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Hobby Lobby faces another Bible artifacts scandal

by Onize Ohikere
Posted 10/16/19, 12:37 pm

Renowned classics professor Dirk Obbink is accused of stealing and selling as many as 11 ancient Bible fragments to Hobby Lobby. The Egypt Exploration Society, which manages Oxford University’s Oxyrhynchus Papyri project, said Monday the arts and crafts retailer bought the fragments in two batches back in 2010.

How did Hobby Lobby get involved? The Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby and also founded the Museum of the Bible, has gathered one of the largest sets of Bible antiquities in the world. In 2017, the U.S. government ordered Hobby Lobby to pay a $3 million fine for illegally importing thousands of artifacts from Iraq. Last year, the museum pulled five Dead Sea scrolls from display after acknowledging they were forgeries.

Dig deeper: From the WORLD Magazine archives, read senior reporter Emily Belz’s report on the Museum of the Bible and smuggled artifacts.

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Onize Ohikere

Onize is WORLD's Africa reporter. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a journalism degree from Minnesota State University-Moorhead. Onize resides in Abuja, Nigeria. Follow her on Twitter @onize_ohiks.

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  • OldMike
    Posted: Thu, 10/17/2019 02:10 am

    In the 18th and 19th centuries, and for at least half of the 20th century, wealthy Western collectors and museums helped themselves to the statues, scrolls, pottery, art, etc. of the ancient world. It was presumed that those around the Mediterranean, Asians, and America’s indigenous peoples had little interest or understanding of the artifacts they plowed up in fields or covered up during construction. 

    That attitude appears to have been a part of what drove the Greens in their quest for Biblical artifacts. 

    Pride might have also played a part—opening a huge new Bible museum in the Nation’s Capitol. 

    Unfortunately when someone is known to be spending a wad of cash, there are always plenty of grifters coming out of the woodwork with offers to sell  everything the buyer’s heart desires. 

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Posted: Thu, 10/17/2019 09:14 am

    I like the Greens for they have stood up and fought against the left when Obama was in power where they stood for our Christian liberties. I highlight this because it was not guaranteed that they would win and they spent millions in the lawsuit, I am sure. He was also trying to save old relics where  ISIS and others were destroying them.

    Also the Bible museum was a worthwhile activity for he was protecting the evidence of our faith. Unfortunately, he got tangled up in some of the laws on old relics where even Christians are criticizing him, though I think unfairly. If I had his money, I would do the very things he has done, but hopefully avoided the legal issues with the relics. 

  • OldMike
    Posted: Fri, 10/18/2019 10:40 pm

    Cyborg 3, Thank you for bringing up some good points, and making me realize my criticism of the Green family seemed harsher than I intended. 

    I understand the Greens are committed Christians and their desire to build a Museum of the Bible is commendable. I do not believe the Greens had any intention of breaking or evading any laws, but rather got caught up in “the thrill of the chase” when acquiring items for the museum. The fact that ISIS and other radical Islamist groups have intentionally destroyed Christian and other historic artifacts surely made speed seem imperative.