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Dead Sea Scrolls Go to Court

A brilliant young Harvard Ph.D. faces jail for impersonating a Bible scholar—and rival of his father

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Raphael Golb and his attorney Ron Kuby in court on Nov. 18, 2010. (Steven Hirsch/Splash News)

On Tuesday, Jan. 8, the New York Supreme Court convened for a hearing in the case of the People vs. Raphael Golb. The matter? That in July of 2008, Golb, a Harvard doctorate, created an email account in the name of Lawrence Schiffman, formerly professor at New York University and now vice provost for Undergraduate Education at Yeshiva University. From, Golb sent emails to the dean, the provost, and the faculty of the Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at NYU where Schiffman was formerly the chair.

In the emails, the fictional Schiffman admitted to having plagiarized the work of Norman Golb, professor at the University of Chicago’s prestigious Oriental Institute, Dead Sea Scrolls scholar—and also Raphael’s father. “It is true that I should have cited Dr. Golb’s articles when using his arguments,” the email reads, “and it is true that I misrepresented his ideas. But this is simply the politics of Dead Sea Scrolls studies. If I had given credit to this man I would have been banned from conferences around the world.” It was signed—by some accounts, implausibly—“Lawrence Schiffman, professor,” with a lower-case “p.”

Raphael Golb admits to having sent the email, but he maintains that it was an act of parody, rather than criminal impersonation. “I was exercising my right to expose, condemn, and ridicule the misconduct of other people,” he says. “It says more about Schiffman than it does about me, that people might have believed that an informal email from a gmail account admitting to plagiarism, signed with a lower-case ‘p’ in professor, could have come from an NYU department chair.” The defense argued that Golb was well within his First Amendment rights and that the prosecution was trying to make hurting feelings into a criminal act. But the defense argument failed. In September 2010, Golb was convicted before Judge Carol Berkman of 30 counts of identity fraud, harassment, forgery, and criminal impersonation of Lawrence Schiffman.

Yet for impersonation to be criminal, benefit must be shown to the impersonator, or harm to the impersonated. (To see how common this otherwise is, try typing “Britney Spears” into a Twitter account search.) Jordan Kovnot, a privacy researcher at Fordham Law School, told me in an email interview that in “most computer hacking crimes involving unauthorized access, such as creating an email account under false pretenses, the law generally does require some showing of harm, unless the target was the U.S. government. That was not the case here.” In a recent telephone interview, Schiffman himself insisted that he suffered no harm; “the opposite, I got a big raise out of it,” he said—noting his recent move from NYU to YU, where he makes more money than he did at NYU—“though emotionally it was very difficult.” Without harm or benefit, it is difficult to understand how the prosecution managed to make the felonies stick.

Raphael’s father, Norman Golb, the subject of Golb’s email, was also shocked at the verdict. “Since when does a civilized society allow a prosecutor to invade the academic territory of learning and take sides?” he asked incredulously, in a recent interview. “Quarrels among scholars should be settled among scholars, not in court.” His son agrees: “Schiffman should have picked up the phone and called my father, not the FBI,” the younger Golb said in an interview after the hearing.

But Judge Berkman—herself an object of controversy, a judge whose verdicts have been rejected by appellate courts with terms such as “a gross miscarriage of justice”—insisted over and over throughout the trial that “neither good faith nor the truth is a defense” and based her decision, she wrote, on her sense that Golb’s email was “a parody over the line.” Golb argues that “she forbade me from defending the claim made in the email that Schiffman had plagiarized my father, and yet she allowed the prosecution to insist 170 times before the jury that I had made ‘false allegations.’ ”

Schiffman, of all people, corroborates this point. “I plagiarized him?” he asked me incredulously, reenacting the part he played on the stand. “I’ve published hundreds of books and articles, and he’s only published the same article over and over! I wasn’t supposed to talk about it at the trial,” Schiffman admitted. “But I realized no one would stop me, so I just went on and on, and the jury—they were eating it up.” Last Tuesday, Golb’s case was heard by five judges. He is now waiting to hear whether he will go to jail for six months as sentenced—in what might be seen by scholars, humorists, and devotees of the First Amendment alike as a gross miscarriage of justice.

And still, two important questions remain: Did Schiffman plagiarize Norman Golb’s work? And if so, why?


The Dead Sea Scrolls have sparked controversies of many kinds over the years since their discovery in Jordan in 1947. The story is now famous: the shepherd throwing a rock into a dark cave after an escaped goat, the sound of shattering, the hope for gold, the discovery of one of the 20th century’s most important archeological finds. There were seven scrolls in the first discovery, three of which were snapped up almost immediately by Prof. E.L. Sukenik of the Hebrew University, probably for a few hundred dollars. The remaining four scrolls eluded Sukenik’s grasp and were instead sold to Khalil Eskander, an antiquities dealer and shoemaker known as “Kando,” who sold them to a Christian clergyman—the Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan Mar Athanasius Samuel. Mar Samuel paid 24 Palestinian pounds for the scrolls, or $97.20, and smuggled them into the United States.

After failing to interest universities including Yale, Samuel placed an ad in the “Miscellaneous for Sale” section of the June 1, 1954, Wall Street Journal: “Biblical manuscripts dating back to at least 200 B.C. are for sale,” the ad read. “This would be an ideal gift to an educational or religious institution by an individual or group.” Lucky for Mar Samuel, Yigal Yadin, son of Prof. Sukenik, was in the market for an ideal gift to an educational or religious institution. Yadin had recently retired as IDF chief of staff and was on tour in the United States promoting his book. Through intermediaries, Yadin managed to purchase the remaining four scrolls for $250,000 and delivered them into the hands of the Israel Antiquities Authority. Mar Samuel ended up paying the lion’s share of the $250,000 to the IRS.

Such is the story of the first seven scrolls. However, since 1947 many more have been discovered in caves in and around Qumran, but also in Masada and near Jericho. The scrolls purchased by Israel represent less than 5 percent of the total scrolls now in the possession of the Israel Antiquities Authority. Until 1967, the other 95 percent were in the Palestine Archeological Museum, nationalized by Jordan. When that museum was captured by Israeli paratroopers and renamed the “Rockefeller Museum,” the scrolls were moved to the Shrine of the Book.

For Norman Golb, the rescue—or seizure—of the scrolls by the State of Israel during the Six Day War was the crucial event of his scholarly life. Until 1967, there was an informal Christian monopoly in place: Father Roland de Vaux, a French Dominican priest in charge of the scrolls, restricted access to only a select few, and not a single Jewish scholar had access to the scrolls. In the interview I held with him in his hotel room in New York City, Golb recalled a trip to Israel in 1957 during which time he wrote a letter to Father de Vaux, asking for permission to visit Jordan to see the scrolls. Father de Vaux refused, saying his team was hard at work and not to be disturbed. With only seven scrolls at the Hebrew University, Golb did not feel that he had enough material to confirm any theory about the scrolls. After 1967, though, Golb and other Jewish scholars could finally read the scrolls for themselves.

Yet while Golb and other Jewish scholars rejoiced, others view the reallocation of the scrolls to Israel as a more complicated phenomenon. According to Weston Fields, executive director of the Dead Sea Scrolls Foundation, “the Dead Sea Scrolls are spoils of war. According to the Geneva Conventions, the scrolls were not allowed to be moved from East Jerusalem,” he elaborates. “Israel is ignoring international law and falsely advertising to museum visitors what they are seeing.” While Jordan continues to ask for the scrolls back—as recently as January 2010, Jordan filed a complaint with UNESCO suing for the scrolls—experts remain unsure whether the scrolls would get the same care from Jordanians that they do in Israel. And though Fields believes that Israel should not be profiting from the scrolls, he admits that “the conservation efforts have been very good, definitely better than the care they would have seen in Amman.”

Yet there are also those who allege that in fact, very little has changed since the monopoly on the scrolls was inherited by the IAA. As recently as 1991, the New York Times and the Washington Post reported on the “scroll cartel”—the fact that many of the scrolls remained unpublished and accessible only to a select few. Though this monopoly was broken later in the 1990s, museum exhibits continue to present a single view—supported by the monopolists and the IAA—regarding the scrolls’ origins. The original scholars who encountered the text assumed that an obscure ascetic first-century sect of 4,000 members known as the Essenes had authored the scrolls in their home in Qumran, and this theory (sometimes with slight variations) still enjoys a monopoly in the presentation of the scrolls on tour in the United States at museums such as the de Young, the Jewish Museum, the San Diego Museum, and the Library of Congress.

But in 1970, soon after the Christian monopoly on the scrolls ended, a different theory emerged. Once he had access to all the scrolls, Norman Golb began to question the Essene theory. For Golb Senior, the evidence for the Essene theory of origins simply didn’t add up. Firstly, there was scant evidence that anyone, including the Essenes, ever lived at Qumran, a site that is shaped more like a fortress than a settlement, as Golb argued in a 1985 article in The Biblical Archeologist titled “Who Hid the Dead Sea Scrolls?” Furthermore, if the scrolls were written in Qumran, why are there no originals with original signatures? Why do so few of the texts—out of over 800—reflect in any shape or form the ascetic principles of the Essenes? And why are there women buried in Qumran if the Essenes were celibate?

Pliny, the source material for what we know about the Essenes, insists that they were averse to weaponry, and yet weapons abound in the fortress in Qumran. Is it reasonable to think that a sect of 4,000 wrote thousands of scrolls? Is it reasonable to believe that a cohesive group was responsible for the variegated viewpoints represented in the texts? These are the sorts of questions that Golb felt could not be answered by the Essene theory, propagated by a band of Christian clerics and field archeologists without the proper scientific and historical training.

“The heart of the scrolls is the struggle of the Jews to survive.”

For Golb, the discovery that helped shape his own sense of the likely origins of the Dead Sea Scrolls were the scrolls found at Masada in 1965. “Josephus tells us that the Jews fled Jerusalem during the Jewish War in two directions, to Masada, and to Machaerus,” Golb said. The Masada scrolls forced Golb to look outside of Qumran for the scribes who penned the scrolls. “I never considered myself a Qumronologist,” he said. “My project has always been the history and culture of the Jews in antiquity and the Middle Ages.” Golb argued in a Jerusalem Post interview in 1970 and in an article in 1980 that the scrolls were copies, relocated from an intellectual hub, on the eve of the Jewish War in 69 AD. The absence of originals provides strong evidence that the texts were not penned in Qumran at all. What the scrolls reveal is a doctrinally divided Jerusalem in spiritual turmoil, a community with a wide variety of practices and beliefs. “The heart of the scrolls is the struggle of the Jews to survive,” Golb told me passionately.

