Rare 1,100-Year-Old Bible Coming to SMU

Codex Sassoon Bible | Image by Sotheby's

Southern Methodist University will display a rare 1,100-year-old Hebrew Bible this April, according to a statement obtained by The Dallas Express.

This particular Bible, called the “Codex Sassoon,” will be displayed from April 18-20 at the Bridwell Library, which contains SMU’s religious and theological texts. SMU is the first site in the U.S. and the only university chosen to display the Bible, which has recently been on display in London and Tel Aviv.

After its brief time at SMU, it will eventually go to New York, where Sotheby’s will auction it off. The Bible will arrive at Sotheby’s on May 16 with an estimated value of $30 to $50 million, which would make it the most valuable historical document sold at auction.

This Hebrew Bible consists of 24 books, divided into the Torah, the Nevi’im, and the Ketuvim. It consists of most of what modern-day Christianity calls the Old Testament.

The Codex Sassoon is believed to have been written in the late 800s or early 900s by a Masorite scribe, according to the statement issued by SMU. The manuscript contains explanatory notes that a different scribe added a couple of centuries later.

After much changing of hands, the Codex Sassoon disappeared in the 1300s, only to reappear 600 years later in 1929, when it was purchased by David Solomon Sassoon, the book’s namesake.

This Bible is the earliest and most complete known copy of the Hebrew Bible; it also serves as a basis for translations used by Islam and the Judeo-Christian religions.

Those interested in seeing the Codex Sassoon can also view several religious artifacts on display at SMU, including “ancient Egyptian and Assyrian artifacts, a 6th-century papyrus fragment of Paul’s epistle to the Romans, more than 220 illuminated manuscripts, hand-written and illustrated religious texts dating to 1100, pages of the 1455 Gutenberg Bible, and the first Bibles printed in German, Greek and English,” the release stated.

Admission is free; however, attendees must register to get a ticket here. The exhibit will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on April 18 and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on April 19 and 20.

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