I come to bury Green, not to praise him

Unfortunately the Washington Post, reputedly the paper of record, went for blind eulogizing of Steve Green and his planned Bible Museum yesterday:

Hobby Lobby’s Steve Green has big plans for his Bible museum in Washington - The Washington Post

I'm hoping that Michelle Boorstein is using a heavy dose of sarcasm here:
Steve Green is standing in the basement of the eight-story Bible museum he’s building in Washington. Plans for the $800 million project are coming together nicely: the ballroom modeled after Versailles, the Disney-quality holograms, the soaring digital entryway with religious images projected on the ceiling, the restaurant serving biblically-themed meals
But my issue is not poor taste in decorating, it's the fact that Boorstein has written what amounts to a puff piece the Hobby Lobby museum, seemingly regurgitating their PR, without doing even a simple Google search that would have clarified how bloody controversial the museum's acquisition policy is. And by 'controversial' I don't mean "some scholars are against it" ... I mean that at least one acquisition is in direct contravention of both a US MoU and its import into the US in breach of US customs laws.

Almost two years ago I pointed out - Dorothy King's PhDiva: The Tale of the Very Dodgy Papyri ... - the obvious: that these papyrus fragments of Galatians 2:2-4 and 5-6 being discussed on a Biblioblog and on sale on eBay were highly dodgy. Not only did the seller admit to having smuggled them out of Egypt, with whom the US has a MoU, but that he was offering to post them from Turkey, which did not allow the export of antiquities.

Plenty of people who were well aware of the law were quite happily buying off the seller, and having the items sent by post to the US.

eBay refused to do anything about Lot 221146685190 or any other illegal items this seller listed under this or other handles. You can read my various posts about it here: eBay.

Finally, it an attempt to convince eBay the seller was dodgy as hell, I 'bought' one his lots, and gave him enough rope to hang himself: Dorothy King's PhDiva: So I Bought A Papyrus on eBay ...

eBay still couldn't have cared less. When I left negative feedback, they initially removed it, although it has now reappeared:

It was Don Quixote 1 - Windmills 0, and I had met the first looted item I had failed to get returned ... I felt as if I was banging my head against a brick wall.

Then the brilliant papyrologist Roberta Mazza visited an exhibition about the Green collection in Rome - A trip to Rome (with a detour on eBay). A Review of Verbum Domini II - and noted:
But I must confess that the fragment which attracted my attention mostly is number 28 in the catalogue (GC.MS.000462, p. 42 with figure 26). This is a humbler papyrus fragment from a codex page containing lines from Galatians 2 in Sahidic Coptic. The label reports that the item dates to the 5th-6th century AD and is undergoing research with the Green Scholar Initiative (as most of the items in the exhibition). I remembered this piece well, because it was noticed by Brice C. Jones among those put on sale on eBay from a Turkish account (MixAntik) in October 2012. At that time, Brice wrote a post about it on his blog, and there were reactions from people alerting on the legal issues concerning this selling. Dorothy L. King has also written on this and other fragments posted on eBay by MixAntik in her blog more than once. I have contacted Brice, who is going to write on this bit of the story in his blog soon.
See also her recent paper available here.

The Italians are not the best at dealing with items looted from other countries, but the owner was clearly Green, a US citizen, and he almost certainly planned to show the fragments in his US museum-to-be.

ICE could have seized the papyri on an import customs violation but ignored my email.

As a quick side note, the only cultural property blog I regularly read is Paul Barford's and he's been very on the ball on this one, and blogging info when I couldn't. See for example his: Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues: Green Collection and a Certain EBay Dugup Dealer

Barford has also been on the ball when it comes to the Green scholars destroying ancient Egyptian cartonnage from mummies as part of 'education' at Baylor University; see Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues: US Christian Apologist Fanatics Destroy Ancient Artefacts

See also Brice Jones here; Jones took this screen shot from this video.

The deliberate destruction of Egyptian antiquities to try to find fragments of Biblical texts goes against everything every reputable scholar in the world believes. And is really rather different from the image presented in the Greens' Passages Exhibition adverts:

As a government agency, ICE should not be turning a blind eye to what the Greens and their Green Scholars Initiative are doing, and I sincerely hope their agents have not done so to support fellow Christians. eBay clearly doesn't care and their mantra must be: profit before adhering to the law.

If islamic fundamentalists destroy cultural property to propagate religious propaganda  - whether it's the Taliban or ISIS - we're metaphorically up in arms. Why do we treat Christian fundamentalists differently? Why do we make allowances for the Green Collection scholars destroying ancient Egyptian mummies? If this ain't religious discrimination, I don't know what is.


  1. Ah the US government and it's ignorramuses Christians. Their almost as bad as radical Islam in some parts of the country. Living in the unchurched PNW, one does not escape the stupid. Because between TV and Bible study classes there are enough brainwashed idiots to follow the greedy, egocentric Pastors, no matter were one or lives. America has

  2. A problem with religion and with critical thinking. Most public education is about following direction, not about being able to think for themselves. I would say from the responce you received along the way, and from the news story, that those college students couldn't say no, and if they had made any suggestion that what they were doing was wrong, they would be shunned, and suspect, and their futures derailed. Christians, like my religions only believe in their own narrative. Other narratives are evil and their distruction is mote. If its OK with a Priest, or Pastor, it's OK. No matter that they have no training, or understanding of science , history. We have the bible! Jeez that's just wonderful, Bible, Koran. Not much diffence in behavior. Religion, an way to destroy understanding

  3. Sorry about spelling and grammar. I'm on an old computer, and editing in posts is problematic. Don't know why.

  4. My own spelling is awful at the best of times - thank goodness (mostly) for spell-check as with me dyslexia rules K.O. ;-)

  5. I was given a wonderful education. At the time, top 10 High Schools in the country. But my parents are very Catholic. The have never like the result. A women who thinks? I also am an artist. In the last few years I have found out I am left handed. Religion, education, self expression. Don't go together, the stupid American problem is not going away. Not with parents that defeat futures of their children, because of religious education.

  6. You sinister woman ;-)

    I am quite 'religious' but I always think it's better if you show by example rather than try to indoctrinate - people always rebel against that!

  7. Didn't learn to read or spell till the 2nd grade. Needed glasses. Read about 500 a minute now. For some reason the spell check on the computer I'm using freezes up on spell check. Mine is in the shop.
    But going t to subject. Don't stop fighting against the ignorance. Otherwise they win. And religion has done enough damage already.

  8. I have found my religious training to be a hindrance in critical, logic at times. Most religions look at women as 2nd classes souls. I know that's not true. So I walked away from that abusive relationship.

  9. Actually I also emailed the info to the Turkish Ministry of Culture, but I'll decline to name my source there.

    British police can't act on such an issue unless they are officially asked to act as agents by a foreign police force - ie Turkey or Egypt


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