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Papyri and Disappointment

October 15, 2019

Yesterday, I learned of the recent posting on the Egypt Exploration Society website concerning reports of papyri in the ownership of the EES that allegedly were sold on to Hobby Lobby by Professor Dirk Obbink.  The EES statement is here.

To read the EES statement is, for me as well as some others, a shocking and disappointing experience.  For the statement suggests what may have been a persistent practice of selling on papyri that were not Obbink’s to sell.  I met him several years ago, and became impressed with his expertise in papyrology.  When initial claims about his involvement in the improper sale of papyri first surfaced, I found them hard to believe, as I had high respect for his expertise and character.  But, in light of the EES statement and the findings that lie behind it, I can only express my deep disappointment in Obbink.

I don’t regret giving him the benefit of the doubt initially.  It is, however (so it appears), a sad development in the story.  It is right that Hobby Lobby is cooperating with the EES in the full investigation of the extent of improper sales of papyri, and has agreed to return to the EES papyri that were improperly sold.

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  1. Jean-Pierre CASTEL permalink

    Dear Larry W. Hurtado,
    May I ask you questions which have no direct link with this thread (excuse me, I’ve not found another way to contact you):
    1° Is it justified to say that Hebrew is a contextual language compared for instance with Greek whih is more conceptual? Whar bibliography on thi issue?
    2°Truth is generally translated by ‘emet. But ‘emet refers more to loyalty, faith, strength than to the usual meaning of truth i. e. conformity to reality. Could you tell me whether there is another Hebrew word which better corresponds to truth as conformity to reality?
    Best Regards

  2. Dear Larry,

    This is indeed troubling. I wouldn’t think that an Oxford don would need the money from such illicit sales. Why, then, would he have done that?

    As ever, Jim


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