One of oldest Christian liturgical books expected to bring in more than $2.6M at London auction






One of the oldest Christian liturgical books is expected to sell for more than $2.6 million at an auction in London.

The Crosby-Schøyen Codex was written on Egyptian papyrus from around 250-350 A.D., and produced in one of the first monasteries.

“It’s right at that period, that transitional period, when papyrus scroll starts turning into codex form,” Eugenio Donadoni, Christie’s Senior Specialist, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts, told Reuters. “So, books as we know them today. And what we have in this book is the earliest known texts of two books of the Bible.”

According to auction house, Christie’s New York, the book is expected to fetch between $2.6 million to $3.8 million.

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A person shows one of the oldest books in existence, the Crosby-Schoyen Codex, which is expected to fetch over $2.6 million at auction in June. (Reuters/Andrew Hofstetter)

A view of one of the oldest books in existence, the Crosby-Schoyen Codex, which is expected to fetch over $2.6 million at auction. (Reuters/Andrew Hofstetter)

One scribe wrote 104 pages, with 52 leaves, over a period of 40 years.

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The five texts in the Crosby-Schøyen Codex are:

  1. Bible: Jonah
  2. Bible: 2 Maccabees 5:27 – 7:41
  3. Bible: 1 Peter
  4. Melito of Sardis: Peri Pascha 47 – 105
  5. Homily, An Unidentified Sermon for Easter Morning

A view of the Crosby-Schoyen Codex, written in Coptic on papyrus around 250-350 A.D., and produced in one of the first Christian monasteries. (Reuters TV via Reuters)

The book was eventually discovered in the 1950s. 

It was acquired by the University of Mississippi until 1981, when it was bought by Dr. Martin Schoyen, a manuscript collector, in 1988.

Christie’s Senior Specialist, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts, Eugenio Donadoni, examines one of the oldest books in existence, the Crosby-Schoyen Codex, ahead of its auction. (Reuters/Andrew Hofstetter)

A view of the Crosby-Schoyen Codex, written in Coptic on papyrus around 250-350 A.D. (Reuters via Reuters)

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The codex is on view at Christie’s New York, April 2-9, and will be auctioned in London on June 11.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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