An Oxford University professor has been arrested on suspicion of stealing papyrus biblical passages from an ancient collection held at the university and selling them, according to The Guardian. Dr. Dirk Obbink, an associate professor in papyrology and Greek literature, was accused last year of selling fragments of the papyri collection after one of its oldest pieces was discovered in an Egyptian garbage dump, The Daily Beast first reported. Obbink, 63, has consistently denied the accusations and called them a “malicious attempt” at defamation.
Obbink was suspended from Oxford last October amid an ongoing investigation into the vanishing biblical fragments. The Oxyrhynchus collection is housed at the Sackler Library University in Oxford but owned by the Egyptian Exploration Society (EES). The missing fragments were allegedly sold to the Museum of the Bible in D.C., owned by the evangelical Green family, who also founded Hobby Lobby. EES Director Dr. Carl Graves said the museum had returned the 13 missing fragments to the Sackler Library. “These are early fragments of the gospels or biblical fragments,” Graves said. “They are testament to Egypt’s early Christian heritage and are early evidence of biblical scripture. We don’t value them monetarily but they are priceless and irreplaceable.”