“Fraud” is not a term commonly used in religious studies. It does not appear in The Encyclopedia of Religion (Eliade 1987); it is absent from Critical Terms for Religious Studies (Taylor 1998); it cannot be found even among the 3,200 articles in The HarperCollins Dictionary of Religion (Smith 1995). The absence of “fraud” from the disciplinary lexica is more than a little curious, especially since “fraud” is very much a part of religion’s vocabulary, and, from a cynical view of religion’s history, “fraud” might very well be regarded as the modus operandi religiosus. How is it that, within the history of religion, “fraud” can be an instrument of legitimation under one set of circumstances and an altogether illegitimate act under another? The article engages this question through an analysis and redescription of the phenomenon of the “holy book” in Mediterranean antiquity.