chicago maroon: e-mails in dead sea scrolls case may implicate prof norman golb

ilana kowarski of the chicago maroon (the university of chicago’s newspaper) has run a new story on the raphael golb / dead sea scrolls / identity theft scandal entitled, ‘e-mails in scrolls case may implicate prof.’ university of chicago oriental institute historian, norman golb, is quoted regarding the arrest and prosecution of his son, raphael golb, on multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, the unauthorized use of a computer, and aggravated harassment.

the article states:

Raphael allegedly targeted and harassed intellectuals who disputed his father’s theory that the Dead Sea Scrolls originate in Jerusalem, rather than in Qumran, where the Scrolls were found. He allegedly harassed scholars by disseminating false accusations about them in public blogs and through e-mails to their friends and colleagues. The prosecution wrote that this allegation is supported by e-mails to other members of the family, including Dr. Golb, in a January 19 pre-trial motion.

norman golb responded with a cleverly-worded comment:

Dr. Golb wrote in a statement Friday that the evidence does not prove his involvement.

that is to say, norman golb is not denying that he was involved, but rather is saying that the evidence released in the new york district attorney’s response to his son’s motion to dismiss the charges against him does not prove his involvement.

norman golb’s response is not unlike the response he gave to canada’s national post in response to san diego natural history museum director mick hager, when hager stated:

“It seems curious at best, that untraceable e-mails were sent to the board of directors of the San Diego Natural History Museum prior to the opening of our Dead Sea scrolls exhibition, making unfounded claims and citing Norman Golb as an expert. Even more curious is that the same thing happened in Seattle, Kansas City, Charlotte and now Toronto.”

to this, golb replied via a letter to the editor of canada’s national post:

“I am unaware of any facts supporting these unusual assertions.”

that is to say, golb then did not deny involvement prior to his son’s arrest, but stated that he was ‘unaware of any facts’ to support that allegation. of course, once his son was arrested, the ‘facts supporting these unusual assertions’ were made public via indictments and other publicly available court documents. thus, golb’s statement to the chicago maroon is not a denial, but rather is his understanding of the evidence that will be presented in the coming trial of his son. he feels that the facts/evidence does not prove his involvement. a jury will decide.

likewise, according to the article, norman golb is now claiming that he is the victim in this case:

Dr. Golb suggested Cargill had taken issue with a sour turn in a scholarly debate, leading to the court case. “As the consequence of a long-standing academic dispute, a campaign of personal attacks is now being waged against me and my family. Claimed ‘evidence’ is being grossly distorted for unworthy purposes and removed from context,” Dr. Golb wrote in the statement.

so apparently, as long as one is on the offensive attacking other scholars behind a veil on anonymity, it is a legitimate endeavor. but, as soon as the curtain is pulled back and the true identity of those behind the green curtain is exposed, and the perpetrators are rightly prosecuted for their alleged crimes, this is a personal attack.  this is a victim mentality at it’s finest. go figure.

norman golb also stated:

“It is perfectly normal for any academic family to express indignation in the case of its members being silenced, excluded, and misrepresented or, to all appearances, plagiarized. In the present case, fair-minded people with knowledge of the circumstances will quite readily come to understand who the victims and the victimizers are.”

again, golb is apparently attempting to frame his son’s defense about his ongoing claim that he and his views have been unfairly ‘silenced, excluded, and misrepresented or, to all appearances, plagiarized,’ and not about the crimes allegedly committed by his son, raphael, in this specific case. it appears as if golb is either attempting to justify his and his son’s actions as just retaliation for the treatment he believes he has received over the past few decades, or, that he is attempting to divert attention from the criminal charges in the case against his son by arguing the defense one might expect in a civil suit against him, his sons, and his employer, the university of chicago.

it is also interesting to note that this is the first time (that i can recall) that norman golb himself suggests that he has been ‘to all appearances, plagiarized.’ his son accused someone of it, but this is the first time i’ve seen norman golb himself use the word in this case.