Despite the scientific and logical nature of Golb’s work, it went largely unrecognized for decades and was actively excluded from the public eye. Though hesitant to speak ill of other scholars, Golb attributes the continued insistence on the Essene theory as a result of what he calls “Qumronology,” by which he means a myopic focus on Qumran, “nurturing a theory that is not a bona fide scientific phenomenon.” When asked if he thinks the marginalization of his work is personal, Golb shakes his head. “I don’t care if it’s personal or not personal. I only care about the lack of evidence for the Essenes. I’ve urged the Qumronologists to reconsider, but they refuse.”


Some have suggested that there is money involved in sustaining the Essene theory, but apart from large donations, it is difficult to substantiate such claims. Nevertheless, it is curious that Golb’s alternative theory would have been so painstakingly hidden from the public eye while international conferences and museum exhibits portrayed the Essene theory as incontrovertible. However in recent years a subtle shift has occurred: Golb’s theory has begun to approach the status of received wisdom, while Golb himself remains a pariah in the field. Many scholars seem now to be in agreement that some, many, or even most of the scrolls were not of sectarian origin and came from “elsewhere” (code in the field for Jerusalem).

When did this reversal occur? To a large extent, with the publication of Lawrence Schiffman’s 1990 article “The New Halakhic Letter (4QMMT) and the Origins of the Dead Sea Sect” and his book Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls (1994)—in which Schiffman misattributes to Golb the implausible theory that the scrolls exclusively represent the remains of the Jerusalem Temple library, while arguing in favor of one of Golb’s key points: that the scrolls reveal the variety to be found in inter-testamental Judaism. Schiffman, an Orthodox Jew who has accused Christians of trying “to Christianize the message of the texts,” performed a close reading of one of the scrolls to conclude that the texts were not the work of the Essenes but rather a breakaway, Sadducean sect who were solidly Jewish, proto-Pharasaic, even halachic in their practice and writing.

In 1993, Avi Katzman, an Israeli journalist, published an interview in Haaretz in which he pushed Schiffman on the similarities between his work and Golb’s previous writings.

“But you also, in different articles that you published, have not hesitated to appropriate portions of Golb’s theory without acknowledging as much, and without giving him appropriate credit,” Katzman asserted.

“This isn’t the issue,” Schiffman responded. “There’s no innovation in Golb’s theory. … Golb can say what he wants. The idea that we’re not dealing with a sect is self-evident. Does he think that he wrote the Bible?”

Golb’s son Raphael is a devoted child with a combination of awe and protectiveness when it comes to his father—but it is important to note that his admiration for his father’s work is not simply an act of filial piety. Schiffman has suggested that Golb was behind the attempt to tarnish his reputation, but to this, Norman Golb only laughs. “Raphael is brilliant. He has a Ph.D. from Harvard, and a law degree, and he’s written his own book. I wanted him to write in his own field, comparative literature, but he was interested in this. He likes the field.”

Golb bemoans the injustice being done to his son, but his work has been brought to wider public notice. He says his son was “rather rash, but brave to do it. And after seeing all that I had gone through, how they had tried to suppress my ideas, he had every right to do it.”


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Stephen Goranson says:

1. The thirty convictions were not all for R. Golb’s actions against L. Schiffman.

2. “Westin Fields” should read Weston.

3. Philo and Josephus wrote that there were *more than* 4000 Essenes–hupertetrakischilioi.

4. Those who, early on, associated Essenes with Qumran included, among many others from diverse backgrounds, Sukenik and Yadin.

5. Some Qumran manuscripts are older than the Second Temple period
settlement there, so it has long been known that some of them had to
come from elsewhere.

6. Some of the Qumran burials may be later Bedouin burials.

Before the Qumran discoveries, several scholars (from diverse
backgrounds) proposed that the name Essenes derived from Hebrew ‘osey
hatorah, observers of Torah, which is now found as a self-designation in
some Qumran scrolls that are considered to be Essene because the
teachings and practices in them match ancient descriptions of Essenes.

    It should be clarified that the other convictions mentioned
    by Stephen Goranson involve efforts to criminalize anonymous blogs
    and e-mails criticizing various academics – blogs and emails that
    while not abusive or threatening were experienced as “annoying”.
    See the documentation gathered on the Raphael Golb Trial blog:

    AnnePatricia says:

    Don’t mean to change course of topic here, but I’d like to add that Gor. was also a victim, and I believe opening a blog in Dr. S’s name (and I never did see in the transcripts whether the email account opened in Gor’s name was also used to create the blog as well as listing it for posting and contact information) and then using the Gor. email account at least for a contact (when you click on the name of the poster his email showed) – in my opinion, that seems to be a form of Identity Theft.

      I have read the transcripts with care, and the above is frankly rubbish–as it happens the account was never used for correspondence/contact with the outside world (but who in fact cares?); this little “side conviction” dramatizes the damage a rogue judge – a judge who understands her role as that of prosecutor’s aid – can do. (We need only look at her recent condemnation for “gross miscarriage of justice” by the same appeals court now carefully considering the constitutional and other issues in Raphael Golb’s case.) Otherwise, I believe all but one of the “harassment”/misdemeanor charges were based on sending letters of inquiry about ethical standards in museum exhibits etc. that the recipients found “annoying.” Say what?

      duchat says:

      Quite frankly, and with due respect, AnnPatricia, your opinion matters little when it comes to issues of law. What might seem like identity theft to you does not translate into what the law requires in order to establish such a charge, which is namely, an attempt or success in obtaining tangible benefit or causing tangible harm in the course of using someone else’s identity. Establishing this in R. Golb’s case requires a pretty extreme stretch of the imagination.

An excellent article, which does a better job at most at suggesting the very real significance of this criminal trial.

Full documentation of the case is available online at:

Let one thing be clear: the anonymous Internet campaign of the Dead Sea Scrolls provocateur CLEARLY CROSSED THE LINE into precisely the sort of deviant, and highly subversive, conduct that needs to be countered by the most rigorous action in the New York criminal courts.

DSarna says:

I think this article needed to be vetted by an attorney skilled in the subject matter being discussed.

duchat says:

The sheer absurdity of bringing this case to trial in the first instance boggles the mind. As noted attorney, Ron Kuby said, “Some people need to get out more.”

    Batya Ungar-Sargon says:

    I just want to say that I was completely drunk when I wrote this article.

    Ord_Miller says:

    If he has torpedoed his own career by using forgery to try and disrupt the career of Mr. Schiffman, it looks like Dr. Golb could always try and make a living forging checks.

      duchat says:

      To compare forging checks for financial gain to what Golb did to Schiffman for the purpose of exposing what he genuinely believed to be the truth is the pinnacle of ludicrous thinking.

        Ord_Miller says:

        And here I thought using forgery to pin a false confession on someone is a “pinnacle of ludicrous thinking.”

          duchat says:

          Perhaps, but it’s not criminal. Or, at least, it ought not be.
          On the other hand, I think the idea was not so much to have the “confession” taken seriously, but rather to encourage officials at NYU to look seriously at the underlying plagiarism allegations in order to settle that issue either way and once and for all — not such a ludicrous aim.

          Ord_Miller says:

          Surely you would not say that using forgery to pin a false confession on someone is business as usual? If it is not criminal, than what is it?

          as said above, the key principle here is material gain–if the false/satirical confession is not to make money but is for another purpose such as exposing a misdeed, no crime–at most a libel case, to be decided in a civil court. That’s why the Yes Men have never been arrested on criminal charges for their various impersonations, which have fooled a lot of people and causing a lot of embarrassment and anger, but are fully protected by the First Amendment.

          Ord_Miller says:

          Impersonating an academic (or anyone), and submitting a false confession as that person to his or her employer seems a bit more than satire.

          Again, it’s the contents that matter here, not the form: Would it be a “crime” to use a false confession to expose a real murderer? Doing something that seems REALLY MEAN (at least to those who don’t take plagiarism and the damage it does seriously) doesn’t make it a crime. That’s not (hopefully) the way the law works here, as opposed to Russia or China.

          duchat says:

          Just to clarify, if you created a false confession to expose a murder, the confession itself could not be used in court as evidence against the person. Hence it really has little impact beyond identifying a potential suspect for further investigation. And any evidence that then follows from that false confession (e.g. a subsequent inquiry that elicited a real confession or the location of a body) would still be admissible in criminal court, as long as it wasn’t manufactured by the police/state. In other words, the methodologies used, so long as they weren’t done by the government or someone acting on behalf of the government, are fair game.

          So in the case of the plagiarism “confession,” that confession itself shouldn’t be the evidence used to sanction an alleged plagiarist. If that phony evidence (i.e. “confession”) lead NYU officials to do a proper investigation with proper and authentic evidence, it could and should be perfectly usable by an employer, just as any sort of whistleblowing, even if done pseudonymously, that ultimately leads to further investigations by the employer that yield compelling evidence of misconduct could render the investigated employee subject to fair disciplinary action.

          daized79 says:

          Well there wouldn’t be gain there would it. But impersonating someone for gain is a crime. As well it should be. Why on earth would you want to protect the ability of people to impersonate and damage you???

          duchat says:

          Arguably, a necessary prank designed to yield a positive result. At worst, a bit of mischief that can be ignored, especially since, no one really seriously believed it was written by Schiffman.

          Ord_Miller says:

          Submitting a false confession via forgery seems a bit more than a prank, but than Biblical scholarship is not a discipline in which I can claim expertise. What is obvious is that Dr. Golb has a truer friend and advocate in yourself than he probably deserves.

          duchat says:

          If the “forgery,” as you call it were more convincing instead of deliberately transparently phony, you might have a stronger point. You might not like Golb, and that’s fine. But criminalizing his behavior, annoying though it may have been to those on the receiving end, is disproportionate when taken in the context of the really serious crimes for which defendants routinely receive a slap on the wrist.

          duchat says:

          I think I’ve answered this ad nauseum.

          Might or might not be that, but such “ludicrous thinking” isn’t a crime, if there’s no material gain. That’s the fatal flaw in this railroaded case. In addition, the false confession was to something the guy actually REALLY DID, demonstrably. What if it wasn’t plagiarism involved here, but some far more hideous deed everyone was ignoring? Would it still be ludicrous to expose it this way? Which is worse, the wicked deed or its exposure through a fake g-mail, transparently satirical confession? Ask an ethicist, dude.

      daized79 says:

      If Gold is a doctor, so is Schiffman.

    daized79 says:

    I think probation would be more appropriate, but I think if you were the victim you would understand why this is a criminal case. It makes me angry and fearful and I’m not even the victim.

      duchat says:

      Why would you be angry or fearful unless you were one of the “victims?” Do you have some reason to believe you would be likely to be targeted?

        daized79 says:

        Are you some kind of sociopath who can’t have empathy for others? I can see what it would be like in his shoes. I’m a prosecutor. So lets say someone at work doesn’t like me and starts sending emails to my supervisor to get me in trouble. Really really scary. And people need to know there are consequences (if the younger Dr. Golb was a lawyer, he would, of course, be disbarred).

          duchat says:

          I think it’s a bit more complex than you’ve portrayed it, but sure, of course I would be upset if someone sent a letter to my supervisor to get me in trouble. On the other hand, perhaps Prof. Schiffman deserved to have some “trouble” in the form of a meaningful investigation of the plagiarism allegations. If they turned out to be unfounded, then, the matter would be closed. But if they turned out to have foundation, then he would deserve whatever sanction resulted.

