In earlier posts I’ve discussed a number of early Christian manuscripts associated with the Green Collection (papyri of Genesis, Exodus and Hebrews, Matthew, Romans, and 1 Corinthians). Most of these pieces were featured at different points in the “Passages” speakers series and other media outlets in 2011 and 2012, when Scott Carroll was still working with the Green family to build their personal collection.
After he parted ways with the Green family, Carroll continued to publicly discuss and display images of manuscripts he had acquired while working with the Greens. One such occasion was a talk that seems to have been given in January of 2016. Carroll was speaking to a church audience and mentioned several “newly discovered” manuscripts. Many of these certainly were part of the Green Collection. The others might be as well.
Now, there is a lot going on in this video. For starters, Carroll gives an overview of his post-Green-Collection occupation in 2016. It’s worth pausing at the outset to note his new manuscript-related undertakings (some of which which have been highlighted by Brice Jones in 2014 and Roberta Mazza in 2015). With the slide displayed below in the background, Carroll spent a couple minutes talking about his new business:
From about the 12:00 to the 14:45 mark, Carroll describes his activity in 2016 making appraisals and facilitating sales of manuscripts:
“I work on, um, identifying ancient documents. So, that’s my job. . . .I work with other professors, and we’re, we, we go all around the world, working with things that are recently discovered. And we help people to understand what they have. That’s what we do. It’s a very valuable service, because people who wanna sell things, these things always date, uh, prior to 1970. 1970 is the UNESCO hard date for things, things that come up, that can’t be proven that they were in possession of people’s hands legally and all. After 1970 they’re–We deal with nothing, uh, bef–, uh, after the date of 1970. So we have to work through and verify those things, and do it with the greatest, uh, integrity because people are relying on it. But, there are families that have large collections, for instance, of papyrus, which is what you see up here. It looks like a rat’s nest. There are thousands of texts on a table. Um, I’ll fly–A day in my life: I’ll fly, um, across to, uh, a country in Europe and, uh, be looking at a pile of manuscripts like this, and they’ll, the family that owns it, will be very interested in wanting to sell it, even though it was in their family for decades. Um, I will, uh, when I fly somewhere, I hit the ground running. Um, I immediately begin work. And to sort through this that you see there takes about a day and a half, believe it or not. It’s going through finding which ones fit together, which ones appear to be more valuable than others. And I can, I can just say, and I’m telling you this stuff so you understand what I, what I do. Um, in this particular holdings (you see I’ve worked through some in the front that are in a pile; I sort them by language, by date, and so forth). Um, this one had like five seriously important documents that were in it. What do I mean by ‘seriously important’? Well, I don’t want to get down into the, you know, talking about money-related issues, because that’s irrelevant. But these things were each worth, like, millions of dollars. Right there on the table. So of course then the people are motivated to want to sell them. I don’t sell anything. I don’t buy anything. Rarely. But what we do is work with other people who have now contacts, with families, with museums, with libraries, and they acquire these things. And so these sorts of things are all–come from all around the world. They go through us, myself and other people who work with us, and they end up in museums.”
After this introduction, Carroll outlines a number of “new discoveries,” including the Green Collection Sappho fragments, classical fragments said to have been extracted from a mummy mask, fragments of the Iliad, papyri of Plato, and a parchment fragment containing the “life of Caesar Augustus.” At about the 19:25 mark, Carroll moves into a discussion of biblical manuscripts:
“I was keeping count over the last four, five years. There are hundreds of discoveries, you know, not just, you know, like ten or twenty but hundreds of discoveries, to give you a context. . . . We work very closely helping Josh McDowell with his ministry, just helping him have relevant numbers, so that he’s not out there saying something that’s outdated. Um, these are, uh, Dead Sea Scrolls–worked with many Dead Sea Scroll fragments. The traditional Dead Sea Scrolls biblical fragments if you look online or something is around 227, 230. There are now over 300 biblical texts found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. So it’s just–and then there are texts that are found of the Greek Old Testament.”
At this point, he rapidly flips through a series of slides. I provide screenshots with Carroll’s identifications below them [and my occasional comments in brackets]:
A Hebrew manuscript of Genesis [one of the Museum of the Bible’s fake “Dead Sea Scrolls”] (left) and a Greek papyrus fragment of Genesis (right)
Two papyrus fragments of Genesis
A fragment of Genesis (left), a papyrus fragment of Exodus [a leaf of the “Tchacos-Ferrini” Exodus] (middle), Deuteronomy reused in a book binding (right)
A papyrus fragment of the Psalms (left) and a parchment leaf of what appears to be the Gospel According to John (right)
Papyrus fragments of Luke 2 (left) and Matthew 12 (right)
Two papyrus fragments of Luke (Luke 12 and Luke 16, according to Carroll)
Romans 3 and 4 on what looks like parchment (left) and Galatians 4 and 5 on papyrus, [possibly P135?] (right)
1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, and Galatians in Coptic [
probably part of the “Tchacos-Ferrini” codex of the Pauline epistles? see comment by Alin Suciu below] (left) and “an early text of Hebrews chapter 9” [i.e. P130]. (right)
Carroll later claims that he is aware of 160 New Testament papyri (as opposed to the 139 currently on the INTF Liste) and also provides another description of the manuscript formerly known as “first-century Mark.”
Carroll does not share any information about the provenance of any of these pieces. I reiterate my curiosity about the source of such numerous, legible early Christian papyri. Nor the present status clear of several of these pieces clear. Have any (besides the fake Dead Sea Scroll) been donated to the Museum of the Bible? Or do they remain in the Green Collection? Or have they moved elsewhere?
As I said, there’s a lot going on in this video. The full talk is available to view on Vimeo.