i replied in the article:

“A little professional jealousy can be a powerful motivator for scholars, encouraging them to focus on their work and produce new and better scholarship. However, when this jealousy, greed, or malice reaches a point where an individual is furtively, yet tenaciously and ubiquitously attempting to smear another scholar to the extent that Raphael Golb and perhaps members of his family are alleged to have done, it runs the danger of crossing into civilly actionable and even criminally actionable activity,” Cargill said in an e-mail interview.

the article also mentions one of the most implicating emails in the scandal:

The court documents allege Raphael sent e-mails to his brother and mother from alias accounts, including one dated July 24, 2008, that says, “By the way, if Dad has some comment on the latest Charles Gadda [an alleged alias of Raphael’s] exchange, he can send it through your e-mail, that way there would be no trace of it in his account.”

the full extent of the publicly available evidence against golb is available here and here.


interestingly, the article did not include some of the answers i gave in response to questions asked by the article’s author regarding the case.

i was asked about our notifying the oriental institute and university of chicago administrators about norman golb’s activities. specifically, i was asked about an exchange of letters between me and oi administrators and the university’s general counsel. the questions and answers were as follows:

>>When were letters sent to the Oriental Institute?

we first contacted the oi about norman golb in late in 2007. beyond that, i have no comment.

>>What did those letters say?

out of respect for the private correspondence between us and the oi, i shall not divulge the contents of the email.

>>To your knowledge, did the Oriental Institute take any action as a result of this correspondence?

i have no knowledge of whether or not the oi or the university of chicago have opened an ethical misconduct investigation or a criminal activity investigation into the actions of norman golb.

shortly after our exchange of letters in feb. 2009, the oi promptly removed a document dr. golb had written about me from the oi website. a few weeks later, raphael golb was arrested.

(the oi’s announcement noting the removal of the document is here: http://oi.uchicago.edu/pdf/san_diego_virtual_reality_2007.pdf)

>>If the allegations against Raphael Golb are true, do you think Prof. Golb or the University of Chicago are at all responsible for the alleged crimes?

no comment.

blogger and online publication section call for papers for the 2010 sbl annual meeting closes march 1

Society of Biblical Literaturethere’s still time. if you plan on submitting a paper for the inaugural ‘blogger and online publication’ section at the society of biblical literature 2010 annual meeting in atlanta, make sure you do so before march 1, 2010.

description of the section:

Originally organized under the aegis of the ‘biblioblogging’ community, this unit has been renamed. ‘Biblioblogging’ refers to a diverse community of nearly every point of view that communicates new ideas or insights, debates, and discusses exegetical and historical subjects. The Blogger and Online Publication Section supports the publication of articles, commentary, and items of interest relating to the Bible and biblical studies online using blogs, social media sites, online journals, and other Internet or web-related vehicles, and promotes communication between bloggers and the SBL.

the call for papers:

The 2010 Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature will be held November 20-23, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. Members wishing to present papers should submit proposals on the SBL website at http://www.sbl-site.org/meetings/AnnualMeeting.aspx by March 1, 2010. First-time presenters and graduate students are encouraged to submit completed papers. Papers from established scholars are particularly encouraged.

The SBL Blogger and Online Publication section invites proposals for papers in two sections for the 2010 annual meeting. Session 1 will be an invited session exploring the history of blogging, the rise of the Internet and its use by biblical scholars, and the future of blogging. Session 2 will be an open session calling for papers focusing on any area of biblical studies, theology, archaeology of the Levant, and the use of blogging in these fields. The second session also invites 60-second profiles of individual blogs, which will be included in a highlight of blog sites. Contributors are welcome to present papers for presentation or 60-second summaries of their blogs for inclusion in a single, 20-minute survey of the top biblical studies related blogs in the web.

