Scott Carroll and the Hobby Lobby / Museum of the Bible organization cut ties in May of 2012. Yet, his public presentations after that time continued to include images of manuscripts, such as the Bodmer Psalms codex, that are known to have been part of the Green Collection and/or the Museum of the Bible collection. So, it can sometimes be hard to tell which of the manuscripts that Carroll displays are actually owned by him. One way to begin to sort this out is to examine the actual manuscripts that remained in his possession after May of 2012. I think it’s safe to assume such pieces probably belonged to someone other than the Hobby Lobby / Museum of the Bible organization (either to Carroll himself or to other parties). This would seem to be the case with a set of classical papyri that Carroll passed around at a talk in California perhaps in early 2015. With this it mind, it may be helpful to revisit some older, reasonably well known videos of Carroll’s talks and reassess the manuscripts he displays.
For instance, already in 2014, both Brice Jones and Roberta Mazza highlighted an event that took place at the University of the Nations in Mexico in September 2013. Video of the event is available here and a rough transcript of the English portions of the event can be found here. Although online discussion of the event rightly focused on the destruction of mummy masks depicted in the video, we can also learn something about Carroll’s personal collection of manuscripts. During his presentation, Carroll had multiple Christian and non-Christian manuscripts in his possession.
At about the 15 minute mark, Carroll begins to discuss a frame of papyrus fragments he held up to the crowd (top right corner in the image below):
He emphasized what most interested him about it: “This came from a mummy mask. And the person who owned it would have been happy to sell it for a small amount. But we knew that the text inside was worth hundreds of thousands of dollars more. So my representing the collector brings value to them. . . this is worth just under 2 million dollars.” Only later in the video are the contents identified as a work of Menander. This is presumably the same set of fragments of Menander shown in the video in California that I mentioned earlier:
At the 33:30 mark, Carroll mentions a papyrus containing a work of Euripides: “We have, uh, Euripides who’s quoted by Jesus in the New Testament. Wouldn’t it be interesting to have a text of Euripides to display? I have one from a mummy mask, and my wife will pass it around.”
Once again, this is presumably the same papyrus of Euripides that he showed in the California talk:
At about the 36 minute mark, Carroll comments on a manuscript of Exodus he is passing around (top left corner):
Again, he emphasizes the characteristics he finds most salient: “We have the earliest text of Exodus 24 here. . . No one will pay 1.1 million dollars for that text that is in his hands [the Exodus fragment] unless you know for sure it dates to when it dates to.” I don’t recall having seen a fragment of Exodus 24 in Carroll’s other videos, so I don’t have a better image to provide at this time.
At about the 38 minute mark, Carroll comments, “I do have here, the earliest text of Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb of Jesus. . . That’s the oldest anywhere in the world of that portion of Matthew 27 and 28.”
This would seem to be a parchment leaf that Carroll has displayed in other lectures:
At the 39:30 mark, Carroll makes comments that suggest a fragment of Luke was being passed around the room: “While we’re passing around texts, this is the earliest text in the world of Luke 16. . . Please make sure I get them all back.” No footage of Carroll is shown at this time, but he has in other videos displayed a papyrus fragment identified as containing Luke 16 (the item on the right):
Then follows (at about the 40 minute mark) a brief description of a codex containing a collection of Paul’s letters in Coptic Carroll claims he identified from photos while eating at a Thai restaurant in Oklahoma City (a story he is very fond of retelling in these lectures). This codex is identified as having come from “a collector in the middle east” and as now being “owned by a German collector. It was appraised for over 7 million dollars and, uh, sold for, uh, somewhat less than that.” So, in this case, Carroll helpfully identifies a piece as not belonging to him.
He continues describing the codex of Paul’s letters: “Underneath that text was this. And two weeks ago I had time to look at it. Two weeks ago. And it turns out to be the earliest text of Timothy in any text. So let me pass this around as well.” So, this manuscript of 1 or 2 Timothy that Carroll is passing around, he seems to have kept for his own collection.
At about 46:40, Carroll passes around another manuscript: “This is the earliest text of Psalm 3 and 4. You can see it’s written in a book form.”
This would appear to be the papyrus leaf that Carroll has displayed in other talks:
So, to sum up, these videos show Scott Carroll in possession of at least the following Christian manuscripts:
a manuscript containing text from Exodus 24
a papyrus leaf of Psalm 3 and 4
a parchment leaf containing Matthew 27-28
a papyrus fragment containing Luke 16
a fragment containing text from 1 or 2 Timothy
This is in addition to the several classical manuscripts that Carroll also seems to own:
papyrus fragments of Menander
a papyrus fragment of Euripides
a papyrus fragment of Plato
a papyrus fragment of Aristophanes
a papyrus fragment of the Iliad
It is likely that other manuscripts from the images in Carroll’s various slideshows belong to him, but these pieces are the ones known to be in his possession after May 2012. If readers are aware of others, let me know, and I’ll add them to the list. And, as always, the usual questions apply: From whom did he buy these pieces? And, have they already been sold to others?
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