          I think there is a difference between merely trying to cause someone trouble on the basis of something that one knows is false and having a genuine belief (even if ultimately mistaken) that wrongdoing has been committed, warranting an investigation and appropriate action.

          By the way, the younger Dr. Golb is a lawyer, though following his felony conviction, he has lost his license to practice — a pretty serious consequence in its own right.

          The reason I questioned your feeling fearful, by the way, is cause it doesn’t make sense that you would be afraid that this would happen to you (the ostensible basis for fear) unless you were somehow directly involved in the issues at hand.

    The New York Court of Appeals might ultimately agree with Ron Kuby’s assessment, because they have agreed to hear Mr. Golb’s appeal. See:

“renamed the “Rockefeller Museum,””???


Visiting Palestine in 1925, during the days of the British Mandate, James Henry Breasted, founder and director of the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute, recognized the need for an archaeological museum in Jerusalem to house important regional finds. Encouraged by Lord Plumer, the British High Commissioner, Breasted approached American philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who agreed to donate two million dollars toward the project….The museum opened to the public on January 13, 1938. Officially, it was called the Palestine Archaeological Museum, but was also known as the Rockefeller Museum.

    I think the meaning is “renamed” in the sense of given back its original name…

      yes, that is a “thought”. but i think her prose wrong there.

        On second “thought,” I think there is actually nothing wrong with the prose: the Wikipedia article states that “officially,” it was called the Palestine Archaeological Museum. Clearly the point is that it’s official name was changed to “The Rockefeller Museum.”

Documentation of the Raphael Golb trial and appeal is available at:

PhillipNagle says:

It appears to be more an act of petulance than parody. While I can’t comment on the legal matters (though Mr. Goranson seems to do an excellent job below), the younger Golb appears to be a spoiled brat who is throwing a fit when he doesn’t get his own way.

    One man’s parody is another’s petulance. I’ve read the trial transcripts–the “harrassment” convictions were guided through by that judge on the basis that letters inquiring into balance in museum exhibits etc. sometimes “upset” people–sounds similar to Russian “hooliganism” charges to me.

    You might want to read his own account of the trial and its background, at:

    AnnePatricia says:

    Precisely. He ought to take his punishment like a man, at least apologize for impersonating a 90 year old legendary Dead Sea Scrolls scholar currently in a nursing home (F.M.C.), that is sending letters signed using his name, speaking in the first person to Cross’s colleagues or recipients whom would recognize his name (even without the middle initial.) Also, the links in those emails sent to Dr. Sch’s colleagues were very serious matter of fact toned blogs, had absolutely no element of parody whatsoever. It may have started out as a parody (using the small letter p) but in the end result that’s not what happened/ evolved. And you cannot hijack someone (what Golb did to Dr. S.) and tell them all they have to do is to admit what I am accusing you have and I’ll stop trying to ruin your life. That’s clearly NOT parody either.
    See the DA’s Office appeal response for the complete picture on this matter: (or do a google search and the link should come up.)

    Also, it has been rumoured that Golb admitted there was never enough plagiarism to take this to civil court to begin with, so how did it end up in the criminal court? Read the trial transcripts carefully (Golb posts them on his blog.) He clearly states in emails that he’s not interested in the plagiarism anyway, and if anything the institutional problem going on.

      Here we see a good example of what the Raphael Golb Trial website calls the “myth of reverential satire.” Many parodies are malicious in tone and hard to detect as parodies; readers are often fooled. Contrary to the
      suggestion we’ve been hearing that parody is “just for fun,” the deadpan
      nature of many an accusatory parody does not mean that it’s not a
      As for F. M. Cross, this man allegedly committed serious research fraud while still an active scholar, falsifying the characters in the transcription of at least one ancient text (a so-called ostracon); if he did indeed do this, he deserved to be mocked. From reading the transcripts, it appears that Schiffman himself didn’t even know that Cross was in a nursing home.
      I do recall reading that Golb’s concern was the institutional problem, rather than the plagiarism itself. This makes perfect sense, because what he was obviously concerned with was the fact that the allegations had been suppressed at NYU, the institution in question.

        I actually found the emails quite funny :)

          Some of the blogs too :)

          Apt words, perhaps, from a New Yorker article by Tim Wu:

          Defenders of the prosecution seem to think that anyone charged with a felony must somehow deserve punishment… but today our criminal laws are so expansive that most people of any vigor and spirit can be found to violate them in some way. Basically, under American law, anyone interesting is a felon… In an age when our frontiers are digital, the criminal system threatens something intangible but incredibly valuable. It threatens youthful vigor, difference in outlook, the freedom to break some rules and not be condemned or ruined for the rest of your life.

          daized79 says:

          Oh please. It’s true there are way too many criminal laws. This is a terrible case to fight for that cause.

Golb was ostracized by the “Qumranologists” precisely because of the central role he played in freeing the scrolls for examination of all scholars, not merely a select few, in the early 1990’s, together with the threat his theory posed.Golb’s role in the matter was amply documented in his 1995 book.

    daized79 says:

    Okay, so why is his son such a douchebag? Sounds like the dad is respected and only a few losers don’t recognize his contributions. Not a reason to commit a crime.

Another point: judging by material on the trial-documentation site linked by Quixote, the Manhattan DA’s position at the trial was largely based on the contents of a letter by Schiffman concerning Norman Golb, which became a public document at the trial. Norman Golb publicly responded to the letter shortly after the trial. Schiffman left NYU around six weeks later. See links to the letters at:

Stephen Goranson wrote:”Philo and Josephus wrote that there were more than 4000 Essenes” and that the Scrolls describe them as “observers of Torah.”

Essenes were edited interpolations in Philo and the writings attributed to Josephus. Essenes were the prophets who were deliberately edited out of history by Flavian writers. The prophets were almost annihilated defending the temple when Titus stripped it of all its gold. The rest (800 or so) were transported for Vespasian’s misclaimed triumph. Philo wrote (according to the Christian writer Eusebius) in 11.1 – “But our lawgiver (Moses) trained an innumerable body of his pupils to partake in those things, who are called Essenes, being, as I imagine, honoured with this appellation because of their exceeding holiness.” – not because they kept the law. The Scrolls proclaim the priests as the righteous ones keeping the law. (observers of Torah), but the prophets are unmentionable and seen “as seekers of smooth things” who despise the law.

Why is the author so surprised and outraged that an impersonator is being charged with impersonation? Doesn’t sound like a “a gross miscarriage of justice” to me.

If Raphael was so outraged by Schiffman’s alleged plagerism of his father’s work, why didn’t he pen the email under HIS OWN NAME instead of pretending to be Schiffman? THAT is what the judge is bringing under judgement, not whether there is some sort of academic disagreement or freedom of speech.

It seems that in America, whenever you want to libel or harass someone, you immediately claim that you are just exercising your freedom of speech. As if that’s supposed to make the wrong you committed any better!

    America is a nation under the rule of law (not under the rule, we may hope, of rogue judges). Heavy-duty scholarly plagiarism is clearly a terrible wrong against the scholar plagarized. Impersonation is one longstanding technique for exposing wrongdoing, and is protected by the U.S. Constitution, which, again, is why the Yes Men have never been thrown in jail, despite having infuriated and humiliated a bunch of people.

    Libel is a civil not a criminal matter in America. Instead of apparently running to his friends at the police, Schiffman could have sued Raphael for libel if he really felt the plagiarism charge was false–or as the article indicates, he could have phoned Raphael’s dad to settle the matter (maybe with a mild public apology on his part for “unintentionally creating an impression of plagiarism”).

      And, let us note further, it’s perfectly obvious that the reason S did not phone G is that he saw this as a perfect opening to “get” – not Raphael but G, the Qumranologists’ main opponent – and to do so, as the trial transcript makes clear, working together closely with another, younger academic whose scholarship had been subject to G’s rigorous critique.

      This is not my area as a lawyer, but it appears that we do have criminal defamation laws too. “19 states and 2 territories as of 2005 had criminal defamation laws on the books: Colorado(Colorado Revised Statutes, § 18-13-105), Florida (Florida Statutes, § 836.01-836.11), Georgia, (O.C.G.A. § 16-11-40), Idaho (Idaho Code, § 18-4801-18-4809), Kansas (Kansas Statute Annotated, §21-4004), Louisiana(Louisiana R.S., 14:47), Michigan (Michigan Compiled Laws, § 750.370), Minnesota (Minnesota Statutes. § 609.765), Montana (Montana Code Annotated, § 13-35-234), Nevada (Nevada Revised Statutes §§ 200.510-200.560), New Hampshire (New Hampshire Revised Statute Annotated, § 644:11), New Mexico (New Mexico Statute Annotated, §30-11-1), North Carolina (North Carolina General Statutes, § 14-47), North Dakota (North Dakota Century Code, § 12.1-15-01), Oklahoma (Oklahoma Statutes, tit. 27 §§ 771-781), Utah (Utah Code Annotated, § 76-9-404), Virginia (Virginia Code Annotated, § 18.2-417), Wisconsin (Wisconsin Statutes, § 942.01), Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico Laws, tit. 33, §§ 4101-4104) and Virgin Islands (Virgin Islands Code, Title 14, § 1172).” – the mysterious wiki-oracle

        These laws are all null and void because of a specific Supreme Court ruling (don’t have date available–Martin Garbus argued the case) banning thcriminalization of libel.

          Perhaps more to the point, New York is not on the list. This is what Ronald Kuby argues in his excellent appeal brief: criminal libel was taken off the books in New York following the Ashton decision; it cannot be resuscitated under a contrived, “non-financial-fraud” claim or pretext.

          I think you’re misreading the case. It affects the common law conception of criminal libel as breach of the peace and statutes similarly drawn (holding them to be unconstitutional where the prosecution depends upon “breach of the peace” provisions, because of vagueness, over breadth, etc.). So while many of these statutes *may* be unconstitutional (if they are similarly drawn as the Kentucky statute) I don’t think we automatically know that without looking at the wording in each instance. I glanced at the New Mexico one, for example, and it contains no “breach of the peace” language, so I see no reason why it would be invalidated by Ashton.

