The oldest known Bible is going up for auction at Sotheby’s this year and the auction house expect it will go for $30 million to $50 million. The Codex Sassoon is the the earliest most complete Hebrew Bible, which dates back to the late 9th or early 10th century, and contains all 24 books of the Hebrew Bible, but is missing 12 leaves.
The Bible is named after its most notable owner, David Solomon Sassoon, who died in 1942. Sassoon knew the prayers for the entire liturgical year and practically the entire Hebrew Bible by heart by age eight, according to Sotheby’s.
There are older religious manuscripts, like the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Aleppo Codex, which is missing many pages, but the Codex Sassoon is the oldest and most complete. It is nearly a century older than the Leningrad Codex, which is the oldest, fully complete Bible.
The Codex Sassoon will go up for auction in New York City in May and is expected to become the most valuable historical document ever sold at auction.
The book has not been in public view in 40 years, but this year, it will tour with a Sotheby’s exhibit – traveling to London, Tel Aviv, Dallas, Los Angeles and finally, New York City.
The Codex Sassoon has existed over a millennium of human history.
“In Codex Sassoon, a monumental transformation in the history of the Hebrew Bible is revealed,” said Sharon Liberman Mintz, a senior Judaica specialist at Sotheby’s. “The biblical text in book format marks a critical turning point in how we perceive the history of the Divine word across thousands of years and is a transformative witness to how the Hebrew Bible has influenced the pillars of civilization – art, culture, law, politics – for centuries.”
The 24 books in the Codex Sassoon are divided three parts, containing the canonical Hebrew Scriptures: the Torah, the Nevi’im and the Ketuvim. These texts are the Old Testament for Christians and Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant sects also incorporate them. Muslims also regard the Torah and the Psalms as divinely revealed books. The Hebrew Bible is arguably the most influential book in human history.
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