Weekly Meanderings, 11 January 2020

Weekly Meanderings, 11 January 2020 January 11, 2020

Keep your eyes on this blog site because in ten days or so it will move to … Christianity Today. I’m looking forward to moving there but I am grateful over the years for BeliefNet and Patheos. I’ll be providing a link when I know what it is.

Fresh meals for the homeless is his calling:

CHICAGO — For the past seven years, Michael Airhart has started nearly every morning by packing his car with a grill and as many coolers of food as he can squeeze in.

Unlike shelters that often only have sandwiches to pass out, Airhart serves up pork chops, burgers, gyros and even steak hot off the grill to those who could use a good meal the most.

“Just because you’re homeless, doesn’t mean you’re not human. You still crave good food and deserve to have a decent meal,” Airhart said.

The effort he calls “Taste for the Homeless” isn’t Airhart’s job; he makes team mascots for a living. But he says feeding the hungry is “his calling.”

Since he depends on donations to buy the food, Airhart says some weeks there’s more than others, but he’ll serve up whatever he’s able to purchase.

“This isn’t government-funded. It’s not state-funded. It’s just people like yourself doing something kind for those down on their luck,” Airhart said. “I care about these people. They’re like family to me.”

On January 12, Airhart will be moving his grills to Columbus Park for an event for Chicago’s homeless. Through the help of volunteers and donations, he hopes those who make it will leave not only full, but also with a bag of clothes and necessary toiletries in hand.

Oxford’s manuscript scandal:

In total, the EES has now discovered that 120 fragments have gone missing from the Oxyrhynchus collection over the past 10 years. Since the appearance, in June 2019, of that fateful purchase agreement and invoice bearing Obbink’s name, the scale of the scandal has taken time to sink in. What kind of a person – what kind of an academic – would steal, sell, and profit from artefacts in their care? Such an act would be “the most staggering betrayal of the values and ethics of our profession”, according to the Manchester University papyrologist Roberta Mazza.

The alleged thefts were reported to Thames Valley police on 12 November. No one has yet been arrested or charged. Obbink has not responded to interview requests from the Guardian, and has issued only one public statement. “The allegations made against me that I have stolen, removed or sold items owned by the Egypt Exploration Society collection at the University of Oxford are entirely false,” he has said. “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.”

It seems that Dr Dirk Obbink is either a thief, has been caught up in a colossal misunderstanding, or, perhaps most shockingly of all, is the victim of an elaborate effort to frame him.

A case for Inspector Morse, perhaps. But the real detectives in this case have been a transatlantic band of papyrologists, theologians, classicists and biblical scholars, who have turned their deductive and evidence-sifting professional skills to the mystery. For them, what started as intellectual curiosity has turned into something more like a crusade against the perversion of the ethics of their field.

This band of scholarly sleuths, who have published their findings in books and on blogs and social media, includes the theologian Candida Moss; Brent Nongbri, a scholar of early Christianity based at the Norwegian School of Theology; Mazza, whose investigations have sometimes made her feel, she said, as if she were in a Coen brothers’ movie; and the contributors to a blog called Evangelical Textual Criticism. The last, a forum “for people with knowledge of the Bible in its original languages”, has not, until now, had much call for “breaking news” banners.

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