For more information, or if you have any questions, please contact Dr. Robert R. Cargill, Center for Digital Humanities, UCLA, 1020 Public Affairs Building, Los Angeles, CA, 90095-1499, or email cargill@humnet.ucla.edu.

chronicle of higher ed asks what’s best done with the dead sea scrolls

An infrared image of a fragment of Deuteronomy 27, part of Azusa Pacific U.'s Dead Sea Scrolls acquisition.

An infrared image of a fragment of Deuteronomy 27, part of Azusa Pacific U.'s Dead Sea Scrolls acquisition.

a new article by jennifer howard of the chronicle of higher education asks an important question: ‘what’s best done with the dead sea scrolls?’ in the article, howard examines the pros and cons of religiously-affiliated universities acquiring fragments of the dead sea scrolls for the sake of publicity.

But for some scholars, the purchases are more a cause for concern than for celebration. Will such acquisitions by academic institutions, even though they are made legally, help drive up the market for looted antiquities and rare artifacts? And is the boost to scholarship really worth the large sums of money those fragments cost?

she also makes note of my recent satirical blog post announcing the acquisition of some dss fragments by other previously unknown dead sea scrolls-centered institutions.

Some scholars feel queasy at the thought that universities will shell out that kind of money in these hard-pressed times, even for objects as symbolically and historically important as pieces of the Dead Sea Scrolls. On his blog, Robert R. Cargill, a Biblical archaeologist, imagined “a race of archaeological one-upmanship,” in which institutions compete to scoop up high-profile objects in order to boost their academic reputations.

Mr. Cargill is the institutional technology coordinator of the Center for Digital Humanities at the University of California at Los Angeles, and the chief architect and designer of UCLA’s Qumran Visualization Project. “Universities are charged with educating people, not acquiring cool artifacts,” he said in an interview. “If someone gives a university something, OK. But universities should spend the bulk of their money on educating students and not on cheap public-relations ploys in an attempt to increase credibility overnight with the purchase of an antiquity.” Mr. Cargill also worries that high-profile acquisitions will encourage would-be looters to see what else they can dig up and put on the market.

jennifer did an excellent job with the article and it is certainly worth the read.

a legal word on free speech

a colleague sent me this recently.

Polito v. AOL Time Warner, Inc., 78 Pa. D. & C.4th 328 (2004)

The First Amendment is not intended to protect unconditionally all forms of expression. Clearly those people who have committed no wrongdoing should be free to participate in online forums without fear that their identity will be exposed under the authority of the court. But, if an anonymous Internet speaker engages in tortious or criminal conduct, the protection of the right to communicate anonymously must be balanced against the need to assure that those persons who choose to abuse the opportunities presented by this medium can be made to answer for such transgressions.

accountability in the event of criminal conduct can outweigh one’s expectation of anonymity.

well, that explains it: fresno is nation’s drunkest city

well, that explains it.

sometimes in life, certain things are suspected long before some scientific research or statistical analysis confirms what we already know. texas votes republican. england likes tea. the vatican likes catholicism.

and such is the case with a new survey to be published in the march 2010 issue of men’s health ranking the drunkest cities in the nation.

the winner: my hometown of fresno, ca.

i’ve told many of my professional colleagues in southern california and across the nation that we do things differently in fresno. for instance, to save money on buying meat at the super market, we hunted. a lot. my family ate something my father shot four nights a week growing up. elk, venison, wild boar – you name it, we ate it, and it was delicious.

and we drink beer in fresno. a lot. in fact, beer plays a major role in many rites of passage in fresno. i can’t recall my father every crying in public (with the exception of his father’s funeral), but i distinctly remember my father shedding a tear on the day i tapped my first keg, which was quite an proud accomplishment for a fifth grader.

and so goes the story of fresno. a big town that still retains a small town attitude. my ‘uncle jerry’ carried a .44 with him when he went on walks around the block, just in case. both my parents have concealed weapons permits, which makes sense for my dad, who was a cop, but is peculiar for my mom, the school teacher. let’s just say i did what i was told growing up.

