in Syria into the newly founded state of Israel and how and why many of its most sacred and valuable pages went missing.
It’s a tale that involves grizzled secret agents, pious clergymen, shrewd antiquities collectors, and highly placed national figures who, as it turns out, would do anything to get their hands on an ancient, decaying book.
What it reveals are uncomfortable truths about greed, state cover-ups, and the fascinating role of historical treasures in creating a national identity.
“A thrilling, step-by-step quest to discover what really happened to Judaism’s most important book … Many of [The Aleppo Codex's] most astute and well-earned revelations are also its biggest surprises.” –The Boston Globe
“[It] could be read as a thriller. It could also be read as a history of the Jewish people, or as a meditation on history and myth.” –Jonathan Safran Foer
“Read[s] more like a detective novel than history … Friedman has written an important account in accessible, gripping prose.” –The Christian Science Monitor
“A treasure box of history, mystery, conspiracy, and convolutions that would do any biblical thriller proud … Remarkable.” –Booklist, starred review
About the author
Matti Friedman’s work as a reporter has taken him from Lebanon to Morocco, Cairo, Moscow, and Washington, D.C., and to conflicts in Israel and the Caucasus. He has been a correspondent for the Associated Press, specializing in religion and archaeology in Israel and the Palestinian territories, and for the Jerusalem Report. He currently writes for the Times of Israel. He grew up in Toronto and now lives in Jerusalem.