Egypt: Coptic Bible Manuscript to Be Sold at Auction

Source: FSSPX News

One of the oldest biblical manuscripts in the world was exhibited at Christie's New York from April 2 to 9 and will be auctioned in London on June 11, 2024. The text, written in Coptic on papyrus, dates back to the years 250-350 AD. Its estimated sales value is between $2.6 and $3.8 million.

The manuscript of 102 pages or 51 papyrus leaves is the oldest known book in private hands and one of the oldest books in existence. It contains the oldest complete text of two books of the Bible: the first epistle of St. Peter and the book of the prophet Jonah.

It also contains one of the oldest and most complete texts of the treatise of Melito of Sardis on the Passover (second half of the second century). Finally, it is one of the oldest witnesses, among all languages combined, to the book of Maccabees.

It had been copied by one scribe in one of the first Christian monasteries in upper Egypt. The sheets are now preserved behind plexiglass.

“All the major finds of Christian manuscripts that we had in the 20th century and at the end of the 19th century are all concentrated in Egypt due to its very precise climatic conditions,” Eugenio Donadoni, Christie’s Senior Specialist of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts, told Reuters. In fact, he attributes the preservation of the manuscript to Egypt’s dry climate.

This “Crosby-Schøyen” manuscript – named after the Norwegian collector Martin Schøyen who acquired it in 1988 – is part of the “Bodmer” papyri. Discovered in Egypt in the 1950s, this collection of texts, which bears the name of its purchaser Martin Bodmer, includes numerous Christian writings, extracts from the Bible, and also secular texts such as Homer's Iliad.

The lots offered for sale through Christie's auction house, are the highlights of one of the largest and most complete collections of manuscripts ever assembled: the Schøyen collection.

The sale spans 1,300 years of history and includes, among other manuscripts, the Crosby-Schøyen Codex, the Holkham Hebrew Bible, the Codex Sinaiticus Rescriptus, and the Geraardsbergen Bible.