As the single best selling and most read book on Earth its influence on humanity and culture has spread across civilization and society, leading millions in perhaps the most widespread and monumental movement of the Western world in the past 2000 years and forming the basis for the Christian religion. It is a book that has single-handedly changed the course of the history of mankind. It is no wonder that today antique Bibles possess such high value for collectors interested in books, manuscripts, religion, and history alike.
"No one knows exactly when, how, or by whom the Bible was written, as it was composed in different parts at different times in different places."
The Bible is the holy scripture and official written work of the Christian religion. Its contents include the Christian belief of how the Earth and all its people and creatures were formed, the life, death, and resurrection of the Messiah and central figure of the religion Jesus Christ, and how Christianity came about up until the 1st century AD. No one knows exactly when, how, or by whom the Bible was written, as it was composed in different parts at different times in different places. It has been translated and reinterpreted countless times throughout the centuries, and thus there are different editions and kinds of Bibles, such as the King James Bible written in 1611.
The oldest known Bible to exist in the world is the Codex Sinaiticus, or Sinai Bible. It is one of a group of four called the great uncial codices, which are the last known remaining uncial codices that consist of the entirety of the Bible written in Greek. The Sinai Bible is a manuscript handwritten in Greek uncial letters on parchment. It is approximated to have been written between 330 and 360 A.D. Today most of it is held at the British Museum.
The most highly sought after and thus highly valued antique Bible is the Gutenberg Bible. Historically it is significant because it was among the first of books to be mass produced and mass distributed, marking a cultural shift in Europe towards better access to books amongst the classes and thus an increase of literacy and spread of information, all thanks to the newly invented Gutenberg press. In fact one of the most expensive books ever sold was a Gutenberg Bible, which sold at auction in 1987 for $5.4 million. Today experts estimate that a complete copy would be worth upwards of $35 million at auction.
The Bible’s cultural relevance as a body of written work has persisted throughout two millennia, and it will most likely continue to endure for at least centuries to come. Playing a major role in the development of Western civilization as we know it today and serving as the guideline for one of the world’s most widespread religions, antique Bibles are unsurprisingly highly prized and sought after by collectors today.