          RKevinHill says:

          No, they’re not. There were about 200 criminal libel prosecutions in Virginia alone since 2001, according to Westlaw. You’ve misread the scope of Ashton.

      daized79 says:

      It’s not plagiarism anyway — it’s using a theory and not living credit to those who thought of it first (even if it is obvious to the open-minded). My dad told me it wasn’t the Essenes when I was growing up, but he never mentioned Golb’s name. He could read the published texts for himself. I don’t understand why Schiffman won’t just be the bigger man and admit that Gold was battling idiots for decades before Schiffman came around, but that’s just a disappointment in Schiffman’s personality, not plagiarism.

    duchat says:

    No doubt, penning under a deliberately poor execution of an impersonation of Schiffman was designed to serve a dual purpose: 1. to initially draw enough attention to the matter so that NYU officials might initiate an actual investigation to determine once and for all whether or not Schiffman committed plagiarism and 2. to mock Schiffman via the use of subtle but noticeable underminers of the authenticity of the email.

    There is no evidence that Golb really intended for anyone to actually believe (for longer than a second, perhaps, as with any good parody) that the email was really from Schiffman.

    From what I’ve read of the trial transcripts, there was never a serious belief among NYU officials that Schiffman was, in fact, the author of this email, hence supporting R. Golb’s stated intent.

    The reality is that had R. Golb written to NYU to ask them to investigate Schiffman he would have not been taken seriously, and no investigation would have taken place. Apparently, this was an attempt born out of frustration on R. Golb’s part to get NYU to pay enough attention to the matter in order to determine honestly and fairly whether or not Schiffman was guilty of plagiarism.

      DSarna says:

      The factual incorrectness of your assertions was amply demonstrated by the NYU witnesses who testified at trial.

        For some rather embarrassing excerpts from the testimony of NYU witnesses, see:

        For some other information which unfortunately may also be relevant, see:

          DSarna says:

          I am sure that smearing me will only serve to prove that you recklessly disregard facts, are biased, and have no interest in either truth or justice. Thanks for outing yourself.

          How exactly have I smeared you? If the facts need explaining, please explain them.

          daized79 says:

          That’s just naive. If you are in the position of being charged with crimes, pleading guilty is often the best recourse even when you are not. The power of the government and the uncertainty of the jury are frightening things. And I’m a prosecutor.

          duchat says:

          Ooh, it appears that our esteemed Mr. Sarna is an ex-con, who plead guilty in 2006 to securities fraud, and was sentenced to about a year in the hoosegow. Tsk, tsk…very unfortunate that this man would call a factual disclosure based on court documents of his criminal past “smearing.” I always thought that was a pejorative term applied to false allegations, not to the plain truth.

          David, you are perhaps hitting Mr. Sarna under the belt. We’ve all done things in life we may not be so happy about. I’ve heard that Mr. Sarna was Lawrence Schiffman’s roommate in college, and if they have remained close, it’s perfectly understandable he’d do his best to defend the man against the accusations of plagiarism, rank opportunism, and so forth.

          I didn’t know this man was Schiffman’s roommate, but I’m not surprised to learn of his association with a former NYU department chairman who “insisted that he suffered no harm; ‘the opposite, I got a big raise out of it.’” I don’t like hypocrisy. The real question here is why prosecutors have spent so many taxpayers’ dollars persecuting Raphael Golb, when the vast majority of the financiers of Wall Street have not even been investigated for their alleged crimes.

          I absolutely agree. Prosecutors make decisions ALL THE TIME re: who they should bring charges against. To bring charges in this case, the time, taxpayer dollars, etc., & then this Judge who acts like this is the worst crime she’s ever seen – c’mon. Plus – Schiffman DID have another route – civil court. Its not like he abused masses of children, and the kids wouldn’t even sue him for decades, or something. Enough is enough.

          daized79 says:

          This isn’t a civil case — there’s no financial harm in the end. It’s a criminal case. Just the sentence should be probation, not jail time, but that’s this judge’s fault (and perhaps the prosecutor’s).

          DSarna says:

          Dear Dr. Golb, sock puppets, and Tablet Readers:

          As you know, I never met you except when I sat as a spectator at your trial. I am not a scholar and have no dog in the hunt to determine the origins of the Dead Sea Scrolls, a subject on which I have never opined.

          Yes, I was Prof. Schifman’s college apartment-mate, and I am proud to number him among my friends since1967.

          Yes, you did Google my name and you discovered that in 2005 I sold $25,000 of free-trading securities of a stock I had invested in in a market sale through a well-known broker-dealer.The transaction had been orchestrated by the government. I had paid a facilitation fee to my subtenant (who needed money and whom I carried rent-free for six months). The government admitted in open court that there were “no known victims.” I was arrested and charged with a single count of securities fraud, and promptly pleaded guilty, on the advice of counsel. The SEC issued no fine and also no bars whatsoever, not for trading, or for acting as an officer or director of a public company.

          Yeats later, you found it useful (why I don’t know) to publicize this incident in Tablet and in other forums over the past few years, using multiple aliases.

          Since my plea, I wrote three books, all published by well-known publishers, numerous articles, including contributions to Tablet, and for the last two years have been trying to build a high-tech company that I co-founded.

          Dr. Golb, as an attorney, you undoubtedly know yourself or were advised by counsel, that the vast bulk of criminal convictions are sustained on appeal. I am sure you have considered the possibility that the appellate court may sustain some or all of the 38 charges against you, where you were convicted after a jury trial. You might in the future find that you want to rebuild your own life. Peer seven years into the future and ask yourself if you will then want someone to orchestrate a campaign against you relating to events of 2010.

          As Hillel the Elder (c.110 BCE -10 CE) said, “that which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn” (B. Talmud, Shabbat 31a).

          Since David Sarna self-avowedly is not a scholar and has “no dog to hunt” when it comes to DSS origins, it would appear he’s not in a position to really judge if the plagiarism accusations leveled at Lawrence Schiffman, and the connected institutional issues informing the Raphael Golb Internet campaign, are justified or not. He may not care. He may believe what he’s told. It seems, then, that his entering the fray in the first place reflects a combination of friendship – in general a noble quality, but it sometimes needs to be combined with a sense of the bigger picture – and indifference or ignorance.

          DSarna says:

          Mr. Siegel, With all due respect, you created out of whole cloth a clay Indian to knock down. I never in my life said one word in respect to allegations related to the scholarly merits of the respective contributions of Prof. Schiffman and Prof. Golb in the DSS controversy. Not who said what. Not who said what first. Not who credited whom. Nada. Nothing. I only provided links to the government’s case which the sock puppets ostensibly providing fair and balanced documentary history failed to do, and I stated that that some of the allegations made on this comments section belie credible testimony at trial. Both true points. As the author of History of Greed, I do know a little about fraud and misrepresentation. The Talmud says, “Kol haposel, bemumo hu posel” He who finds faults in others is influenced by the blemish in himself, (B. Tal. Ḳid. 70b). I think you need to take this advice to heart, look inward, and turn down the invective by at least 90 decibels to below 10 decibels.

          It would be necessary to specify WHICH allegations–whether the claim is “true” or not could then be critically examined and fairly discussed with recourse to the trial transcript etc. Otherwise what was “stated” simply amounts to innuendo, and the above comment, particularly in light of its Talmudic conclusion, emerges as falsely ingenuous. Curiously, the double evocation of a vetting of these comments by an “attorney” has been omitted from the list. But the purpose of such an evocation is transparent and does seem to suggest, again, a certain quite non-Talmudic fondness for the police. To repeat, one of the central issues addressed in both the article and comments is public access to information, and efforts to suppress that access.

          daized79 says:

          Dude, Sarna didn’t say anything about the trial or the charges. What are you smoking?

          “The words men fear most are those that uncover them; yet it is not for injustice to complain of indecorum, or malice of indiscretion.”

          Let us all seek to be accurate and balanced in our statements concerning this moment of history that we are witnessing. Documentation of the Raphael Golb trial and appeal, including the government’s response brief, trial transcripts, and all of the other material referred to in this debate, is available at:

          The documentation appears to be extraordinarily complete, or at least virtually so: I do not see, for example, a transcript of the indictment session at which the government reportedly requested that the case be assigned to Judge Carol Berkman, in violation of the court rules requiring random selection of judges in criminal cases; nor do I see the jury selection proceedings, at which Judge Carol Berkman reportedly began to block any statements of counsel concerning parody. It is to be hoped each and every relevant transcript will ultimately become available for public scrutiny.

        duchat says:

        From the Prosecution’s brief, pg. 25:
        “The deans believed Schiffman, and they found the plagiarism allegation not very “credible.””

        Thus, even by the Prosecution’s own admission, the very brief inquiry, which was apparently conducted only as a required formality, was ended right after the first meeting with Prof. Schiffman, simply because there was nothing from Golb’s emails that made them believe they were genuinely from Prof. Schiffman.

    would the author be kind enough to reappear briefly and correct her misspelling of “plagiarism”?–it hurts looking at it. Many thanks.

    Judge Richard Posner in The Little Book of Plagiarism: “Some types of plagiarism merit ostracism, ridicule, and cancellation of contracts….”

Apart and aside from the fake Schiffman plagiarism self-accusation: if we look at what he wrote, Raphael Golb’s internet campaign was focused on letting the general public know about, precisely, the tacit (and grudging) paradigm shift in Dead Sea Scroll studies referred to in this article. The Israel Museum has been trying to cover up the scholarly developments through an aggressively marketed and lucrative series of outsourced museum exhibits, which is why Raphael Golb picked up that money/knowledge-control trail, in the process “annoying” a lot of influential people. (The one major institution that defied the IM and presented an objective Scrolls exhibit was the Jewish Museum New York.)

What led to this grudging paradigm shift? The weight of the evidence Norman Golb laid out in his book and articles, and which was then supported by an official Israel Antiquities Authority archaeological team after ten years’ study of the Qumran site. (Its findings have naturally basically been ignored in most of the exhibits.) Here we need to correct the article a bit: Schiffman’s uncredited appropriation of Golb’s ideas didn’t contribute to the paradigm shift–his arguments were too confusing and self-contradictory. As said, Norman Golb has not been forgiven by the “Qumranologists” for either opening the Scrolls to scholarly access or for showing, rationally and systematically, that “the emperor has no clothes.”

Batya Ungar-Sargon says:

My name is Batya Ungar-Sargon and I just want to admit that I am an alcoholic and I wrote this article while I was completely drunk and out of my mind.

