Saturday, June 29, 2019

Scott Carroll Responds to Christianity Today Article

Scott Carroll, Dirk Obbink, and Jerry Pattengale
On Elijah’s last blog post, Scott Carroll has chimed in, giving his side of things. I thought I would repost his comment here so it doesn’t get lost in the comments.
As you are aware, I seldom post to blogs, so forgive my intrusion.
  1. Despite what one might think of DO and what he has done (and that is yet to be untangled), it doesn’t feel right to me for someone to use his fall as an opportunity for self-promotion.
  2. The CT editor knew that I hadn’t spoken with the author, JP, for over 7 years (and not because of a binding non-disclosure). You would hope to think that the editor would have vetted many of the things said as only one person’s recollection was critically tied to the piece even though there was another person in the room. It was regrettably filled with misrepresentations, misrecollections, and exaggerations. The mixed narrative doubtless left the uninformed reader confused. I personally hold CT responsible for this.
  3. The basic elements of my recollection of those initial interactions have not changed since 2011. DO showed me the MK 1 papyrus on the pool table in his office. He said it had been dated to the late 1st or early 2nd c and he then went into some paleographic detail why he believed it must date to the late 1st c. It was in this conversation that he offered it for consideration for HL to buy (w/o mentioning a price). I said I would mention it to them which I did. I seem to remember mentioning it to them on occasion, but they never asked me about it or mentioned it to me. With my departure in June of 2012, I never signed a non-disclosure agreement.
  4. These are my recollections based on my brief conversation about the Mk 1 papyrus with DW. I mentioned it to DW briefly in passing. I told him that the dating was based on the opinion of a renowned Oxford scholar. He mentioned a debate, which I knew nothing of, and asked if he could mention it. I said it wasn’t owned by HL so I couldn’t speak for them. I told him he would have to use his own discretion. It wasn’t my debate and how could I possible tell DW (who I did not know) to do something like that? And for what benefit to HL or DO? I did not have pictures of the papyrus. I do not think there could have been any way possible for DW to have seen Mk 1 before debate.
  5. I wondered over the past 7 years why none of these people who knew the truth (non-disclosures aside) could step-up and verify what they knew. Why was the author of the CT article walking around with a scrap of paper in his wallet for 7 years like a memento verifying what happened without mentioning it to me or anyone else? The EES asked over a year ago (loosely paraphrased) ‘Who are we to believe the eminent DO or this nobody SC?’ No one could speak to the truth; afraid of DO and afraid of HL. Truth is never bound by non-disclosures. A year after the publication of Mk 1 and 7 years after the initial offering the CT articles feels more like a cover-up than an exposé. When people see that something is wrong and they don’t speak out against it, they become part of the problem and perpetuate it.
  6. I am sure much more will come out on this and related topics. I would hope to think that everyone will be the better for it. My best.
At this point, the one key person we have not heard from is Dirk Obbink himself. We’ll wait to see what he says.


  1. Well, it appears we now have strong multiple independent attestation that a pool table was involved; we simply need to get some coloured beads and start voting on the veracity of the other narrative elements...

  2. SC: I agree very much with two parts of your post.

    1) There were parts of the CT article (some of the most critical ones, actually) that I just didn't get, and wasn't sure if I was confused or the author was confusing. I *did* get the self references though...

    2) As you say in Part 5, everyone just needs to come clean and speak the truth. This whole affair makes no one look good.

    To that precise end, I have three questions, one I'm curious about, one I'm confused about, and one I'm intensely concerned about, in that order:

    1) You mention the article author's misrepresentations, misrecollections, and exaggerations, and I assume these refer at least in part (large part) to your involvement. Could you gives us some examples (e.g., is the cadillac one of them?);

    2) Among those who may not really know, it has often been said that you were the one who purchased the papyrus for the HL; can you confirm that's not the case? And if so, can you tell us who did? (OK, that's two questions in one);

    3) In your own presentations on the papyrus to public audiences in the years prior to publication you indicated that as a "liberal" scholar, I - you named me by name and indicated where I teach -- would now have to rework my entire chronology of the New Testament since I taught that Mark was the last Gospel to be written and that it was produced in 200 CE. There is not an element of truth in that: I've never taught, said, or thought any such thing in my entire life. I have always maintained Mark was the first Gospel written around 70 CE, as anyone who has ever read me knows, going back to my NT textbook in 1997. Given your insistence on speaking the truth in this whole affair, can you explain yourself? I don't know any way to read you comment (and if anyone wants to read it, there is a transcript on Brent Nongbri's blog) other than as an attempt to sully my reputation and spurn my scholarship. But it's just not true.

    I know you and most readers of this blog will disagree with me when it comes to matters of faith. But at least we can be honest and truthful when having our disagreements. Maybe this 1C Mark debacle will help? Let me say for the record, in case there is any doubt (as there seems to be in some circles), if we ever *do* find 1c mss, indeed, if were were to find 27 originals, there is no one on the planet who would be more giddy and excited than I.

  3. This is odd. There were other replies, including one from Carroll and now they're gone.

    1. Look at the previous blogpost.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Who took the photo?

    1. The fourth person in the room.