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ARCHAEOLOGY > Vatican eyes 1,500-year-old Bible held in Turkish capital

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An early copy of the Bible seized in Gaziantep in 2001 was claimed to be written by John the Apostle. Hürriyet photo

An early copy of the Bible seized in Gaziantep in 2001 was claimed to be written by John the Apostle. Hürriyet photo

A centuries-old copy of the Bible that contains early teachings of Jesus Christ has been in the Turkish state's possession for the past 12 years, daily Bugün reported today. 
 
The Vatican reportedly placed an official request to examine the scripture, which was written on pages made of animal hide in the Aramaic language using the Syriac alphabet.
 
The book was seized by the police from a smuggling gang in 2000 in Turkey's Mediterranean region and since placed in Ankara's Justice Hall. There, it waited for eight years before being transferred to the Ethnography Museum with a police escort, the report said.
 
Examinations at the museum showed the book was written in Aramaic, the language thought to be spoken by Jesus Christ, using Syriac lettering. The only remaining speakers of Aramaic live in a village near Damascus. 
 
If not captured by the police, the copy of the Bible could have been sold at a price as high as 40 million Turkish Liras, the report said.

February/23/2012

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mara mcglothin

4/17/2012 4:26:13 PM

Turkey has the largest collection of Christian art in the World. Does anyone else find that ironic? Also, in the Treasury Building at Topkapi you can see John the Baptist brain and forearm encased in gold. Who knew?

siddiq Ghouse

2/29/2012 2:58:20 AM

The Turks should never part with this valuable find. Is an English translation of this Bible available?

xxmexx xxxxxx

2/24/2012 1:29:43 PM

very old scripture, paints etc. should not be traded. They all belong to the museums and the people who want to learn the history.

Amanda Pearson

2/24/2012 6:16:14 AM

"The only remaining speakers of Aramaic live in a village near Damascus. " This is not true. I know many Aramaic-speakers who live in Mardin and Midyat as well as surrounding rural areas. The language is being revived by the Syriac community.

Red Tail

2/23/2012 4:43:57 PM

Is it really possible to sell something stolen for 40 million Lira. You can of couirse not bring it to an auction house, so how do you find the buyers with the money and interest and who also is willing to buy stolen items?

Chris Green

2/23/2012 12:04:13 PM

This is of course a priceless find, but it is no surprise that the Vatican will be eyeing it with some envy whilst doubtless, the Orthodox church too will be twitching their greedy fingers too!
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