From Monastery to Auction House: Meet Egypt’s Oldest Christian Book

Known as the Crosby-Schøyen Codex, it’s a Coptic papyrus manuscript written years ago in Egypt. According to Christie’s, it’s considered the oldest Christian liturgical book in existence today.

Who Wrote This Ancient Text?

For forty years, a scribe wrote the 104 pages of the manuscript in an ancient monastery, a feat requiring great discipline and patience.

When Does It Date Back To?

When the manuscript was inspected using carbon dating, experts pinpointed that it dates back sometime between the mid-3rd and mid-4th centuries. Because it includes the First Epistle of Peter and the Book of Jonah, it’s considered to be one of the oldest and earliest witnesses to the spread of Christianity.

Did you know that this very manuscript marked the transitional phase from the use of papyrus scrolls to bound books, meaning that it really does go way back to early Christianity?

Who Owns It Now?

If we jump forward to today, the ancient papyrus is now owned by a Norwegian collector by the name of Martin Schøyen, who, to this day, collected a large number of early papyrus and parchment manuscripts.

What Is Its Future Fate?

Knowing its value, it’ll soon be put up for auction later this year. As one of the oldest books in the world, it’s expected to sell for more than 2.6 million dollars. Christie believes that the book will  “enjoy broad interest from both institutions and individuals.”

Tell us, would you ever bid on a book carrying that much history?

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