Friday, 21 September 2012

More Questions About Harvard "PapDodge"

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The dodgy papyrus (now unofficially re-christened PDodge by David Gill) which surfaced recently on the collectors' market and now being handled by a scholar from Harvard Divinity School is the subject of a YouTube video (hat tip to Prof. Gill for spotting it). I was particularly interested in the speaker's slip of the tongue at 1:30:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=vlmoILJmH4M#t=87s
 "starting with the notion that it was a forgery... trying to convince ourselves, ah, trying to make arguments against that..." 
Yeah, right.
Perhaps worth noting is the way that the Smithsonian Magazine gives the information: "The man responded the same day, saying he’d purchased it in 1997 from a German-American collector who acquired it in the 1960s in Communist East Germany". That however seems to conflict with a slightly ater passage in the same text: "The collector knew nothing about the fragment’s discovery. It was part of a batch of Greek and Coptic papyri that he said he had purchased in the late 1990s from one H. U. Laukamp, of Berlin". Is "Laukamp" the name of a dealer, or the German-American collector? This purchase was made in the US or Berlin? The situation is now complicated because the owner asserts that now: "A European manuscript dealer has offered a considerable amount for this fragment. It’s almost too good to be true” - well, one might ask how that dealer found out who over the Atlantic has what when the present owner is being so cagey about his identity. Does this dealer exist, and does he have a particular buyer in mind for this trophy piece?
 
So when this "Laukamp" guy was offering this item around "in the late 1990s", accompanied by a letter setting out why Professor Fecht thought it was so important, is there no record that he approached any major institutions with the offer to buy it and it ended up in private hands? Is that not a bit suspicious?

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