it’s that kind of town: you don’t mess with me and i won’t mess with you. fresno is an ag community where one can still make more money working on the family farm than in some desk job. there has been an effort to revitalize the downtown area with a more sophisticated clientele in recent years. the most common way of doing this: establishing microbreweries. it’s a vicious cycle.

so congratulations to my fellow fresnans on being named the nation’s drunkest city. on behalf of those of us in the academy, like notable scholars victor davis hanson and eric cline, thank you.

a few more noteworthy items in the list of 100 cities:

  • 3 of the top 12 drunkest cities are in the central san joaquin valley of california (fresno 1, bakersfield 10, modesto 12)
  • the home town of my bride-to-be, lubbock, tx, came in at #8 which is astonishing since lubbock is a dry county!! i’ve often told roslyn that lubbock and fresno are sister cities – both flat, both ridiculously hot in the summer and freezing in the winter, both have really, really nice people, both ag towns, and everyone drives a white pickup – but now i have hard data to confirm it.
  • the soberest/least drunk city in the nation: boston, ma. go figuah. while one might expect the center of red sox nation to be a bit more tipsy, all of those top notch college students studying for endless exams must outweigh the weekend baseball crazed sox lovers.

update: sources say that one of the prime factors used in determining these rankings is the number of drunk driving arrests made over the past year. fresno is in the middle of a city-wide drunk driving crackdown in an attempt to reduce the number of incidents of drunk driving in fresno, resulting in a high percentage of dui citations. on the flip side, the combination of excellent public transportation, the smaller, european style living accommodations, and the proximity of pubs to residential establishments in boston (read: pubs downstairs and on every corner) means very few people ever drive at all, much less when drinking. it’s no excuse, but these facts do contribute to the numbers in fresno where there is no public transportation (the fresno area rapid transit busses don’t count), where everything is big and spread out, and where restaurants and pubs are located in strip malls away from homes.

here is the list:

