The “First Century” Mark Purchase Agreement: Some Initial Questions

The letter and documents provided by Mike Holmes in my previous post appear to provide confirmation of what many have suspected since the publication of P.Oxy. 83.5345, the so-called “First Century” Mark fragment: This papyrus and other Christian manuscripts in the Oxyrhynchus collection were offered for sale by one of the (now former) curators of the Oxyrhynchus collection, Oxford professor Dirk Obbink.

It has long been known that, especially in the early days of the building of the Green Collection and conceiving of the Museum of the Bible, Dirk Obbink was an important part of the undertaking.

Scott Carroll, Dirk Obbink, and Jerry Pattengale, circa 2011; image source: Jerry Pattengale’s introduction for Dirk Obbink in Vol. 1 of the Passages Speaker Series.

But until now, the main piece of evidence linking Professor Obbink with the attempted sale of an Oxyrhynchus manuscript was the statement of Scott Carroll in a thread of blog comments shortly after the publication.

Some further digging through Scott Carroll’s online videos turned up an additional statement by Carroll that Oxford University was the source of at least some of the mummy masks that Carroll had purchased.

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Posted in Antiquities Dealers and Collectors, Antiquities Market, First Century Mark, Green Collection, Mummies, Mummy cartonnage, Oxyrhynchus Papyri | 30 Comments

“First Century” Mark, Dirk Obbink, and Hobby Lobby

I am pasting below an e-mail I and several other people received this afternoon from Mike Holmes regarding P.Oxy. 5345, the so-called First Century Mark and other Oxyrhynchus fragments allegedly sold by Dirk Obbink:

[Update: For some initial reactions, see my questions here and Elijah Hixson’s here.]

“Dear Bart, Roberta, Brent, Jill, and Elijah,

I am sending you this note because (1) we are all members of the SBL panel scheduled to discuss P.Oxy. 5345, otherwise known as “1st c. Mark” (FCM), at the SBL Annual Meeting in November, and (2) earlier this year I acquired some additional information regarding this document—information that I feel obligated to communicate to you, in your capacity as fellow panelists.

You will recall that in the aftermath of the publication of P.Oxy. 5345 in mid-2018, one of the lingering questions centered around the role of the Green Collection (owned by Hobby Lobby Stores) in the matter. Given that the Egyptian Exploration Society (EES) repeatedly (and rightly) affirmed that the fragment has never been for sale, why did representatives of the Green Collection seem to think that the Collection had acquired the fragment?

The answer is relatively straightforward: Prof. Dirk Obbink sold it and three other allegedly early Gospel fragments to the Green Collection, the result of negotiations that began in early 2012 and continued into early 2013, when a purchase agreement was executed. Continue reading

Posted in Antiquities Dealers and Collectors, Antiquities Market, First Century Mark, Green Collection, Oxyrhynchus Papyri, Scott Carroll | 30 Comments

Another Part of Scott Carroll’s Manuscript Network

A couple days ago, Roberta Mazza pointed out that Scott Carroll and Josh McDowell have been active recently in Russia. Thanks once again to the sharp eye of David Bradnick, another piece of Scott Carroll’s network of manuscript dealers is beginning to come to light. David notes the image below, which comes from a video describing Scott Carroll’s exhibition in St. Petersburg, Russia:

The manuscript on the right is a facsimile of a fragment of 2 Kings in Coptic on parchment. It is pretty clearly meant to represent the manuscript that Carroll was displaying back in 2016:

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Posted in Antiquities Dealers and Collectors, Antiquities Market, Scott Carroll | Leave a comment

The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath: Synoptic Problems

I’ve been knee-deep in Synoptic Problem things for the last couple weeks, and it has been quite enjoyable. The degree of complication you face when trying to balance the best critical text of each synoptic gospel with the question of dependence among the gospels really is tricky. The saying in Matthew 12:8 (and its parallels) presents a fun puzzle. After the Pharisees confront Jesus because his disciples plucked grain on the sabbath, each gospel ends the passage with a version of this saying. Here are all three gospels in Throckmorton’s synopsis (NRSV translation):

Matthew 12:8
the Son of Man is

of the sabbath.”
Mark 2:28

“the Son of Man is
of the sabbath.”
Luke 6:5

“The Son of Man is

of the sabbath”

Aside from the introductory “For” in Matthew, the core saying differs in just one word across the three synoptic gospels, the “even” in Mark. Thus, the passage presents a very minor agreement between Matthew and Luke against Mark. That is how the NRSV translation makes it appear, anyway. The situation in the Greek text is a little more complicated. Here is the text of the passage in the 28th edition of Nestle-Aland along with its critical apparatus:

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Posted in Codex Vercellensis, New Testament, Textual criticism, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Harris Homer Roll Online

Harris Homer Roll Small

Detail of British Library Papyrus 107, the Harris Homer roll; image source: The British Library

A couple years ago, I wrote an article on two papyrus manuscripts now housed in the British Library, the so-called Harris Homers. I’ve written on this blog before about the curious story of their discovery in the “Crocodile Pit of Maabdeh” in Egypt in the middle of the nineteenth century. They were supposedly found by the British collector Anthony Charles Harris (1790-1869) and later sold by his daughter, Selima Harris (ca. 1827-1899) to the British Museum. One of these manuscripts was the remains of a papyrus roll, perhaps copied in the first or second century CE, containing book 18 of Homer’s Iliad. The other, the other was (in its present form) a single papyrus quire consisting of of 9 sheets of papyrus folded in half with parts of books 2-4 of the Iliad, probably copied in the third century CE and inscribed only on the recto of the leaves (the versos were apparently left blank and reused at a later date). Continue reading

Posted in Anthony Charles Harris, Antiquities Dealers and Collectors, Find Stories, Harris Homer, Mummies, Selima Harris | Leave a comment

The New York Public Library and P52

There was a rather depressing article in the New York Times about the New York Public Library a few days ago. But reading the story brought back some fond memories for me. I first visited the main branch of the library at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street when I was a graduate student. I was writing a term paper that would become an article called “The Use and Abuse of P52.” In those days, I was lucky enough to have access to the wonderful libraries at Yale University, but on a handful of occasions over the years, even they couldn’t manage to get some resources I needed. One of these instances resulted in a trip to the New York Public Library.

Deissmann P52 Headline

I went in search of the December 3, 1935 issue of the Deutsche allgemeine Zeitung, which contained an article by the famed New Testament scholar Adolf Deissmann, who had given his opinions about the newly published Rylands fragment of the Gospel According to John (P.Ryl. 3.457=P52=LDAB 2774) in this popular periodical. The NYPL was one of the few places in the US that had a copy. Quite a few institutions carried the title on microfilm, but the microfilms inevitably lacked the 1935 issues. Continue reading

Posted in Adolf Deissmann, P.Ryl. 3.457, Palaeography, Rylands Papyri | Leave a comment

The Date of P.Köln 10.406 (P118)

One of the habits of papyrologists and New Testament scholars that I’ve tried to highlight over the last decade is the practice of dating the handwriting of ancient manuscripts by comparing them to other samples of handwriting that are themselves of uncertain date. Another good example of this phenomenon is P.Köln 10.406 (better known to New Testament scholars as P118), fragments from a leaf of a papyrus codex containing Paul’s letter to the Romans (LDAB 10081) copied in two columns per page.

P118 PKöln 10 406

P.Köln 10.406, fragments of a leaf of a papyrus codex containing Romans; image source: Die Kölner Papyrus-Sammlung

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Posted in Codices, P.Bodmer II, Palaeography | 1 Comment