It has now been made public, by the Oxford Blue that American papyrologist Dr. Dirk Obbink, an associate professor in papyrology and Greek literature at Oxford University, was taken into custody on 2 March 2020 by the Thames Valley police on suspicion of theft and fraud. His arrest last month came in direct response to a formal complaint filed on 12 November 2019 involving the theft of papyrus fragments from the Oxyrhynchus collection, owned by the Egypt Exploration Society (EES), and housed at Oxford's Sackler Library.
To date some 120 pieces have been identified as having been removed without permission from Oxford University premises. Thirteen of these fragments eventually found their way to the United States where they were purchased by the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC.
Genesis 5: P.Oxy. inv. 39 5B.119/C(4-7)b. [PAP.000121]
Genesis 17: P.Oxy. inv. 20 3B.30/F(5-7)b. [PAP.000463]
Exodus 20-21: P.Oxy. inv. 102/171(e). [PAP.000446]
Exodus 30.18-19: P.Oxy. inv. 105/149(a). [PAP.000388]
Deuteronomy: P.Oxy. inv. 93/Dec. 23/M.1. [PAP.000427]
Psalms 9.23-26: P.Oxy. inv. 8 1B.188/D(1-3)a. [PAP.000122]
Sayings of Jesus: P.Oxy. inv. 16 2B.48/C(a). [PAP.000377]
Romans 3: <related to P.Oxy. inv. 101/72(a)>. [PAP.000467]
Romans 9-10: P.Oxy. inv. 29 4B.46/G(4-6)a. [PAP.000425 one part]
1 Corinthians 7-10: P.Oxy. inv. 106/116(d) + 106/116(c). [PAP.000120 three small fragments]
Quotation of Hebrews: P.Oxy. inv. 105/188(c). [PAP.000378]
Scriptural homily: P.Oxy. inv. 3 1B.78/B(1-3)a. [PAP.000395]
(parchment) Acts of Paul: P.Oxy. inv. 8 1B.192/G(2)b. [MS.000514]
Obbink was appointed to the University Lectureship in Papyrology at Oxford in 1994, taking over the post vacated by Peter Parsons when the latter took up the Regius Chair of Greek. His appointment at Oxford combined a variety of responsibilities, includes a Tutorship at Christ Church, where he lectured on a wide range of classical material and at one point included the direction of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri Project and its related Imaging Papyri Project which gave him complete access to the society's collection.
Obbink's involvement as the seller of these ancient texts, appears to have been a side pursuit which he has been involved in for a considerable period of time.
Suspended from duties at Oxford in October 2019 pending further inquiry, Obbink has only issued one public statement, for his part, denying any wrongdoing. In that public statement, Obbink stated:
“I would never betray the trust of my colleagues and the values which I have sought to protect and uphold throughout my academic career in the way that has been alleged. I am aware that there are documents being used against me which I believe have been fabricated in a malicious attempt to harm my reputation and career.”