  1. Fresno, CA                      F
  2. Reno, NV                         F
  3. Billings, MT                    F
  4. Riverside, CA                   F
  5. Austin, TX                        F
  6. St. Louis, MO                  F
  7. San Antonio, TX             F
  8. Lubbock, TX                    F
  9. Tucson, AZ                      F
  10. Bakersfield, CA               F
  11. Las Vegas, NV                F
  12. Modesto, CA                    F
  13. Columbia, SC                   F
  14. Nashville, TN                  D-
  15. Madison, WI                    D-
  16. Colorado Springs, CO    D-
  17. Denver, CO                       D-
  18. Phoenix, AZ                      D-
  19. Cheyenne, WY                D-
  20. Sacramento, CA              D-
  21. New Orleans, LA             D-
  22. Toledo, OH                      D
  23. Aurora, CO                      D
  24. El Paso, TX                      D
  25. Corpus Christi, TX           D
  26. Fargo, ND                        D
  27. San Diego, CA                 D
  28. Lexington, KY                   D
  29. Tampa, FL                         D
  30. Albuquerque, NM             D
  31. Oklahoma City, OK         D+
  32. Tulsa, OK                            D+
  33. Jacksonville, FL               D+
  34. Detroit, MI                        D+
  35. Boise City, ID                   D+
  36. Kansas City, MO             D+
  37. Washington, DC              D+
  38. Montgomery, AL               D+
  39. Omaha, NE                      D+
  40. Portland, OR                    D+
  41. Anchorage, AK                 D+
  42. Birmingham, AL             D+
  43. Greensboro, NC               C-
  44. Wichita, KS                      C-
  45. St. Petersburg, FL           C-
  46. Burlington, VT                 C-
  47. Houston, TX                     C-
  48. Los Angeles, CA              C-
  49. Charleston, WV               C
  50. Orlando, FL                      C
  51. Spokane, WA                   C
  52. Lincoln, NE                      C
  53. Arlington, TX                    C
  54. Des Moines, IA                 C
  55. Fort Worth, TX                 C
  56. Providence, RI                 C
  57. Anaheim, CA                    C
  58. Milwaukee, WI                  C
  59. Pittsburgh, PA                  C
  60. Baltimore, MD                  C
  61. Indianapolis, IN               C
  62. Louisville, KY                   C
  63. Raleigh, NC                     C
  64. Seattle, WA                      C+
  65. Grand Rapids, MI           C+
  66. Buffalo, NY                       C+
  67. Wilmington, DE              C+
  68. Hartford, CT                     C+
  69. Sioux Falls, SD                C+
  70. Virginia Beach, VA          C+
  71. Memphis, TN                   C+
  72. Cincinnati, OH                 C+
  73. Cleveland, OH                 C+
  74. Charlotte, NC                   C+
  75. Oakland, CA                    C+
  76. Little Rock, AR                 B-
  77. Dallas, TX                        B-
  78. Richmond, VA                  B-
  79. San Jose, CA                   B-
  80. Minneapolis, MN            B-
  81. Jackson, MS                    B-
  82. Jersey City, NJ                 B-
  83. Columbus, OH                 B-
  84. Atlanta, GA                       B-
  85. Chicago, IL                       B
  86. San Francisco, CA          B
  87. St. Paul, MN                     B
  88. Honolulu, HI                     B
  89. Philadelphia, PA              B+
  90. Portland, ME                    B+
  91. Manchester, NH               B+
  92. Fort Wayne, IN                 A-
  93. New York, NY                   A-
  94. Durham, NC                    A
  95. Newark, NH                      A
  96. Miami, FL                         A
  97. Salt Lake City, UT            A
  98. Rochester, NY                 A+
  99. Yonkers, NY                    A+
  100. Boston, MA                      A+

journey to discover who really wrote the dead sea scrolls

Dr. Robert Cargill viewing the copy of the Great Isaiah Scroll at the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem's Israel Museum.

Dr. Robert Cargill viewing the copy of the Great Isaiah Scroll at the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem's Israel Museum.

who really wrote the dead sea scrolls? that is the subject of a forthcoming documentary produced by ctvc in london for the national geographic channel. i was asked to be among the interviewees which include (in alphapetical order):

  • robert cargill
  • rachel elior
  • shimon gibson
  • jan gunneweg
  • gideon hadas
  • jean-baptiste humbert
  • jodi magness
  • yuval peleg
  • stephen pfann
  • ronny reich
  • adolfo roitman
  • lawrence schiffman
  • orit shamir
  • pnina shor

the documentary is designed to take all evidence into account, including the site of qumran, the known sects of the second temple period, the caves in which the dss were found, and the contents, shape, size, date, paleography, orthography, language, and ideology of the scrolls themselves.

we discussed several aspects of the scrolls including what it meant to be understood as ‘jewish’ in the second temple period. would orthodox zadokites have understood pharisees to be ‘real’ jews? how about essenes? can one be perceived as jewish if one celebrates yom kippur and passover on a date different from other ‘orthodox’ jews? what does it mean that some jews followed different calendars? what if they believed in various versions of an afterlife if they even believed in an afterlife at all? what happens if different groups claim different biblical canons or have a different understanding of what is ‘scriptural?’ what happens if they expected different messiahs or even multiple messiahs? that is to ask, how far can one stray from orthodox temple judaism before one is no longer considered ‘jewish’ and is considered something else?