    Identity theft, identity theft! let’s get an IP address, have the author of the above fake-defamatory confession arrested, convince a jury of the author’s s nefarious nature (we can even contrive a sequence of possibilities suggesting this was done with the intent of earning a thousand dollars–the minimum needed for felony identity theft charges, just like in the Raphael Golb trial!), and have him/her put in jail!

    To be clear: a commenter has taken the name of the author for a
    clever impersonation. The author of the article did not write this.

Ted_Fontenot says:

Golb should be administered a Malaysian caning.

    In Malaysia, that would likely be his fate for exposing a well-connected charlatan to public ridicule. But we live in the land of the free, where rogue judges may be put in their place (at least if their victims can afford it)!

Thanks for this article, I find the Dead Sea scrolls fascinating and would love to hear more. Sending a defamatory e-mail impersonating someone, regardless of cause, seems like something a Harvard graduate should know to avoid.

    The e-mail wasn’t defamatory, since the plagiarism charges appear well-grounded (as the article indicates, they were already directly levelled by Avi Katzman in Haaretz a long time ago and have remained unanswered since). The proper response to perceived defamation is a civil lawsuit, not running to the police. Exposing wrongdoing through impersonation and mockery is a longstanding and constitutionally protected activity. What hovers behind the sort of discomfit expressed above is, I think, a feeling that scholarly plagiarism – taking credit for another’s ideas, in this case combined, it seems, with intentionally circulating misleading descriptions of a victim’s pioneering theory, in order to mask the theft – really isn’t all that bad.

      Making it appear that someone admits to plagiarism in a fake e-mail is clearly either defamatory or criminal, unless it is very clear that the e-mail is a fake. Even if the accusation has some basis, by making it appear to be a confession it becomes defamatory, because the gentleman involves does not admit to plagiarism.
      Calling him a plagiarist may be overstating his offence just as turning to the FBI over a fake e-mail may be over stating the crime involved.

        “Very clear”? No, that’s not the law. First, it’s not a crime, because
        you would have to show some kind of tangible benefit or harm. Second, it’s probably not even defamation, because what matters is the content of the confession, not the “making it seem” or “pretending to be” package or form which is protected expressive speech. As indicated in another exchange here, many parodies are not clear at all; putting an accusation in the form of a confession is exactly what’s involved in satirical speech. It should also be pointed out that since the recipients of the emails knew the individual in question, they cannot reasonably have been expected to believe he would crudely accuse himself of plagiarism in arrogant “Gmail confessions” sent to them.

Robert says:

The author has Chicago roots, so her viewpoint on Golb is no surprise. See:

    How convincing.

      Bob Carwash says:


      Please help. I am the bailbondsman for Tina Fey, currently in a Hollyweird jail in the Sarah Palin impersonation trial. Tina is accused of having materially changed dozens of electoral college votes by voters who sincerely believed that they were hearing the wisdom of Sarah Palin, and changed their vote accordingly.

      Ironically, both sides in the election joined together in prosecuting Tina for vote fraud, since many felt she was a double, deliberately sent to be an improvement on Palin, a case of criminal impersonation by the Republicans who were desperate try to win the election.

      Would you please materially benefit Tina by sending me your bail contributions ! I’m always looking for the easy way to cash in. My full time employer Lindsay has already contributed $10g from Alcatraz and will send you a flower for each contribution.


      Money-Huckster “Bob” Fishgill Carwash,
      bailbondsmen to the stars

        Cool. But just to bring the point home, once unmistakable striving for cold cash is a deception’s goal (as opposed to exposing and embarrassing miscreants or, say, feeling happy), we’re indeed in the realm of criminal law, dude.

          Steven Avery says:


          Yes, I am well aware, if you are like the lower court judge you might consider my post an “unmistakable striving..” blah blah, rather than a limited, but pointed, satire. Eyes of beholders.

          And there was nothing of that involved with Raphael. I was just having a little fun in the sun, now I am waiting for the Schiffman-Cargill gendarmes to come knocking.

          btw, I was on the forums when Raphael was sock-puppetting ( my email was ) and it was curious and a tad annoying, but it is trivial for any forum to handle that by moderating the initial posts of new members.

          Similarly if anybody in the world was actually materially concerned that Schiffman may have actually sent out the email, it could have been handled in a fifteen minute blog post, or its equivalent at the time: (“somebody who does not like me sent out an email in my name .. blah blah”). End of story.

          And yes, ultimately Raphael and even Norman may have been embarrassed by the episode in some scholarly circles, those would have been the repercussions. And/or some of the issues may have been hashed out more. Both sides could get their basket.

          That this case ever was even remotely a felony prosecution is a chilling indictment of Schiffman, Cargill, and others in that clique, and the Morgenthau (at the time) prosecutors office.

          One of the judges last week was really kewl in putting the prosecutor on the spot. My sense is that the prosecutor was not dumb, and really did not want to be there, to see his name attached to an infamous case. (Uhh.. judge, we’re here, so I must have a case.) Hopefully, we will see not just a partial change (e.g. dropping the felony conviction) but a ringing reversal by the Appellate.

          btw, while I am interested in the DSS issues, I take no sides. If you want my views, ask me about the Received Text versus the Hortian text in the NT, or the Masoretic-LXX issues. As to the plagiarism questions, DSS-Essene, museum representations, scholarship problems…

          … those are not the real issues here, imo, it is prosecutorial misconduct, and scholars looking for protectia and maybe a payday. (For those who can read between the lines of my last post.)

          Even Ron Kuby gets a shout out on this one, even if it puts him over into the 1%. He actually seems like a good speaker, with a sharp mind. He could go into law when he grows up :) .

          Steven Avery
          Bayside, NY

          thanks, Mr. Avery–sharp insight

          Thanks, Mr. Avery, sharp insight. Of course we can’t know, but it’s hard to see how those absurd, “hooliiganism” type harassment charges can stand if the felony conviction goes. The thing would seem to crumble legally like a house of cards, esp. since the DA insisted on closely linking the two things in their reply brief. We shall see.

Anyone represented by Ron Kuby is presumed guilty, and should be punished to whatever extent is possible.

DSarna says:

The government’s response nto Dr. Golb’s appeal is available at

In respect to comment of David Sarna below and his earlier contributions to this debate, plus the responses to them: it seems to me that Sarna’s personal biography in the end shouldn’t matter: that we should generally refrain from trying to discredit the arguments unfolding here on personal grounds and simply focus on what is being said. In this case–it shouldn’t matter whether Mr. Sarna is a close friend of Schiffman etc. or the man in the moon, but simply whether or not his comments have substance.

    That being said, I have a suggestion, folks: that for this debate not to deteriorate, we do our best not to take swipes at each other and question each other’s integrity, but rather to focus on the salient issues in a positive manner.

    For instance, in line with the plagiarism question raised in Batya’s article, we could take a real look, a close one, at the book of Schiffman in question and other relevant texts of his, and at Norman Golb’s pioneering article in the “Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society” (1980) to see whether Avi Katzmann’s charges of major plagiarism, and then Raphael Golb’s, were in fact well-grounded.

    Again, having the trial transcript, we could look closely at the nature and quality of the judge’s rulings in the trial and discuss them (for instance, her forbidding the defense to try to demonstrate the truth of the charges, combined with constant claims by the prosecutor that the charges were false, seems, well, kind of problematic). Can words be criminalized in America? Etc. We could also soberly consider the question of how valid Raphael Golb’s perception is that we have an ongoing major scandal of international scholarship and museum policy, a scandal he wished to expose: active collaboration between the Israel Museum, various American evangelical groups, and the “Qumranologist” network to hide from the public, through aggressively marketed and outsourced museum exhibits and by other means, the paradigm shift that has taken place in Dead Sea Scrolls scholarship. If the perception is well grounded, what are the possible complex religious and financial motives behind such an institutional effort? And so forth.

AB Michel says:

This is a poorly researched article and carries much of the same hateful tones as the impersonator. The Essene theory is presented in museum exhibits, not because of anti-Semitists advancing a view for monetary gain, but because it has been researched by hundreds of scholars in the past 60+ years and is by far the most probable. It is notable that the Essene theory was likely first introduced by Yigael Yadin, who is in fact Jewish, thus there is no Christian suppression of other “more Jewish” views. Schiffman himself is Jewish and, although his Sadducean theory is also not widely supported, is much respected in the scholarly world. It is unfortunate that the Scrolls’ main contribution to public knowledge is such unfortunate events as this.

    See my new comments below. Paradigms sometimes collapse after 50 or 60 years, tacitly or otherwise, causing exactly these sorts of sometimes very nasty episodes when institutional networks feel threatened (read Kuhn). The shift in thinking is ongoing, and Golb, like it or not, is behind it–only hacks really try to still claim thousands of Essene monks wrote scrolls in a desert “scriptorium,” and if they didn’t, where did these literary copies logically come from? And what are the real contents of these texts? The driving force behind the “Essene” fantasy was Father Devaux, a Catholic anti-semite and amateur archaeologist who assembled a team of believing gentiles to work on the site his way. So now the real debate begins–as said, let’s keep it civilized, focus on the ideas, and avoid “everyone knows”/”sixty years” arguments–they have no substance.

      AB Michel says:

      It is not as if the Essene Hypothesis is some stagnant view held only by outdated hacks. It has been constantly evolving and after 60 years is still the dominant view, though has been much changed. The change in the debate has not been caused by Golb, arguing outlandish and unlikely scenarios, but rather by scholars who have devoted their lives to research on the texts and trying to understand their relation to the caves and the site. Anyone who has visited Qumran would relinquish the idea of the scrolls being entirely unrelated to the community living there. The Essene theory is still admittedly a theory but one that has stood the test of time and substantial scholarly inquiry.

        Well, here we are with the “hateful” personal swipes. No serious scholar of ancient history would refer to Golb’s meticulously argued views, as presented in the “Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society,” the Cambridge History of Judaism, Les Annales, and other such publications – and emphaticaly not in journals of “Qumranology” – as “outlandish” and “unlikely”. Which, for instance, is more likely – that the Scrolls were written by thousands of Essene scribes in some desert scriptorium, or that they were precious documents brought from various Jerusalem collections to the desert for safekeeping, along with other precious things, in the period when the Romans were about to sack the city, hence offering us a view of the fractured state of Judaism in the intertestamental period? From a basic, commonsense view, which scenario is more likely? (The latter theory is of course Norman Golb’s.)

          duchat says:

          I’m reminded of the words of Groucho Marx, “I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as one of its members.”

