The oldest and most complete Hebrew bible, over a thousand years old, will be auctioned in May and could reach 50 million dollars (about 46 million euros), announced this Wednesday the auction house Sotheby’s in New York.
O Codex Sassoonnamed after its best-known owner, David Solomon Sassoon, the greatest collector of Hebrew and Jewish manuscripts of the 20th century, who died in 1942, dates from the year 900 and represents “the most complete Hebrew bible”.
The value is estimated at between 30 and 50 million dollars, and could be among “the most expensive manuscripts ever sold”, underlined the France-Presse (AFP) agency Richard Austin, responsible for old books and manuscripts at Sotheby’s.
The auction will take place in May, during the classic spring auction season for contemporary, modern and impressionist paintings, organized by the giants of the sector in New York: Sotheby’s, owned by French-Israeli tycoon Patrick Drahi and Christie’s, his competitor controlled by holding Artemis by French billionaire François Pinault.
Asked about the potential buyers of this work, Austin stressed that the list of buyers is “a bottomless pit”, as this is a document “founding civilization”. “It is difficult to find a text that has had more influence than the Bible in human history,” he underlined.
This bible in Hebrew, the original language of the Old Testament which also contains passages in Greek and Aramaic, “belonged to important collectors in the 20th century”, he added.
O Codex Sassoon is older than the two known texts of this type, from Aleppo, Syria, and Saint Petersburg, Russia, but its dating was not scientifically determined until recently, when its current owner, who is unknown, subjected it to bible to scientific and carbon tests.
The auction house describes the document as “the fundamental link in Jewish history” that allowed to bring the oral tradition of antiquity to the Hebrew bibles of today”, considering it “a reference in the history of humanity”.
In an “exceptional” condition, the Codex Sassoon Its margins include numerous inscriptions, annotations and other notes made by previous owners or by the communities that used it to pray, and that attest to its path in human history, Sotheby’s also highlighted in a statement.