Blogger and academic Brent Nongbri has a series of posts on recent developments, starting here
The affair goes back to 2011 when Scott Carroll, Tweeted about a new Gospel fragment, older than any known. It really came to the fore in 2012 when conservative Bible scholar Daniel Wallace dropped the news as a bombshell in a debate with Bart Ehrman. Wallace indicated that it would be published in the near future, but it took until 2018 when it was revealed as a late 2nd or early 3rd Century manuscript.
In the meantime there were a lot of questions and claims about the manuscript - unsurprisingly given the claimed date and the lack of information. Most of the claims turned out to be false.
One of the mysteries in the affair was the ownership of the papyrus fragment. Although the fragment was eventually identified as belonging to the Egyptian Exploration Society it was earlier claimed that it had been bought for the Hobby Lobby Green Collection ( linked to their Museum of the Bible). Even though the EES denied that it had ever been for sale.
It seems that the Green Collection had signed a purchase agreement for it - and three other alleged “1st Century” Gospel fragments - but not from the EES. They had been buying it from Dirk Obbink, the respected papyrologist who has been working with them, and who had supplied the erroneous dating.
All very suspicious. Especially as we know that the Green Collection has not been entirely scrupulous with regard to acquisitions.
Edited by PaulK, : Corrected position of quote mark in title
Edited by PaulK, : Added some background at Percy’s request
The way that the fragment was dropped into a debate and the years of rumour that followed - as people true£ to make sense of it, and because the publication kept receding (a clear red flag).
That the Green Collection was mostly a victim here is interesting, but they only became a victim because of their own culture of silence and their own greed. They never got a proper provenance for the fragments they were sold, even though they would be massively important - and sold cheap. The Mark fragment is still the earliest known piece of Mark, even if it is early 3rd Century. And it would still be a bargain at the asking price,
It also raises questions about Obbink’s other discoveries, notably a previously unknown poem by Sappho.