TECHNOLOGY

Oxford professor arrested for stealing "priceless" Bible fragments that were sold to the US Museum


The 63-year-old professor of classics in Oxford is arrested for the theft of "priceless" papyrus bible fragments "stolen from the university library collection and sold to the US Museum".

  • Dr. Dirk Obbink, 63, was arrested last month for suspected theft and fraud
  • 13 fragments of papyrus bible were stolen from the Sackler Library at Oxford University
  • The associate professor of papyrology and Greek literature denied the claims
  • The Washington DC Bible Museum brought all 13 fragments back to Oxford

A classic professor from Oxford University was arrested on suspicion of theft of old Biblical papyrus.

Dr. Dirk Obbink, 63, was arrested by police last month for suspected theft and fraud after 13 old biblical papyrus fragments were sold to the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC.

The associate professor of papyrology and Greek literature at Oxford University has been released as the police continue to investigate.

On November 12, the Thames Valley police received a report that 13 priceless old biblical papyrus fragments had been stolen from Oxford University's Oxyrhynchus collection.

Dr. Dirk Obbink, 63, (pictured) was arrested by police last month on suspicion of theft and fraud after 13 old biblical papyrus fragments were sold to the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC. He denied allegations of wrongdoing

13 fragments of papyrus bible were stolen from the Sackler Library at Oxford University, where the Oxyrhynchus collection was kept (archive image)

13 fragments of papyrus bible were stolen from the Sackler Library at Oxford University, where the Oxyrhynchus collection was kept (archive image)

Dr. Obbink denied any wrongdoing and said the allegations were a "malicious attempt" to harm his reputation and career.

The old papyrus was originally found in the Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchus in the early 20th century.

The Egypt Exploration Society (EES), which owns the fragments, claims the old papyrus was stolen from the Sackler Library at Oxford University and ended up in the Museum of the Bible.

EES director Dr. Carl Graves said: “These are early fragments of the Gospels or biblical fragments. They are evidence of the early Christian legacy of Egypt and early evidence of the Scriptures. We don't value them financially, but they are invaluable and irreplaceable. & # 39;

The old papyrus fragments were sold to the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC (picture). They worked together and returned all 13 pieces to the Egypt Exploration Society

The old papyrus fragments were sold to the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC (picture). They worked together and returned all 13 pieces to the Egypt Exploration Society

In a statement on its website in 2019, the EES said: "The MOTB (Museum of the Bible) has informed the EES that 11 of these pieces have been brought into their care after being sold to hobby lobby stores by Prof. Obbink, most of them in two batches in 2010. & # 39;

He also said that the Museum of the Bible was cooperative and that all 13 biblical fragments had been returned.

The museum was founded by the billionaires Green, who own the Hobby Lobby chain.

What is papyrus?

Papyrus is a plant, more like a reed that used to grow in Egypt. In ancient times, the Egyptians used small, light boats, sandals, mats and baskets as well as a paper-like material to describe them.

This writing material is also known as papyrus. Papyrus sheets were often glued together to form long scrolls (scrolls) for long documents like books of the dead. Documents written on papyrus are called papyri.

The oldest example of a papyrus scroll (without writing) dates from 2985 BC. The oldest written papyrus document dates from 2495 BC.

Source: The Fitzwilliam Museum

Dr. Obbink was suspended from Oxford in October, a month before the theft was reported, following an investigation into the disappearance of the papyrus fragments.

The fragments that come from Genesis, Exodus and Deuteronomy are of different sizes, contain different numbers of words and took decades to put them together.

Dr. Obbink had previously told the Guardian, “The charges against me for stealing, removing, or selling items belonging to the Egypt Exploration Society collection at Oxford University are completely wrong.

“I would never betray the trust of my colleagues and the values ​​that I supposedly wanted to protect and maintain during my academic career.

"I am aware that documents are being used against me that I believe have been maliciously attempted to damage my reputation and career."

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