- This copy has been called the “Sassoon Codex”, after its most famous owner, David Solomon Sassoon, who died in 1942.
- It dates back to the tenth century AD, or even to the end of the ninth century, according to Sotheby’s, the auction house that will sell it.
- The manuscript contains the twenty-four books that make up the Jewish Bible (Tanakh), namely the Torah (or the first five books of Moses of the Bible), the section of the prophets “Niphim”, and the section of other writings “Ketuvim”.
- No more than 12 pages are missing from this manuscript, according to Agence France-Presse.
- The book also contains passages in Greek and Aramaic, and has been exceptionally well preserved.
- It will be displayed, starting Thursday, at the Museum of the Jewish People on the Tel Aviv University campus.
The history of the manuscript and how it was found
- Researcher in Jewish texts at Sotheby’s auction house, Sharon Mintz: “This manuscript disappeared for more than 500 years after the destruction of the Jewish synagogue in Makisin (the town of Marqadah in northeastern Syria today) where it was located, before it appeared again in 1929.
- An examination of the dating of the “Sasun Codex” by carbon 14 showed that it is older and more complete than the “Aleppo Codex”, which was written in Galilee in the tenth century, and was returned to Israel in the fifties of the twentieth century after it was found in the Syrian city.
- The manuscript is also believed to be older than the Leningrad (St. Petersburg) manuscript, which is the oldest surviving complete copy of the Hebrew Bible text, and is dated to the early eleventh century.
Huge amount.. How much will it be sold for?
- Director of the Museum of the Jewish People at Tel Aviv University, Orit Shaham-Gover: “This is one of the greatest moments in my life as curator, as this ancient Bible reflects the history of the Jewish people from ancient times to today.”
- Sotheby’s said in a statement that the “Sassoon Manuscript” had been shown to the public “only once, decades ago.”
- It will now go on display before being sold at Sotheby’s in New York, for about $30-50 million, which would likely make it the most expensive manuscript ever sold at auction.
- The auction is scheduled to take place in May, during the spring auction season, which is traditionally organized by the major specialized companies in New York.
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