Bible becomes world’s most valuable manuscript

The oldest most complete Hebrew Bible has been bought at Sotheby’s New York for $38.1m (£30.6m), becom­ing the most valuable manuscript sold at auction.

The Codex Sassoon is thought to have been written about 1,100 years ago.

It is the earliest surviving example of a single manuscript containing all 24 books of the Hebrew Bible with punctuation, vowels and accents.

US lawyer and former ambas­sador, Alfred Moses, bought it for the ANU Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv, Israel.

“The Hebrew Bible is the most influential in history and con­stitutes the bedrock of Western civilisation,” Mr Moses said in a statement.

“I rejoice in knowing that it be­longs to the Jewish people. It was my mission, realising the historic significance of Codex Sassoon, to see it reside in a place with global access to all people.”

The winning bid exceeded the $30.8m paid by Microsoft co-founder, Bill Gates, in 1994 for the Codex Leicester, Leonar­do da Vinci’s scientific notebook.

But it fell short of the record for a historical document sold at auction set by hedge fund man­ager, Ken Griffin, who bought a first-edition printed copy of the US Constitution for $43.2m two years ago.

The Codex Sassoon is named after a previous owner, David Solomon Sassoon, who acquired it in 1929 and assembled the larg­est and most important private collection of Hebrew manu­scripts in the world at his home in London.

The text of the Hebrew Bible – whose 24 books make up what Christians call the Old Testa­ment – remained in flux until the early Middle Ages, when Jewish scholars known as Masoretes began to create a body of notes that standardised it.

The Aleppo Codex, which was assembled around 930, is considered the most authoritative Masoretic text. —BBC

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