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World’s Oldest Jewish Prayer Book Snapped Up by Collector


What is believed by some scholars to be the oldest known Jewish prayer book was recently acquired by the Green Collection, a private collection of biblical texts and artifacts assembled by Steve Green, president of arts and crafts retail chain Hobby Lobby.

The 50-page text, carbon dated to the 9th century, is in its original binding and is written on parchment in an archaic form of Hebrew. It contains a set of prayers, hymns, and poems, including a listing of the 100 Benedictions. The book pre-dates the earliest known copies of the Torah by 300 to 400 years.

Green plans to display the book in the Bible museum he’s building in Washington, D.C., along with the more than 40,000 other artifacts and relics that make up the Green Collection.

While not quite as old as the 9th century, there are many rare and precious Jewish prayer books available on AbeBooks, including this 1745 Seder Keri’ath Shema Al Ha-Mitah (Prayers before Retiring at Night). This rare, illuminated miniature is offered by Les Enluminures of Chicago at just over a quarter of a million dollars.

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