Dead Sea Scroll Controversy Takes Tangled Turn Online
Prof’s son arrested, ‘Times’ reports
Court papers were filed this week in the case of Raphael Golb, who’s accused of impersonating academic rivals online in attempt to discredit their view of the Dead Sea Scrolls’ origins. Golb’s father is a University of Chicago professor who takes the unpopular view that the scrolls were produced by libraries in Jerusalem and were hidden in caves outside the city when the Romans took over in the year 70. The more standard theory is that the scrolls were authored by a sect called the Essenes, who lived near the same caves. The younger Golb allegedly created some 50 online aliases, including both non-existent supporters of his father and pseudo-versions of his father’s critics, in a convoluted case the New York Times reported on yesterday. The most inflammatory charge against Golb, who was arrested in March and is being prosecuted by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, is that he created a false email address for New York University professor Lawrence H. Schiffman and circulated emails from that address “confessing” to plagiarism. Weirder still, the articles the fake Schiffman admitted to plagiarizing were in fact written by Golb under another of his many aliases. Golb’s lawyers are arguing that he was simply a parodist and that no harm was meant.