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Oldest Surviving Old Testament Manuscript Recognized By UNESCO As a World Treasure

( [email protected] ) Feb 15, 2016 10:36 AM EST
A manuscript of what is believed to be the original source of the Old Testament has been added by the United Nations Educations, Scientific and Cultural Organization or UNESCO into the International Memory of the World Register. Under its new status, this manuscript, called the Aleppo Codex, is now regarded as an official world treasure.
Image of photograph of a now-missing page from the Aleppo Codex taken in 1910 by Joseph Segall and published in Travels through Northern Syria (London, 1910), p. 99. Reprinted and analyzed in Moshe H. Goshen-Gottstein, "A Recovered Part of the Aleppo Codex," Textus 5 (1966):53-59 (Plate I). Wikimedia Commons / Joseph Segall

A manuscript of what is believed to be the original source of the Old Testament has been added by the United Nations Educations, Scientific and Cultural Organization or UNESCO into the International Memory of the World Register. Under its new status, this manuscript, called the Aleppo Codex, is now regarded as an official world treasure.

Experts believe the Codex was written around 930 A.D. and originated in Tiberias, a coastal town near the Sea of Galilee, i24 News reported. It then made its way to Jerusalem but was stolen after the Crusaders invaded the city in 1099. It was then brought by Jews to Cairo, Egypt before making its way to Aleppo, Syria during the 14th century. On 1958, the Aleppo Codex was smuggled out of Syria and brought to Israel before making its way to the Israel Museum during the 1980s.

Due to the number of times the Codex moved from different places, a lot of its pages, 190 to be exact, have gone missing. According to experts, these missing pages include four of the five books of the Pentateuch, which is also referred to as the Five Books of Moses in the Bible. The other pages, on the other hand, may contain the books for the sections Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Daniel, Esther and Ezra.

Experts are still debating about the original owner of the Aleppo Codex but filmmaker Avi Dabach, who is looking to create a documentary centering on the ancient manuscript, believes it belonged to the Jewish group who took it out of Syria.

"In the 1960s the Aleppo-Jewish community sued the people who brought the Codex to Israel," he said according to the Christian Post. "The Israel authorities decided to confiscate this item and then, from a position of strength, force on the community an arrangement."

Despite the lack of clear information regarding its origins, the UNESCO still believes that the Aleppo Codex is still an important discovery related to the history of humans. This is primarily the reason it was included in the International Memory of World Register.

The organization noted that although other old biblical manuscripts have been discovered in the past, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, which contains texts that describe the origin of Christianity, the Aleppo Codex is still regarded as the oldest and most complete copy pertaining to the Old Testament.

Tags : Aleppo Codex, Bible, Old Testament, United Nations Educations, Scientific and Cultural Organization