Plans by a Geneva museum to sell two ancient manuscripts for millions of dollars have drawn consternation from scholars around the world.
They fear the sale of the papyri, which date back to the 2nd century, could precipitate the break-up of a unique collection of around 50 texts held by the Bodmer Foundation.
The Bodmer, based in Cologny just outside the city, says it needs to raise money to guarantee the long-term future of its museum, which opened only three years ago.
But around 20 academics from Switzerland and abroad are calling for the sale of two manuscripts – gospels of St John and St Luke – to be halted.
According to Paul Schubert, professor of ancient Greek at Geneva University, the collection to which the texts belong is one of the most extensive and valuable of its kind in the world.
He says it contains New Testament codices, other Christian texts and three comedies by the Greek playwright Menander, which were all found together.
“One of the jewels of the [Bodmer] collection is this set of ancient books from the second to fourth century AD that all belong together,” Schubert told swissinfo. “It is the same as if the British Museum decided to sell one panel from the Parthenon frieze.”
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