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Getty Museum Settles Armenian Church Suit Over Bible Manuscript

The J. Paul Getty Museum will keep eight brilliantly illustrated table of contents pages from a 750-year-old Armenian Bible after settling a long-running lawsuit brought by an American branch of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

The church contended the pages had been illegally separated from the rest of the book during the Armenian genocide in World War I.

The settlement was announced September 21 by Getty and the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America. Both sides said they were happy with the outcome.

The Getty museum gets to keep the art, and the church gets recognition that all along it has been the rightful owner of the pages, which were separated about 100 years ago from a complete Bible called the Zeyt’un gospels.

The rest of the book is at the Matenadaran, a museum for manuscripts in Yerevan. The Getty bought its pages in 1994 from an Armenian American family for $1.5 million in today’s dollars.

The papers represent the earliest signed work of T'oros Roslin, the most accomplished Armenian illuminator and scribe of the 13th century. They were created in 1256 for Constantine I.

Based on reporting by AP and Los Angeles Times

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