          If I were Norman Golb, and given that he has support for his theories from a number of respectable organizations, I wouldn’t even bother trying to become accepted by the Qumranologists or any of the organizations that choose to limit their focus to the work of a single theory. Life is just too short.

          Apparently since playing a central role in freeing the Scrolls he has been openly blackballed at international Scrolls conferences (still largely controlled by the “Qumranologists”). And there has to be an expectation of balance in museum exhibits – despite the lucrative exhibit-fees they’re promised by simply towing the “official” Israel Museum line. There are specific, codified standards in that respect, which have been brazenly violated by the (mainy second-tier) museums involved.

          duchat says:

          You’ve kinda hit on something, Richard, when you suggest that standards have been violated by the “mainly second-tier” museums. My point, exactly. But in any event, my experience has taught me that some people/organizations are just not worth breaking a sweat over, even if the principle bugs ya.

          well, yes and no, because it’s a question of the public’s right to information. The Scrolls exhibits at those second-tier museums have drawn millions of visitors. In that sense, the Raphael Golb case is part of a larger ongoing struggle. This chapter of the narrative actually has richly comic aspects, to which those who hate Golb senior and junior are blind. (To again paraphrase Rushdi: beware of humorless thin-skinned rats.) We’ve all been reading about another, truly tragic chapter in that struggle.

          The ethical code of the London-based Museums Association is quoted in the footnote on p. 23 of Raphael Golb’s account of his trial, at:

          I accept that the Scrolls were from Jerusalem. My question is HOW fractured were the views represented by these manuscripts? They were using what was in effect the Septuagint, yet they chose to downgrade or misuse the prophetic parts with their pesher interpretations which were used of the “seekers of smooth things” in a highly malicious manner. We appear to be talking about, not a multifaceted Judaism, but a Judaism divided between two main parties, with the priests being one of them.

      yakketiyak says:

      just like all religious mumbo jumbo : )

    The guest author of the “poorly researched” comment inaccurately suggests that the Essene theory was “first introduced by Yigael Yadin.” It was introduced, on the basis of the seven initially discovered scrolls, by Eliezer Sukenik, who was Yadin’s father. Yadin, an Israeli military hero, later defended his father’s view. All of this is documented in detail in Golb’s book, Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scroll, with which the author of the “poorly researched” comment may be unfamiliar.
    As for Schiffman’s theory, one noted British scholar has called it “not only difficult to accept, but difficult to understand.” Golb’s book contains a detailed discussion exposing the self-contradictory and fallacious nature of Schiffman’s version of the “sectarian” theory. As such, the theory has been systematically refuted by Golb. Rather than offer a reasoned defense of his claims, Schiffman has simply chosen to ignore Golb’s critique and, apparently, to smear Golb in secret correspondence delivered to colleagues of his at NYU, as discussed in Golb’s article on the topic at:

J Sigman says:

What I’d like to know is how many of those commenting on this article are Golb family members. Seems like they’re up to their old tricks again.
And this article is fairly disgusting. Ms. Ungar-Sargon’s last foray into public opinion writing was to defend a pedophile in the pages of the Forward; seems like she likes convicted men, the more twisted the better.

    Actually I, for one, am neither a Golb or Schiffman-Sarna family member, but what I do and where I work is none of your business, Mr. Sigman (whether or not that’s your real name): there’s a reason anonymity has been singled for protection by the Supreme Court. Focus on the issues being addressed, argue with them if you disagree so readers can judge your ideas and those you disgree with, and not on trying to discredit what is being said through sweeping ad hominems (you really do seem to hate Norman and Raphael Golb – you must be a “Qumranologist”). Your strategy is the resort of the week and angry – the thin-skinned rats.

      J Sigman says:

      Haha. Considering the number of postings you have here, thin-skinned isn’t an insult I’d throw around, Mr. or Ms. Golb.
      Do you do anything for a living? Seems you have a lot of time on your hands.

    Ms. Ungar-Sargon had the courage to present both sides of the story and to cite the allegations of plagiarism brought by the respected Israeli journalist, Avi Katzman, against former NYU Jewish Studies department chairman Lawrence Schiffman, who had the privilege of receiving a “big raise” as a result of the allegations, which were apparently suppressed at NYU and have yet to be examined by an appropriate academic committee.

    duchat says:

    I can assure you that I am not a Golb family member, and I only became aware of this case in the first instance after reading a press account of R. Golb’s trial.

What an amusing piece of reporting. Raphael Golb is “brilliant!” How does the reporter know? Because Raphael’s own dad said so! Great reporting!! Actually, the entire piece reads as if Raphael wrote it and papa Golb checked it for accuracy.

The morning the police picked up Raphael, they interviewed him and recorded it. It is amazing to watch Raphael lie, prevaricate and then lie some more. It’s obvious the interviewer and the others in the room know something, but Raphael just goes on and on, oblivious and fooling nobody. It’s like watching a sketch on Saturday Night Live.

Brilliance is not indicated when a 50 year old man is interviewed by a detective and thinks he’s smarter than everyone in the room. That’s “brilliance” only a dad could love.

In that video Raphael never mentions parody so I have been wondering if that idea came later amid discussions in the confines of Ron Kuby’s offices? Here’s the scenario as I imagine it…

“What are we going to do, Mr. Kuby? I don’t want to go to prison after years of maliciously harassing people and trying to destroy their lives only because I forgot to capitalize a p when I stole Schiffman’s identity.”

“Don’t worry, Raphy, I’ve defended so-called “terrorists” who are no less brilliant than you and we like to use the old “parody defense” in combination with the “late-riser” adjustment.

“Mr. Kuby…good one! You may actually be half as brilliant as me and a third as brilliant as my dad. What is the parody defense? Though I think I know what you mean by late riser, nudge nudge.”

(weary sigh) “No Raphael, the late riser defense is when we blame your brilliantly stupid lies to the police on being really tired that morning because you were busy writing malicious stuff on the internet until late the night before. I’m positive the simple-minded jurors will buy it, and if they don’t we can always blame the judge on appeal and tell impressionable reporters afterwards that the judge stinks and the jurors were misled.”

“Ooh, you really are too clever by half, Mr. Kuby. So what’s the “parody” defense? Is that when we parody the reactions of my victims by saying they should have written back serious responses under their real names even though I was writing vile, harassing and career-injuring lies anonymously using multiple pseudonyms?”

(patiently, slowly) “No. That’s when we try to cover up your incredibly stupid and ugly crimes, including stealing someone else’s identity and trying to damage their professional standing so as to advance your father’s reputation and prospects, by claiming you were just having nasty fun because you were angry.”

“Holy Frank Moore Cross on a stick, maybe you are…half as smart as my dad!”

“I can only dream, Raphael.”

“Well, my dad is more brilliant and more attractive than Schiffman and he deserves the accolades Schiffman has been getting all these years.”

(rolling his eyes) “Yes, yes, Raphy, we know. But you do understand it’s a little hard to sell your case of trying to protect your father if you keep bragging about your dad’s accomplishments and career achievements. We need to show harm to his career even if he is a senior professor at an amazing university who gives talks all over the world, has received a medal from the people of Rouen and plays impressionable reporters looking for the conspiracy angle like Mick Jagger handles groupies.”

“Mick Jagger wishes he were my dad.”

(Ron puts his face in his hands and rubs his tired eyes. He adjusts his cuckoo and reminds himself this is a shampoo night) “Raphael, this is serious. You could go to jail.”

“I was being serious.”

“Let’s try again, slowly. What were you doing when you sent an email signing his own name from an account bearing his own name to Schiffman’s students, colleagues and superiors claiming admission that he’s a plagiarist, perhaps the worst offense in academia?”

(Raphael’s eyes are a bit murky at first. The gears are churning hard. He recalls his halcyon days at Harvard, even if getting dates was a little tough. Ron waits patiently, fingering his long, shiny hair. The minutes pass. Suddenly, miraculously, Raphy’s eyes light up. Kazaam!)

“I know! Because it was a parody!”

(Ron taps Raphael’s head gently) “Excellent, Raphy, really excellent. You’ll do just fine at trial.”


Dear Ms. Ungar-Sargon, it’s unlikely that even the Golbs, who are virtually the only people who assert that Schiffman plagiarized Golb, truly believe their own claim. The only reason one would “explore” this “plagiarism” is that other than the ridiculous “parody” assertion, this is the only way for Golb to deflect attention away from the crime. This isn’t about first amendment or Schiffman or anything that complicated. Raphael pretended to be Schiffman and used Schiffman’s name to attack him. That’s identity theft.

Here are the facts that have been acknowledged by Raphael Golb

-Raphael brazenly lied to the police

-Raphael concocted dozens of pseudonyms, sometimes borrowing other people’s online identities

-Raphael attacked others with malice

-Raphael had no reservation contacting people using false identities, in at least one case using a victim’s own identity, strongly proposing ideas that would destroy or harm their careers

You’re a reporter. Do you see a pattern? There is nothing here which suggests he’s a brilliant, charming rogue, much less a nice, naive guy, who was merely trying to do the right thing by his poor, downtrodden father.

The pattern you see is of a man old enough to have kids in college himself, son to a very successful scholar, who plans and executes gross distortions and malicious dishonesty using sophisticated technology and methods so as to undermine other scholars. He would have gotten away with more had he not been caught breaking a law by stealing someone’s identity. He did violate the law, however, and deflecting attention with “plagiarism,” multiple new online identities, blogs and such is not a defense.

As for motive, the facts again shed a bright light. There are two more indisputable facts. One, Norman Golb has had a successful career. Two, there is one area where his recognition has lagged others, his work on Dead Sea Scrolls. He has received some recognition, but others have received more. He has also, according to his book and other articles, apparently antagonized others in the field by attacking other scholars and their theories. Ring a bell?

It appears that at least the three of the four Golb family members who are known to have participated in Raphael’s activities wished to change the reality of Norman Golb’s Dead Sea Scrolls reputation so that he would receive more recognition for that work. One of the trolls in this discussion even mentions the “lucrative” speaking engagements others were unfairly enjoying.

This makes sense, since the Dead Sea Scrolls are much more popular than work on the Jews of Rouen or manuscripts from other sources. You can liken it to being a family member of a gold-winning athlete who is resentful that other gold-winning athletes get to be on the Wheaties box or other sponsorship opportunities because they chose a more popular sport. Raphael has admitted he wanted more positive attention for Norman. The reason appears to be the good things that would follow, like having his work acknowledged by more scholars, museums and a greater number of speaking engagements. It’s hard to argue (though they are trying) that once you undress those goals they reveal anything other than a raw desire for more recognition and greater financial gain driven by a belief that it’s a zero sum game where increased opportunity had to come at the expense of others.

