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Hebrew Bible Expected to Smash Auction Records

The earliest and most complete Hebrew Bible ever discovered - a “vital touchstone of human history” that dates back more than 1,100 years - is to be sold by Sotheby's in New York.

Codex Sassoon
The Codex Sassoon has been virtually out of public view for centuries | Credit: Sotheby’s

It's from the collection of Jacqui Safra and will be auctioned this May. The current record for the most valuable historical text sold at auction is held by the first printing of the US constitution, which sold for $43m in November 2021 after a mystery investor outbid crypto crowd-funders who raised $40million to buy the 1787 document 'for the people'. But that record looks set to be surpassed in a couple of months time.

The 9th century volume, referred to as the Codex Sassoon, is a critical link between the Dead Sea scrolls and the Bible of today. It is being offered by Sotheby’s with an estimate of $30m-$50m (£25m-£42m), making it the most valuable historical document or manuscript to appear at auction.

Composed of 24 books divided into three parts - the Pentateuch, the Prophets and the Writings - the Hebrew Bible is the foundation of Judaism and other Abrahamic faiths. In Christianity, the texts are referred to as the Old Testament and are incorporated into the biblical canon. Islam also holds the stories of the Hebrew Bible in special regard, with many of them included in the Qur’an and other significant works of Islamic literature.

The Codex Sassoon is named after its prominent modern owner, David Solomon Sassoon (1880-1942), who assembled the most significant private collection of Jewish artefacts and Hebrew manuscripts in the world.



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