The oldest complete manuscript of the Hebrew Bible is the Leningrad codex, written by an Egyptian Jewish scribe in 1008 CE. (The Aleppo codex, written around 930, is missing nearly 200 pages.) Older still are the Dead Sea Scrolls, which include extensive fragments of the Bible and date to before 68 CE. Only one manuscript of the Bible exists from the intervening period, and Jennifer Drummond tells its story:
The Ashkar-Gilson manuscript was purchased by Fuad Ashkar and Albert Gilson (hence its name) from an antiquities dealer in Beirut in 1972, and some years later they donated it to Duke University in North Carolina. Based on carbon-14 dating and paleographic analysis, the Ashkar-Gilson manuscript was dated to sometime between the 7th and 8th centuries CE, right at the tail end of the so-called “silent era”—an almost 600-year period from the 3rd through the 8th centuries, or the time between the oldest Hebrew Bible fragments (the Dead Sea Scrolls) and the oldest complete authoritative Masoretic codices.