The “Sassoon Codex” dates from the late 9th or early 10th century
The price was reached in just 4 minutes of contested bidding between two buyers, according to Sotheby’s auction house in New York.
The world’s oldest and most complete Hebrew Bible has been sold at auction for $38.1 million. The price was reached in just 4 minutes of contested bidding between two buyers, according to Sotheby’s auction house in New York.
Thus, the Bible became the most valuable printed text or historical document ever sold at auction. It was bought by former Israeli-American diplomat Alfred Moses of Washington, D.C., on behalf of an American non-profit organization that will donate it to the Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv.
“The Hebrew Bible is the most influential book in history and is the foundation of Western civilization. I am glad to know that it belongs to the Jewish people,” said Moses, who served as ambassador to President Bill Clinton.
The ancient manuscript, better known as the Codex Sassoon, is the earliest and most complete surviving Hebrew Bible. It was written on parchment around the year 900 either in Israel or in Syria. Its name comes from its previous owner – David Solomon Sassoon, who bought it in 1929.
Real events described in the Bible
The manuscript connects the Dead Sea Scrolls, which date back to the third century BCE, and the modern form of the Hebrew Bible.
It is one of only two codices or manuscripts containing all 24 books of the Hebrew Bible that have survived to the modern era, significantly more complete than the Aleppo Codex and older than the Leningrad Codex, two other known early Hebrew Bibles.
The Sassoon Codex, which has moved throughout its history, has only been on public display once before, in 1982 at the British Library in London, said Orit Shaham-Gover, chief curator of the Museum of the Jewish People.
Its price surpassed that of the sale of the “Lester Codex”, a collection of scientific works by Leonardo da Vinci, which changed hands in 1994 for the sum of 30.8 million dollars.
Photo: Sotheby’s auction house