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Sotheby’s is auctioning the ‘earliest, most complete Hebrew Bible ever’

The auction house giant estimates that Codex Sassoon will fetch as much as $50 million.

The Codex Sassoon (late ninth to early 10th century). Credit: Courtesy of Sotheby's.
The Codex Sassoon (late ninth to early 10th century). Credit: Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Sotheby’s auction house is selling a Hebrew Bible that Richard Austin, its global head of books and manuscripts, calls “undeniably one of the most important and singular texts in human history.”

Codex Sassoon dates to the late ninth or early 10th century and derives its name from its most prominent owner, David Solomon Sassoon (1880-1942). It “has been definitively dated as the earliest, most complete text of its kind,” Austin stated in a release.

Sassoon’s Hebrew manuscript and Judaica collection is among the most renowned of its kind.

“It stands as a critical link from the ancient Hebrew oral tradition to the modern, accepted form of the Hebrew Bible that remains the standardized version used today,” added Austin.

Sharon Mintz, senior Judaica books and manuscripts specialist at Sotheby’s, said the volume represents “a monumental transformation” in the history of the Hebrew Bible.

“ ‘Codex Sassoon’ marks a critical turning point in how we perceive the history of the divine word across thousands of years, and is a transformative witness to how the Hebrew Bible has influenced the pillars of civilization—art, culture, law, politics—for centuries,” she said in a release.

Sotheby’s stated, “Coming to auction for the first time in more than 30 years with an estimate of $30/50 million, Codex Sassoon will be the most valuable printed manuscript or historical document by estimate ever offered at auction.”

The auction is slated for New York in May.

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