What an exciting period for papyri. In just a couple of weeks we have seen one papyrus on sale on eBay by Turkish seller MixAntik in 2012 resurfacing among the items of the Green Collection on exhibit in Vatican city. We then have found the former director of that collection, Scott Carroll, now head of Scott Carroll Manuscripts & Rare Books Inc., explaining in a video freely available on line how to dismount mummy masks for obtaining papyri and showing the papyri themselves with the assistance of his wife at an event in Mexico. In the video he shows slides with some of the images certainly taken at Baylor University, where he had a position in the past and collaborated with scholars on the Green Scholars Initiative.
Then we have been informed by Brice C. Jones on the great interest of the evangelical Christian apologist Josh McDowell in papyri: not those on display or that can be consulted in most public and private collections, but the new ones that these experts in the US seem able to retrieve very easily from collectors who are happy to submit their antiquities to them.
Biblical scholars, finally provided with good quality images of the papyri showed in the slides that Scott and Josh have used in their events, have discovered to their dismay that in fact these papyri were those Green collection fragments that some of them accepted to publish many months ago under the supervision of the Green Scholars Initiative specialists as they are reporting and discussing in the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog.
From this blog and other sources, we have been also informed that the Green Collection/Green Scholars Initiative asks editors of their papyri to sign a non-disclosure agreement. I am now dying to read a copy of this previously unknown type of contract. This is unheard before: please give me parallel cases if you can. Scholars who work in papyri collections know that images, copyrights and editions are serious matters, but I’ve never heard of a collection asking editors to sign such documents. Why is that document necessary for the Green Collection? I really don’t know, since what I have seen from the above mentioned images and in the exhibition do seem very normal papyri (a part the one that comes from eBay, of course). I am surprised that academics usually so much and rightly concerned about independence of research are signing such agreements in order to publish: what a strange world!
We also read the director of the Green Scholars Initiative, Jerry Pattengale, criticising on the Wall Street Journal the scholars who have worked with Karen King on the so-called Wife of Jesus Gospel papyrus for their signing of a non-disclosure agreement (must be a new American trend at this point), among other issues. Has the Green Scholars Initiative the exclusive right to use such agreements? Very confusing…
But to oddities there’s no end: in fact today we have been provided with a new video where a man in his seventies talks to an audience about the truth of the Bible and dismounting mummy masks, wearing a pink shirt, tight blue jeans, red All Stars, and a belt with the symbol of Superman.
Indeed a wild, wild life…