4/12/06

GJudas: Ancient Coptic Manuscripts on Ebay? The Mysterious Case of Mr. Bruce Ferrini, Et Al.

An Answer

I just stumbled across this post from Chris Weimer's blog, which really answers my question from yesterday concerning the other manuscripts physically related to the Gospel of Judas (physically related as a "manuscript" not socio-historically as a "text," though ultimately there may not be a difference in this case). Here he relays some information from the mysterious van Rijn via the incredible Roger Pearse (who is emerging is a bit of a hero in the midst of all this misdirected publicity) from a peculiar message board. In one frightfully helpful post, Pearse says:

"Few people seem to be aware that the codex containing the ps.Gospel of Judas came with a second codex containing further texts:

- the 'Book of Exodus' in Greek
- 'Letters of Paul' in Sahidic dialect and a
- 'Mathematical Treatise' in Greek.

Yesterday I wrote to art dealer Michel van Rijn, who has been recording the dodgy dealings around this find, asking if he knew how to contact Bruce Ferrini, the last known owner of these texts. Michel kindly replied, and allowed me to reproduce this interesting (but appalling) comment:

"Thanks your email. Ferrini is keeping himself unreachable... Yes Ferrini sold pages of the Judas, Exodus and mathematical treatise.

"Pages of the Exodus were sold to James E. Ferrell and are now part of the Ink and Blood traveling exhibition... The mathematical treatise was sold by Ferrini together with Samm Fogg, London, to Lord Thomson of Fleet, Canada.

"And Getty sponsor, Lloyd Cotsen, bought several pages. Judas?"

None of this is good news. I imagine that the codex has been reduced to a pile of fragments, of which saleable leaves are being sold, and the remainder, no doubt, thrown away. Can nothing be done to stop this destruction?"

This brings us to a total of six reported texts that are physically related to the Gospel of Judas, the two early Christian texts mentioned below (which are also named in the description of the National Geographic volume on GJudas along with something they are calling the "Book of Allogenes"), and the three listed above as part of the second codex by Pearse. Any correction on this point is appreciated.

A Sale!

Now here is the interesting bit, on this same thread, Pearse links to a sale on Ebay of a fragment at this link that he says is from Ferrini. The item here is actually a Coptic fragment (not Greek as the original title claims) in a rather free cursive script which certainly provides an interesting late example of papyrus construction, as you can see so clearly how the fibers run in perpendicular directions. It would make a handy educational aid. And at this link there is one of a few other 5/6 century Coptic fragments on sale. Frankly, there are enough different hands here that it seems unlikely one could definitively land something from the GJudas codex (which would be a nice addition to anyone's library). How curious that one can pick up these fragments of history with a few clicks of the mouse button.

(4/12 Update: This really is Ferrini's Ebay account.)

A Cast of Characters

This post is starting to wander, but it is worth it. Perhaps the most interesting result of this whole Gospel of Judas situation is the fantastic host of characters it has brought into the limelight. We have Rudolph Kasser working on a manuscript, Roger Pearse following the story for years (credit should also be given to Davila at Paleojudaica who picked up the story early), Michael van Rijn doing whatever mysterious thing it is that van Rijn does, and then this guy Bruce Ferrini who keeps popping up in ancient manuscript intrigues. It is worth scrolling down the page here to read a few articles about Ferrini and the ill-fated From the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Forbidden Book exhibit. There is a very interesting post from Lee Biondi (Ferrini's partner in the DSS exhibition) here, in which he mentions Ferrini and the DSS controversy. Van Rijn also makes a special anonymous appearance towards the beginning of Biondi's comments. Other than that, Ferrini seems to have an interesting job and I would love to browse his current stock, not least of which because some think he still has a few bits of these two codices. Perhaps there really is more to this story then meets the eye. Still looking...

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

This Ferrini is destroying an incredible amount of manuscripts, I think somebody must try to stop him. There must be some law in Ohio that forbids to do what he is doing...
Of course at a very different level, he is very active on ebay by buying, tearing apart and re-selling all sorts of manuscripts. His online store is at
http://stores.ebay.com/Writing-and-the-Mind-of-Man
you can check his ID history to see that he is indeed "bferrini" or "bpferrini".
Just as an example, he bought in June 2006
a beautiful Armenian scroll (item 7038965144 on ebay) for over 2000 dollars and he has now chopped it off in pieces and trying to sell them (see item 290004164508 in his store)-
There must be a way to stop this guy!!!

Anonymous said...

Just watch this:
Here is another example of what Ferrini is doing on ebay.
He bought this book: 150019703042
He is selling it leaf by leaf.
Here is one of the leaf: 300024313423

Let's do some math. A page of this book could be sold $12.50. The book "had" 540 pages (which gives 270 leaves). Then, if he sell all the leaves at this price, he his making $3375.

Now, just remember that he bought the book $961... This guy is making a LOT of money... while destroying history...

What can we do for that?

Adam said...

I am glad to have found this site. I am a collector of Egyptian stamps. By chance I searched e-bay using 'Coptic' and found a lot of other sellers as well selling leafs of ancient books.
As to how to stop them, why not directly write to ebay and let them know. I am not that familiar with the manuscripts but find it as if throwing away history.

Anonymous said...

what is the situaton of this Mr Ferrini now?

Anonymous said...

Hassan Ali
I have an old Coptic book and I am offering it for sale can you let me know how to go about it if I want to reserve the history and i make money. reply to antique_bc@hotmail.com

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