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Oldest Egyptian copy of the Bible sold for £3M in London auction

Christie’s, a British auction house, on Tuesday put for auction a collection of Christian liturgical texts written in Coptic, known as “one of the oldest existing copies of the Bible”, fetching £3.06 million ($3.89 million).

The Egyptian manuscript, “Crosby-Schøyen Codex,” dates back to the dawn of Christianity and is considered one of the oldest books currently in existence. It is one of the earliest Christian liturgical manuscripts.

The “Crosby-Schøyen Codex” is written in Coptic on papyrus and dates approximately from 250 to 350 AD. It was written in one of the oldest Christian monasteries. The book, which comprises 104 pages (52 leaves), was copied by a single scribe over 40 years in a monastery in Upper Egypt and was kept behind a glass panel. The manuscript includes the First Epistle of Peter and the Book of Jonah.

The manuscript was discovered in Egypt in the 1950s and was acquired by the University of Mississippi, where it was kept until 1981. It was obtained by Norwegian manuscript collector Martin Schøyen in 1988, who is now auctioning it along with other notable items from his private collection, one of the largest private manuscript collections in the world.

However, the amount for which the manuscript was sold is far from the record figures reached by some other ancient manuscripts, such as the “Codex Sassoon,” the oldest Hebrew Bible, which sold last year for over $38 million at a Sotheby’s auction in New York.

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