World's oldest Hebrew Bible could sell for $50M, become most expensive historical document sold

The Codex Sassoon bible is displayed at Sotheby's in New York on February 15, 2023. (Photo by Ed JONES / AFP) (Photo by ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images)
The Codex Sassoon bible is displayed at Sotheby's in New York on February 15, 2023. (Photo by Ed JONES / AFP) (Photo by ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images) | Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images

What is being advertised as the world's oldest Hebrew Bible is scheduled for auction this May in New York and could sell for up to $50 million, according to the broker featuring the collectible. 

Created circa 900 and consisting of 24 books divided into three parts, the Codex Sassoon is allegedly the earliest single codex containing all the books of the Hebrew Bible.

The Hebrew Bible is foundational to three Abrahamic religions, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. 

Get Our Latest News for FREE

Subscribe to get daily/weekly email with the top stories (plus special offers!) from The Christian Post. Be the first to know.

"The Bible is one of the world's greatest treasures and holds powerful resonance for the three monotheistic religions and their billions of adherents," Sotheby's, the fine arts company auctioning the book, posted on its website. "For thousands of years its sacred words have been closely studied, analyzed, and meditated on." 

The 24 books contain the canonical Hebrew Scriptures: the Torah, the Nevi'im and the Ketuvim.

"Christians revere the texts as the Old Testament and Islam teaches that the Torah and the Psalms are divinely revealed books," Sotheby's editor Will Fenstermaker wrote in an online overview of the item's history. "Arguably, the Hebrew Bible constitutes the most influential book in human history and the bedrock of Western civilization." 

The item is named after its original owner, David Solomon Sassoon (1880-1942), who was known for assembling the most extensive private collection of Hebrew manuscripts. Sassoon reportedly had an "affinity" for collecting Bibles, according to Sotheby's. 

"Some of the most valuable and important items in his library belonged to this genre of Hebrew literature," Sotheby's stated. "His collection catalogue, Ohel Dawid, begins and ends with biblical material, and Codex Sassoon is its very last entry, giving pride of place to this monument of world civilization."

The Codex Sassoon will be available for auction on May 16, 2023, starting at 10 a.m. EDT.

Sotheby's believes the Codex Sassoon "could become the most valuable historical document ever sold at auction." The record was set in 2021 by billionaire investor Kenneth Griffin, who bought a first-edition copy of the U.S. Constitution for $43.2 million at a Sotheby's auction. 

The Codex Sassoon's current owner, collector Jacqui Safra, had the manuscript carbon dated, confirming that it's older than the Aleppo Codex and the Leningrad Codex, two other major early Hebrew Bibles. 

Before the auction in May, the public will have the opportunity to see the manuscript for the first time in 40 years at Sotheby's auction house in London. Starting next week, the Hebrew Bible will go on a tour through several major cities, including Tel Aviv, Israel, Dallas and Los Angeles, before heading to New York for the auction. 

As The Christian Post reported, the Dead Sea Scrolls are the oldest known biblical manuscripts, dating back almost 2,000 years. The texts were hidden in 11 caves in the Judean desert around 68 BCE, and fragments of the scrolls were discovered in 1947 and 1956 at the archaeological site of Qumran in the West Bank. 

Fragments of the texts have been published in two books, titled Gleanings from the Caves: Dead Sea Scrolls and Artefacts from The Schøyen Collection, and Dead Sea Scrolls Fragments in the Museum Collection

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follower her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

Was this article helpful?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone.

By making a recurring donation or a one-time donation of any amount, you're helping to keep CP's articles free and accessible for everyone.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.

Most Popular

More Articles