Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Biblical Oxyrhynchus papyri stolen and sold?

WHAT A MESS: An Oxford professor allegedly stole ancient Bible fragments and sold them to Hobby Lobby (Katie Shepherd, Washington Post).
Since 2012, scholars and University of Oxford officials have been trying to trace a rumor that the oldest Bible fragment ever discovered not just existed but had been mysteriously stolen and sold to American arts-and-crafts giant Hobby Lobby.

Now, officials said they have finally cracked the case. The suspected thief at the center of the biblical controversy? Professor Dirk Obbink, one of the most celebrated classics professors in the world, a Nebraska native and MacArthur “genius grant” recipient who had long directed — and allegedly looted — Oxford’s Oxyrhynchus Papyri Project, a collection of centuries-old literature recovered from an ancient Egyptian garbage dump in 1896.

Read the whole article for details. These are serious accusations. So far, Professor Obbink has not responded to the most recent round of them. Some time ago he did deny that he sold a fragment of a manuscript of the Gospel of Mark.

We'll just have to see how this plays out.

Background here and links.

Also, here are some recent blog posts on the situation.

From Variant Readings (Brent Nongbri):

Breaking: EES Stolen Manuscripts Update

How Many Oxyrhynchus Papyri Have Been Sold?

From Evangelical Textual Criticism (posted by Tommy Wasserman):

NEWSFLASH: ‘Professor Obbink and Missing EES Papyri’ – MOTB returns 13 Papyri to EES!

News Statement: ‘Museum of the Bible Helps EES Recover Antiquities’

See also this Daily Beast essay by Professor Candida Moss:

INDIANA JONES BREAKS BAD. Hobby Lobby Scandal Widens as Museum of the Bible Admits Oxford Prof Sold Illicit Papyri to Green Family. The Museum of the Bible revealed today that at least 13 biblical fragments in its collection were illicitly sold by a Oxford professor to Hobby Lobby's Green family.

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