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Oldest Surviving Copy of the Old Testament Recognized as World Treasure

  • Veronica Neffinger

    Veronica Neffinger wrote her first poem at age seven and went on to study English in college, focusing on 18th century literature. When she is not listening to baseball games, enjoying the…

  • Updated Feb 11, 2016

The oldest surviving copy of the Hebrew Bible has been officially recognized by the United Nations Educations, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a world treasure.

The Christian Post reports that the manuscript, called the Aleppo Codex, has been added to UNESCO’s International Memory of the World Register, a list of the most important discoveries in human history.

All current versions of the Old Testament are thought to originate from this ancient manuscript which was written around the year 930 A.D. 

The Codex has been moved from place to place and around 190 of its pages are thought to be missing.

There is disagreement over who owns the Codex, but filmmaker Avi Dabach who is planning to make a documentary on the ancient manuscript, believes that it belongs to the Jewish community that fled Syria.

"In the 1960s the Aleppo-Jewish community sued the people who brought the Codex to Israel. … The Israeli Authorities decided to confiscate this item and then, from a position of strength, force on the community an arrangement," Dabach has said.

The manuscript was smuggled out of Syria and brought into Israel in 1958. It has been housed in the Israel Museum since the mid-1980’s. 

Older manuscripts which contain portions of the Old Testament have been found, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls which date back to the first and third centuries B.C., but the Codex remains the oldest, most complete manuscript of the Old Testament. 

Publication date: February 11, 2016