The world’s oldest, complete Hebrew Bible–Codex Sassoon–will go on sale soon at Sotheby’s in New York City. It is about 1,000 years old. It is so named because of its former owner, David Solomon Sassoon, a British collector. What makes this even more interesting is that it is believed that it will sell for between $30 million and $50 million. Sotheby’s says it could “become the most valuable historical document ever sold at auction.” The highest sale ever for a document, which was conducted by Sotheby’s, is the first printing of the U.S. Constitution which sold for $43 million about a year ago.
The Sassoon Hebrew Bible is missing “only a few pages.” The only other nearly complete Hebrew Bible to compare to it is the Aleppo Codex, which dates to 930. It is missing about 40 pages.
Sotheby’s Richard Austin said, “Codex Sassoon has long held a revered and fabled place in the pantheon of surviving historic documents and is undeniably one of the most important and singular texts in human history.”
For scholars of the Hebrew Bible, which Christians call the Old Testament, what makes this more significant is that the Sassoon Bible is believed to be about a century older than the Leningrad Codex. That is the oldest, extant Masoretic Text produced by Samuel ben Jacob in 1008 and which is used predominantly by translators is creating Bible translations, such as translations of the Old Testament in English Bibles.
Codex Sassoon will first be exhibited on a global tour in such places as London, Tel Aviv, Dallas, Los Angeles, and New York City and then be sold there in May. It has never received much exposure. Since it represents the Masoretic Text, I’m wondering if its text differs in any way from that of Codex Leningrad, which would be important to scholars.