In other words, the identity theft crime was motivated by a plain old desire for gain. Nothing new here, even if the convicted party is “brilliant.”

    This diatribe hardly merits a response, apart from noting
    the hatred that appears to inform it. Raphael Golb has never admitting
    acting out of “malice” — a ludicrous idea presupposing that his complaints
    were illegitimate; and the Golbs are hardly the only ones who believe LS
    committed plagiarism.

      You see, Batya, this is why it’s ridiculous to call Raphael “brilliant.” He gave the game away, as expected, without a whimper.

      Both Richard and Duchat’s sole concern with my comment is malice. A Raphael character once wrote that he wasn’t committing libel because Schiffman’s a public figure. Proving libel with “public” people requires proving malice. Guess Raphael’s greatest priority now that he’s no longer anonymous and the criminal trial is behind him? Avoiding a costly libel lawsuit.

      Richard, I can’t fully describe the debilitating agony I feel having you attack my little play, especially since you’re both fictional. I’m crushed. As for hatred? You’re projecting. I didn’t waste years writing attack letters, blogs, and comments about scholars with my only achievement being the destruction of my family’s reputation and the possibility of prison.

      I will agree that other than the Golbs, many characters all over the internet support the plagiarism accusation against Schiffman, but since they’re Raphael’s fictional creations they don’t count. Besides, they know what will happen if they don’t support Norman: libelous ugly blogs, nasty letters to their faculty or…being erased. Most non-fictitious people with real bodies and minds, however, correctly believe Schiffman is the victim of a malicious attack that used “plagiarism” cynically.

      Which brings us to admission of malice.

      Published email records of some conversations between Raphael and his mother, Ruth, reveal Raphael’s great desire to have Norman Golb receive a speaking engagement at the New York Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition. They conspire to attack Schiffman in some way. The idea being, I guess, that if someone of Schiffman’s reputation and stature “plagiarized” Norman Golb, then Norman’s credit and importance in the field will rise considerably and he would receive opportunities that Schiffman and others are getting instead.

      On July 30, 2008, at 6:18pm, Raphael Golb wrote to Ruth Golb:
      “I just spoke with Dan R; I could tell that basically he didn’t have the courage to ask Braunstein to invite Dad…”

      Raphael is concerned that Norman won’t get an invitation to speak at the New York exhibition, an important venue because it’s New York.

      Same night, at 9:04pm, Ruth wrote to Raphael:
      “Now, if Dad is to use the Schiffman thing, he needs the exact quote of Schiffman’s”

      Ruth is speaking about her husband, Norman. A couple of hours have passed and there appears to be a plan in the works with Schiffman as a target. I’ll bet there was a phone conversation from New York to Chicago between those two emails. A couple of days later the email from the fake “Larry Schiffman” is sent by Raphael to Schiffman’s students, in violation of identity theft law. The subject line is “Plagiarism charges.”

      “From: larry schiffman <
      Date: Aug 4, 2008 10:08 PM
      Subject: plagiarism charges”

      This line of attack reveals the plan, to weaken Schiffman in a manner that makes his scholarship seem inferior to the man who still needs a speaking engagement in New York, Norman Golb.

      Then, on Mon, Aug 11, 2008 Ruth writes to Raphael :
      “…I think you’re on to something here. Schiffman is such a sleaze and behaves as though he has nothing to fear… Love, Mom”

      A very loving email. The Golbs feel their attack is having an effect. Things are moving. By the way, do others agree that Ruth’s name-calling (speaking of hatred) is setting a very poor example for her middle aged son. What type of education is he getting at home?

      Where’s the malice? Well, the timing is odd. The Golbs had many years to accuse Schiffman of plagiarism but they conspire and launch their attack when they are most concerned about Norman speaking in New York. This proves the attack is opportunistic. The smoking gun, however, is offered in an email Raphael sends his brother days later. On September 17, 2008, 12:55pm, Joel Golb updated Raphael by email:
      “there has been a new comment added to the Now Public site….”

      Raphael responds to Joel:
      “which article, the plagiarism thing? let them fight it out, whether someone plagiarized dad isn’t my concern, i am focused on the institutional problem.”

      “Whether someone plagiarized dad isn’t my concern.” I thought that was Raphael’s primary concern, so profound that he had to steal Schiffman’s identity and urgently inform his colleagues, superiors and students about the plagiarism while conducting rampant attacks on numerous sites and blogs with multiple invented characters.

      It turns out, however, that in private Raphael acknowledges plagiarism doesn’t even concern him! He is only concerned with the “institutional problem.” By this, he means that he needs to open doors for “dad” at the New York exhibition and maybe other museums. Raphael doesn’t care about Schiffman as a plagiarist, he acknowledges it’s a means to solving the institutional problem which would lead to a prestigious paying gig, an opportunity to market Norman Golb some more, probably get him more speaking engagements, sell some of his books and grow his public reputation. Ironically, this goes a long way to proving that the identity theft charge is valid because there was gain. Norman Golb did end up with a speaking engagement and Raphael touted it for months. But we’re focusing on malice right now.

      Raphael’s admission that he is not concerned in the least about plagiarism proves that he was cynically and knowingly driven by a desire to harm “the sleaze” so as to facilitate the “institutional thing.” This is an admission of malice. The dictionary definition. It so happens that I was using the dictionary definition, but hoped Raphael would read it as a lawyer. He didn’t disappoint.

      Legal malice is defined as “knowledge that the information was false” or that it was published “with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.” This is why both Richard and Duchat jumped to excuse Raphael from malice by pointing out that he is utterly convinced Schiffman is a plagiarist. To admit anything else would indicate transgressing the legal definition of malice and possibly invite a libel lawsuit. Raphael must avoid admitting this was a cynical ploy to advance his father’s career at Schiffman’s expense.

      But never mind about malice. I loved the semi-colon and the double dash in Richard’s comment. How did he happen to pick up some of Raphael’s writing traits, that little devil?

        duchat says:

        One of the best defenses for libel is the truth of the statement. So, if, indeed, Schiffman did plagiarize Golb, then there can be no malice, no libel. So far, you have offered no evidence beyond mere assertion that Schiffman did not plagiarize Golb, as has been alleged, and as Katzman asked Schiffman (apparently, without receiving a proper reply) during an interview conducted long before R. Golb began posting and emailing on the matter.

        Unfortunately, the judge in the Golb case refused to allow any line of questioning that might explore the basis on which the allegation rests, while allowing the prosecution to repeatedly assert that the allegations were false. Doesn’t strike me as particularly fair, though admittedly, this was not conducted as a libel trial, as it, perhaps, ought to have been.

        Perhaps if there is eventually a libel suit against R. Golb, he will be able to present the evidence of plagiarism in court for all to see. Then, a jury can make up its mind whether or not they accept the veracity of the allegations. In the meantime, I believe there is some material online about the matter, though I neither know its whereabouts offhand, nor would I be especially inclined to be the one to direct curious readers to that material.

        As for your reference to R. Golb’s statements expressing his supposed lack of concern about the plagiarism matter, I agree that it seems that it was not his primary concern, as he seems more interested in addressing the wider issue of bias in favor of a single, outdated (in his view) theory of the origin of the Scrolls, one which excludes alternative hypotheses, such as Norman Golb’s. I do not believe that he is, however, entirely unconcerned with the plagiarism issue, merely that it is not his primary concern. His concern about plagiarism seems to be expressed as minimal relative to the larger issues, but it still exists.

        But, I don’t believe his principle concern is whether or not his father gets paid engagements, per se. These might or might not come for him and/or for other non-Qumranologist scholars, were more of these events conducted with greater balance (i.e. as a side effect of a more just dissemination of knowledge). There is no evidence that Raphael Golb was specifically trying to get his father a paid speaking engagement, and in fact, contrary to your assertions, no such New York engagement took place as a result of any of Raphael’s actions.

          Simon’s ad hoc bluster, his wounded anger directed at the Golb family, makes it pretty clear why “Qumranology” is where it is today. The emails he parades could mean, theoretically, what he wants them to mean, or they could simply mean that Prof. Golb’s 80 year old wife felt from her previous acquaintance with Lawrence Schiffman that he is, as she put in a private e-mail, a sleeze, and that she and her son were upset that nothing was being done to end a situation they felt was unjust.

          Judging by their public statements, I wonder what the private e-mail correspondence of this or that “Qumranologist” has to say about Norman Golb.

          Why do you bring up Ruth’s age? Is that an excuse of some sort? Is Norman over the hill because he’s older than Ruth?

          The Golb family emails speak clearly and they’re corroborated by the timeline. Of course you and Ruth imagine the situation was unjust. After all, Raphael was trying to destroy the career of a doctoral student before it even began while his father sat atop one of the most important departments in the field in the world. So it’s a given they would feel victimized in an unjust situation. I have tears welling in my eyes since life has been so cruel to the Golb clan.

          An alternative possibility is that the people in these emails are exactly as mean-spirited and conniving as the dozens of pseudonyms and mean-spirited blogs, emails, letters, comments and trial documents Raphael has put together have been and that their process of advancing Norman Golb’s career is to hurt others and seek to destroy their reputations.

          I will say, though, that having some figment of Raphael’s limited imagination call me crass is more amusing than an article with a headline calling Raphael brilliant. Thanks for the chuckle.

          Is the doctoral candidate perhaps the author of the film-script discussed in this article?:


          No, Richard, nothing Raphael did was legitimate and the only scam is the one he perpetrated.

          Simon didn’t answer my question. If we know who the doctoral candidate was, and whether the above-linked work was indeed subject to Raphael’s critique, then all of us can decide whether the critique was legitimate, or whether it was in some manner unfair. After all, having one’s work even rigorously criticized, and not failing to answer the criticism, but addressing it openly and honestly, is something every grad student is trained to do, wouldn’t Simon agree?

          Simon agrees to inform the troll of the following.

          Simon is not having a conversation or debate with a fictional figment of some Golb family member’s impoverished imagination. Simon is definitely not clicking on a link provided by a Golb family member. Simon reminds Raphael of that morning when he thought he was more clever than the detectives sitting around him and got trounced. Humility is a positive trait.

          Simon reminds Raphael that had he sought legitimate debates, there were countless opportunities over the course of his years of daily nastiness to conduct them. He could have used his real name, Joel could have used his real name and Norman might have thought better of permitting his sons (and wife?) to act as proxies. The Golbs could have conducted these debates respectfully and without seeking to damage and harm people with hideous and cynical attacks.

          Simon adds, don’t insult his intelligence by pulling up some nasty Goranson or Broshi comment as if Simon’s an ignorant reporter who may be strung along with a charming smile. Simon knows the score and what Raphael and Co. did was wage nuclear war on people with unsharpened spears who weren’t even at war.

