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Ancient Egyptian Codex Containing Early Biblical Texts Up For Auction In London, Expected To Fetch $2.6M

Written in the Coptic language on papyrus, the codex was produced in one of the first established Christian monasteries in Upper Egypt. It contains the earliest known written versions of two crucial biblical texts, the First Epistle of Peter and the Book of Jonah.

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A rare and incredibly valuable artifact, the Crosby-Schoyen Codex, will be hitting the auction block in London this June.  Estimated to fetch a staggering $2.6 million to $3.8 million, this codex is not just an old book – it's a tangible link to the very beginnings of Christianity.

Dating back to a period between 250 and 350 AD, the Crosby-Schoyen Codex is a marvel of early bookmaking.  Written in the Coptic language on papyrus, a material reserved for important documents, the codex was produced in one of the first established Christian monasteries in Upper Egypt.  This origin story imbues the book with immense historical significance.

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"This codex sits at a fascinating crossroads," says Eugenio Donadoni, a Christie's specialist dedicated to Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts. "Papyrus scrolls were transitioning into codex form, the bound book format familiar to us today.  The Crosby-Schoyen Codex offers a glimpse into this pivotal shift in how knowledge was preserved and disseminated."

But the historical significance doesn't stop there.  The 104 meticulously penned pages (across 52 leaves) contain the earliest known written versions of two crucial biblical texts: the First Epistle of Peter and the Book of Jonah.  Imagine holding a physical object that directly connects you to the very words that helped shape a major world religion nearly two millennia ago.

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The codex's remarkable survival can be attributed to the dry climate of Egypt, a factor that Eugenio Donadoni emphasizes.  "Only a handful of books from the 3rd and 4th centuries have managed to endure the passage of time," he explains.  "The arid conditions in Egypt offered exceptional preservation compared to other regions."

The Crosby-Schoyen Codex has a fascinating journey of its own.  Discovered in Egypt during the 1950s, it eventually found its way to the University of Mississippi.  However, in 1988, it was acquired by the renowned Norwegian manuscript collector Dr. Martin Schoyen.  Now, as part of the esteemed Shoyen Collection – one of the largest private collections of manuscripts in the world – the codex is being offered for auction alongside other invaluable pieces.

Before it goes up for auction in London on June 11th, history enthusiasts will have a chance to witness this extraordinary artifact firsthand.  The Crosby-Schoyen Codex will be on display at Christie's New York from April 2nd to 9th.  Don't miss this rare opportunity to come face-to-face with a piece of history that offers a window into the dawn of Christianity.  

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