1,100-year-old Hebrew Bible likely to sell for millions at upcoming auction

by Seth Udinski

Seth Udinski, FISM News

Later this month, a Hebrew Bible from the early Middle Ages will be up for auction and will likely sell for a hefty price, according to multiple reports.

The Bible is currently on display at the Sotheby’s Auction house in London. It will stay on display in London until the end of February before it will be brought to New York to be sold to the highest bidder.

Historians estimate that this Hebrew copy of the scriptures, nicknamed the “Codex Sassoon,” was penned likely in the 10th century AD. It is a near-complete copy of the scriptures, missing only several pages.

The artifact was penned, in the typical medieval monastic fashion, by a scribe and by hand. It is known to be the most complete copy that remains of 487 copies that were originally produced under Aaron ben Moses ben Asher, who according to Sotheby’s was “a preeminent Bible scholar responsible for correcting the Codex to match the tradition he’d inherited about how the words should be spelled, vocalized and accented.”

The Bible likely comes from Israel or Syria but was lost during the late medieval period. For 600 years, it remained hidden, until it was rediscovered in 1929.

Sotheby’s Auctions describes the artifact as “the earliest, most complete Hebrew Bible” known to man, and said it “is “estimated to be the highest valued manuscript or historical document ever offered at auction.”

Some believe the Bible will sell for a price landing anywhere between $30 million and $50 million.

Sharon Liberman Mintz, a historical consultant at Sotheby’s, said recently, “This represents the first time the text appears in the form where we can really read and understand it.”

Author Biblical Analysis

This is an inspiring report for Christians.

Every time we see a discovery of a historical artifact such as this, it should remind us of the validity of our faith, a faith that has been passed down from generation to generation. This is not a passing down of old myths or wives’ tales; this is a careful stewardship of scripture from generation to generation, protected and guarded throughout history by the most impenetrable force in existence: the sovereign hand of Almighty God.

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.  – Jude 3

We stand today on the shoulders of thousands of saints who have gone before us. This Hebrew Bible is evidence of the great heritage we have in the Christian faith.

Now certainly, we understand that various times in history offered various challenges for the believers in those times. As an example, there are many (and even I have been tempted to believe this way) who will write off the entirety of the Middle Ages in church history as a black mark on the Church. Even as we observe this report and see that this Bible was likely copied during the early Middle Ages, we may be tempted toward skepticism.

Certainly, there is an argument for the “black mark” of church history to land in the centuries before the Reformation. But I would counter that claim with a simple question: At what period in Church history was there not any kind of stain or black mark on the Church’s reputation?

In every age, we see the Church for what she is: the blood-bought Bride of Christ who, just like the people of Israel in the Old Testament, is constantly prone to wander away from the One who loves her and died for her.

Believer, you can and should read reports such as this with great courage and faith. We are promised in scripture that the Church will prevail because Christ the Bridegroom has fought and conquered sin and death on her behalf.

And when we get to glory, we will see firsthand the unity of the Church and Christ, as we join believers from every age in history and every nation on earth in worship of our great God.

So, believer, as you continue to defend the faith, know that you stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before you, who today are cheering you on as you run the race to completion. Continue to run the race well to the end, knowing the victory is yours in Christ.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  – Hebrews 12:1-2