on my trip, i visited the kidron and og wadis. i walked through ronny reich’s excavation in the drainage tunnels leading from the temple mount to the kidron valley. i dug the destruction layers at en gedi with gideon hadas and climbed atop masada to ask what copies of genesis, deuteronomy, leviticus, psalms, ezekiel, and most importantly, songs of sabbath sacrifice (fragments of which were also found in qumran caves 4 and 11) would be doing on top of the mountain fortress. i walked around qumran with yuval peleg and had him interpret the site for me based upon his ten seasons of excavations there. we later had a drink at the american colony and discussed the various interpretations of qumran and a couple of recent scandals surrounding the study of the scrolls. i read from the actual isaiah scroll in the basement vault of the shrine of the book with curator adolfo roitman. i held actual scroll jars and viewed roland de vaux’s actual field notes at the école biblique with jean-baptiste humbert. i walked around the walls of jerusalem to what shimon gibson believes to be the gate of the essenes. i visited cave 11 with stephen pfann and listened while he explained his multiple cave theory. i visited the israel antiquities authority’s organic materials lab and had orit shamir show me the scroll linens, the tefillin (phylacteries), wooden bowls, and other domestic items from the caves like combs and sandals. i visited the iaa’s restoration lab with pnina shor and watched as her crew restored fragments of the dss and prepared others for travel abroad for exhibition in the united states.

the production crew was wonderful. led by ctvc executive producer ray bruce, the field team consisted of director/producer john fothergill, associate producer paula nightingale, director of photography lawrence gardner, sound engineer david keene, israeli producer nava mizrahi, and antonia packard.

when it was all said and done, i felt fortunate to have had the opportunity to follow the path of the dead sea scrolls from their creation to their hiding, their discovery, restoration, and exhibition. i have a much better picture of who really wrote the dead sea scrolls. did the essenes really write them? some of them? were the scrolls written at qumran or elsewhere? should we even consider the dead sea scrolls a single corpus? or, should see it as a bunch of different collections of writings from various different jewish groups throughout the land? want to know what i think? it might surprise you. keep your eyes peeled in april for the national geographic channel’s presentation of the answer to the now 60 year old question: who really wrote the dead sea scrolls?

Robert Cargill and Jean-Baptiste Humbert

Robert Cargill and Jean-Baptiste Humbert with the Dead Sea Scrolls collection at the École Biblique in Jerusalem.

Robert Cargill and Jean-Baptiste Humbert

Robert Cargill and Jean-Baptiste Humbert reviewing photographs and Roland de Vaux's actual field notes at the École Biblique in Jerusalem.

Robert Cargill and Ronny Reich in the drainage tunnels leading from the Jerusalem Temple Mount to the Kidron Valley.

Robert Cargill and Ronny Reich in the drainage tunnels leading from the Jerusalem Temple Mount to the Kidron Valley.

Robert Cargill and Pnina Shor

Robert Cargill and Pnina Shor in the Dead Sea Scrolls Conservation Lab of the Israel Antiquities Authority in Jerusalem.

Adolfo Roitman, Curator of the Shrine of the Book, reads from a portion of the Isaiah-a Scroll discovered in Cave 1 at Qumran. The Isaiah-a scroll is presently housed in the vault of the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem.

Robert Cargill and Adolfo Roitman

Robert Cargill and Adolfo Roitman viewing a portion of the Great Isaiah Scroll in the vault of the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem's Israel Museum.

Robert Cargill and Orit Shamir

Robert Cargill and Orit Shamir at the organic materials lab of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Robert Cargill and Shimon Gibson at the Wall of the Old City of Jerusalem.

Robert Cargill and Shimon Gibson at the Wall of the Old City of Jerusalem.

Robert Cargill and Yuval Peleg in the locus 138 miqveh (ritual bath) at Qumran.

Robert Cargill and Yuval Peleg in the locus 138 miqveh (ritual bath) at Qumran.

Robert Cargill and Yuval Peleg

Yuval Peleg shows Robert Cargill parts of his excavation at Qumran.

Robert Cargill and Stephen Pfann in Cave 11 near Qumran

Robert Cargill and Stephen Pfann in Cave 11 near Qumran.

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