Todd Bolen/

DESERT SANCTUARY. The monastery of Mar Saba sits perched atop the dramatic cliffs of the Judean Desert southeast of Jerusalem. Founded in 439, the monastery is home to a community of Greek Orthodox monks who spend most of their day in prayer and silent meditation. Biblical scholar Morton Smith visited Mar Saba twice—once in 1941 and again in 1958. It was on the second visit, while searching through the monastery’s library, that Smith made an astounding and controversial discovery.