One of the oldest Christian liturgical books is expected to sell for more than $2.6 million at a London auction.

The Crosby-Schøyen Codex was written on Egyptian papyrus around 250-350 AD and produced in an early monastery.

“It's exactly in this period, in this transitional period, when the papyrus scroll begins to transform into codex form,” said Eugenio Donadoni, senior specialist in medieval and Renaissance manuscripts at Christie's. told Reuters. “So books as we know them today. And what we have in this book are the earliest known texts of two books of the Bible.”

According to auction house Christie's New York, the book is expected to fetch between US$2.6 million and US$3.8 million.

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A person shows off one of the oldest books in existence, the Crosby-Schoyen Codex, which is expected to fetch more than $2.6 million at auction in June. (Reuters/Andrew Hofstetter)

A look at one of the oldest books in existence, the Crosby-Schoyen Codex, which is expected to fetch more than $2.6 million at auction. (Reuters/Andrew Hofstetter)

A scribe wrote 104 pages, with 52 leaves, over a period of 40 years.

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The five texts of the Crosby-Schøyen Codex are:

  1. Bible: Jonah
  2. Bible: 2 Maccabees 5:27 – 7:41
  3. Bible: 1 Peter
  4. Melito of Sardis: Peri Pascha 47 – 105
  5. Homily, an unidentified sermon for Easter morning

A view of the Crosby-Schoyen Codex, written in Coptic on papyrus around 250-350 AD, and produced in an early Christian monastery. (Reuters TV via Reuters)

The book was finally discovered in the 1950s.

It was acquired by the University of Mississippi until 1981, when it was purchased by Dr. Martin Schoyen, a manuscript collector, in 1988.

Christie's senior specialist in medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, Eugenio Donadoni, examines one of the oldest books in existence, the Crosby-Schoyen Codex, ahead of its auction. (Reuters/Andrew Hofstetter)

A view of the Crosby-Schoyen Codex, written in Coptic on papyrus around 250-350 AD (Reuters via Reuters)

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The codex will be on display at Christie's in New York from April 2 to 9, and will be auctioned in London on June 11.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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