The Vatican has allegedly issued an official request to examine a 1,500-year-old Bible that has been held in Turkey for the past 12 years, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.
The Bible reportedly contains early teachings of Jesus Christ and is written in gold lettering on animal hide in Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic, which was the native tongue of Jesus.
According to a report by National Turk, the Bible was seized from a gang of smugglers in a Mediterranean-area operation. The report states the gang was charged with smuggling antiquities, illegal excavations, and the possession of explosives.
Today's Zaman reports that the Bible is under high security and that a Turkish daily newspaper, the Star, claims the book could be a copy of the Gospel of Barnabas -- a controversial text which some claim is an addition to the original gospels -- Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John -- that was suppressed.
In it, Jesus is said to have predicted the coming of the Prophet Muhammad.
Due to its value as a cultural and religious artifact, even photocopies of the pages could be worth between 3 and 4 million Turkish Lira, or about 1,700,000 to 2,300,000 U.S. dollars.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article mischaracterized the status of the Gospel of Barnabas in various religious traditions. Also, the exchange value of the Turkish lira was initially miscalculated.