          Simon also reminds Raphael and Co. their underhanded and ugly activities, some of which were judged by a jury to be criminal, are embellished by this ongoing charade of self-righteousness. This behavior is the immoral coward’s way. You’re not Jean Valjean or Robin Hood, you did really bad things.

          Simon strongly encourages the Golb family to end the posturing and begin to focus on their real problem. It isn’t “plagiarism” or some doctoral student or Simon, it’s that Raphael went too far and eventually stole someone else’s identity, lame capital P or small p excuse notwithstanding. Worse, Raphael did so as part of an obvious plan to gain benefit for his father, Norman Golb, who has admitted he knew about his son’s online war.

          The lack of remorse, absence of humility, refusal to acknowledge the ugliness and pettiness of Raphael’s actions and denial of what is clearly a crime are among the key reasons that Raphael deserves little sympathy or understanding, much less a respectful discussion.

          If being so mean didn’t come naturally to them, Raphael and Co. would have apologized long ago for everything instead of doubling down before, during and after the trial. Simon makes a wild guess that had Raphael done so, this sad outcome would have ended up being far less severe for him and his family. It is not Simon’s wish that anybody go to prison, but Simon informs Raphael that if this is the outcome, he can only blame himself. Even Lance Armstrong understood when it was time to back off from attacking others and come clean.

          Einstein has that famous quote “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Simon prophesies that soon this will be Raphael’s only remaining defense.

          Simon is now finished talking to fictional characters who are stupid enough to try to game the situation while judges determine their fate.

          oh my. the only thing “clear” from above mini-rant is that openly identifying both the specific work that was subject to criticism and the work’s author, is being evaded, in favor of a rant. But why? Can it be that the work was itself incredibly shoddy, its criticism merited? And that the assertion by “Simon” he doesn’t want someone who dared expose yet one more “Qumranological” scam to go to jail is, again, falsely ingenuous? Could it actually be that “Simon” is actually a young, upwardly striving academic who, if the truth be told, colaborated as vigorously as he could with Lawrence Schiffman to try to send the son of Schiffman’s most well-known critic – and, it seems, plagiarism victim – to jail? The son of Schiffman’s most well-known opponent, who himself had previously subjected the same, shoddy yet very heavily marketed work by the young academic to rigorous critique on the Oriental Institute website? We’re in the world of the “house that jack built” here!

          Or maybe: the world of the hole that thin-skinned “Simon” dug……

          J Sigman says:

          I told you not to use the insult “thin-skinned,” Golb. :)

          Scurry, scurry, to Yeshiva

          duchat says:

          Whether or not a given piece of scholarly work “deserves” to be publicly criticized is irrelevant as far as the rights of other scholars or reasonably informed laypersons to criticize are concerned. As long as the criticisms remain professional rather than personal in nature, the arguments pro or con should be permitted to stand or fall on their logical and factual merits. So, if “Simon” objects to criticisms of his (or any other scholar’s) work, he ought to respond by explaining why such criticisms are unwarranted. Simples.

          “That is not and ought not to be called deception which aims at virtuous ends.”

        From the “Dead Sea Scrolls Controversy Motion” linked on the Raphael Golb Trial website:

        In a letter to Norman Golb dated December 24, 2002, Jacob Neusner, the well-known scholar of Judaism who has authored over 900 books, wrote: “I read in today’s NYTimes … that while your basic approach to Qumran now predominates, you were not invited to participate in the [Brown University] conference. The report said you were excluded by people who would not come if you were invited … That is chilling, a disgrace to the scholarly world. [Y]ou raised the fundamental questions and defined the shape of scholarship for generations to come …. The people who excluded you are nourished by your ideas, whether they want to be or not, whether they acknowledge it or not.”

          This is relevant to this discussion somehow? Are you disputing that Norman Golb is a well known researcher who is a senior professor at an important university, who has received many honors in his career, who has many connections in important areas connected to his fields of research, and who knows how to give at least as good as he gets?

          Besides, Neusner seems to have gotten his information from a news article. On the basis of this Tablet article, we may all assume henceforth that any news article where Norman and Raphael have been interviewed will be full of puff, bluster and a slanted point of view an can’t be trusted.

          It’s relevant to the discussion in that, through the citation of an eminent scholar of Jewish thought who’s not a “Qumranologist,” it points to Simon’s comments about the lack of “success” of Norman Golb’s work on the Dead Sea Scroll’s as being myopic. (Simon apparently did not get the point.)

        “I do not think we should condemn those who play tricks upon those who who deserve it.”

    duchat says:

    I’ll just make one point. In order to have malice, one has to knowingly say something false. I believe that Raphael Golb genuinely (whether rightly or wrongly) believes that Lawrence Schiffman plagiarized Norman Golb’s work. I’m not aware of any other allegedly malicious statements by R. Golb being involved in this case.

      “It is impossible to deal fairly with a fool: not only my judgment is corrupted under the hand of so impetuous a master, but my conscience also… Malice itself must be employed to correct this arrogant ignorance.”

    ‘Simon’ wrote: “Two, there is one area where his recognition has lagged others, his work on Dead Sea Scrolls. He has received some recognition, but others have received more.” The question is, ‘Simon’, why has his recognition apparently lagged in some circles? Is it because a number of scholars just can’t bring themselves to accept that the so-called Dead Sea Scrolls (found all over the Judean desert) had their origin in Jerusalem. There was no half-way house, with some produced at Qumran and some at Jerusalem, as proposed by Pfann. According to some scholars the few inkwells found at Qumran must have been used for writing some of the Scrolls, with no other possible purpose!! You see it suits some Christians to believe that the ‘Qumran Scrolls’ were written by an obscure sect at Qumran. And similar considerations apply to the Jewish scholar Schiffman. In your eyes ‘Simon’, Golb may have lagged behind others, in recognition, but in mine and many others, he has been ahead of them, including you, all for a very long time.

    “Simon” seems to have a lot to say about Raphael Golb’s activities, but what about the activities of Dr. Robert Cargill? I see that in a letter dated June 3, 2009, the University of Chicago informed Cargill that his “email messages” to the university concerning Norman Golb were regarded as “threats of nuisance litigation.” This letter is attached as an appendix to a recent article by Prof. Golb:

    Ring a bell, Simon? Apparently, Robert Cargill has been actively engaged in quite an effort to prevent Golb from having a “successful career,” and his work on the Scrolls from obtaining “more recognition.”

Hugh J says:

This nonsense leaves little or no uncertainty as to why people look at lawyers and judges as scum of the earth. Taxpayers pay for the buildings, upkeep and utilities where these knotheads practice and to see our money ‘circling the bowl’ in this manner is disgusting.

    The “earthy” image is unfortunately, totally apt in respect to the trial proceedings that took place here. When looked back on, they’ll be understood as reflecting.a connivance between the DA’s office, a judge condemned, already, for miscarrying justice, and a well-connected local academic (together with a younger sidekick), with millions spent on ludicrous criminal proceedings meant to protect the man’s reputation. Classic “selective justice”, Gotham style. In other words, rank corruption. Duchat himself put it well earlier: “The sheer absurdity of bringing this case to trial in the first instance boggles the mind. As noted attorney, Ron Kuby said, ‘Some people need to get out more.'”

altershmalter says:

It may be that Golb the Younger has sour grapes over not being selected as Schiffman’s replacement at NYU. I’ll bet he was not even in the top 3…ok, top ten!

    No doubt, but the really intriguing question here is whether there is any connection between Schiffman’s’ departure from his prestigious position at NYU, and the Raphael Golb trial. Schiffman’s statement that the only “harm” done to him was a good raise, seems to be an acknowledgment that there was indeed a connection.

M. A. Edward says:

This is what is called a frivolous law suit.

I will say, Golb (the younger) seems very immature. He went to Harvard? Then let him write a scholarly article re: plagiarism, or whatever point it is he wants to make. Schiffman does have a case for defamation, in civil court. What would Golb and his son say then “Oh, no! You’ve done me wrong!” The son should make an apology – by e-mail would be great- apologizing for what he did. I agree this isn’t a case for criminal courts – the Judge is acting like Golb murdered someone. But, then again, how would they feel if another scholar pretended to be Golb, Sr., and did this? I think Golb, the son, needs to get a life. Seems he is far too wrapped up in his dad’s life.

10clark says:

Considering all the claims for “stolen and/or confiscated” paintings that has been lodged by the Holocaust survivor in the millions since 47/48 when the Rothschild and Morgans of this world realized they were “sitting” on a fortune and the stupid Germans paid up without a grumble the Red Sea Scrolls is a clear case of stolen property that has been fenced among the Jewish underworld for decades. When are these scrolls returned to its rightful Owner, the Finder and the Jordanian people. There is not doubt however that it is not the property of Israel or any Israel museum or institution or any Jewish individual.

    duchat says:

    The Jordanians have admitted that they aren’t able to provide the necessary upkeep to preserve them properly.

    Let us be accurate here.

    The crucial felony count, based on the claim that Golb was trying to
    make money, has now been thrown out. Any argument that Golb was in it
    for material, financial gain has now disappeared from this case.

    At the same time, the stakes have become clear: the First Appellate
    Division believes that a fraudulent benefit does not need to be
    material, tangible, or financial. The United States Supreme Court
    rulings to the contrary, discussed at length in the Raphael Golb
    appellate briefs, are simply ignored. The decision also does not mention
    the harassment counts at all, or provide any rationale for upholding
    the “intent to falsify NYU business records” felony count.

    Clearly, Golb’s defense team will now bring the case up to the New
    York Court of Appeals in Albany, and possibly to the federal courts,
    where the legalities of the matter and the background involving the
    plagiarism allegations will undoubtedly get a lot more attention, and
    where many more of the counts could well ultimately end up be chiseled

Quixote2 says:

Some readers may wish to consult the “amicus brief” that the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers has submitted to the appellate court reviewing this case. The brief argues that Raphael Golb’s trial was “unprecedented and inappropriate,” and that it involved criminalizing “online speech with academic value.” Are we meant to take the claim being made here as a humorous gesture, or do these “defense” lawyers really expect to be taken seriously? See the text at:

Quixote2 says:

In a consummate gesture of legal futility, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers has now submitted an “amicus brief” to the appellate court reviewing this case. The brief argues that Raphael Golb’s trial was “unprecedented and inappropriate,” and that it involved criminalizing “online speech with academic value.” Are we perhaps meant to take the claim being made here with a “grain of salt”? See the text at:

Very interesting case to follow.


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Dead Sea Scrolls Go to Court

A brilliant young Harvard Ph.D. faces jail for impersonating a Bible scholar—and rival of his father