Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Codex Climaci Rescriptus for sale

I don't know if this is breaking news or not, and I could not find confirmation on the Sotheby's website, but it seems that Sotheby's is going to sell the Codex Climaci Rescriptus ('for the benefit of Westminster College, Cambridge'). The guide price is between £400.000 - 600.000 pounds and the pages from the catalogue PDF (the only notice I have seen, can somebody find them on the Sotheby's site?) are worthwhile for downloading, if only as an up-to-date introduction to the manuscript.

This is arguably the biggest sale of any manuscript for quite a while. But how sad that a respectable Cambridge theological college has to revert to selling their crown jewels on the street...

11 Comments:

Christian Askeland said...

According to Wikipedia, Agnes Smith Lewis and Margaret Dunlop Gibson donated the land which Westminster currently occupies. These are the same two female scholars who first published the codex, so I assume that they are the original donors. I assume that the college must be in hard financial times if they are selling the manuscript in the current economy.

Peter M. Head said...

I would think all colleges are in hard financial times.

Roger Pearse said...

Wonder what the donors would have thought.

Peter M. Head said...

They purchased the manuscript in various dodgy antiquities shops in Cairo. I think they would be realists. They would probably have thought that safeguarding the core mission of the college is more important than keeping stuff in the tower where few people bother to look at it and it could deteriorate.

Peter M. Head said...

If anyone pays £600,000 for it, I can guarantee that they will care for it equally as well as Westminster College has (if not better).

The White Man said...

"they are selling the manuscript in the current economy"

Ah, but this is the nature of the market system. People are most desperate to sell when the market is at its worst--which drives prices even lower.

It's a great time to be a buyer (that's someone who skimped and scrounged when everyone else was spending like it was going out of style).

Daniel Buck said...

Maybe this would be a good time to clear up some online uncertainty about Codex Climaci.

1. Was it purchased in Cairo or discovered at Sinai?
2. Does it contain only the gospels or also portions of the LXX?

Roger Pearse said...

I understand that quite a few items from Sinai turned up in shops in Cairo, especially Syriac items. The third volume of Mingana's catalogue consists almost entirely of purchases in this manner, and led Mingana to write a letter to the Times about it (which I have not seen, so take all this as hearsay). The story is that someone at Sinai was selling stuff covertly.

Roger Pearse said...

Just out of curiosity; has the ms been photographed?

Peter M. Head said...

Well that is a good question Roger. I shall let Dan comment on that one (if he is still listening).

Anonymous said...

http://www.sothebys.com/app/live/lot/LotDetail.jsp?lot_id=159541485