Sunday, July 15, 2007

CONTROVERSY ALIVE AND WELL: A Chicago professor is at the center of a dispute about who really wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls
By Pauline Dubkin Yearwood (07/13/2007) (Chicago Jewish News)

When Professor Norman Golb leads a weekend trip to an exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls at the San Diego Natural History Museum this fall, it won't be the ordinary excursion in which visitors admire the exhibit and learn some extra tidbits about its content from the visiting scholar.

Instead Golb, the Ludwig Rosenberger Professor of Jewish History and Civilization at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute, will try to convince travelers that much of the information in the exhibit is wrong.

Golb, who describes himself broadly as a scholar of the Jewish people, has been a controversial figure in the world of Dead Sea Scrolls scholarship since 1995, when his book, "Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls? -- The Search for the Secret of Qumran" (Scribner) was published.

In it, he goes against a scholarly consensus that has been at the forefront of scroll scholarship since the awe-inspiring documents' accidental discovery in 1947. That conventional wisdom holds that the scrolls were written by the Essenes, an ancient Jewish communal society of ascetic pacifists.

Golb contends instead that the scrolls were the work of individuals from many segments of the ancient Jewish world and that they were hidden near the Dead Sea, among other locations, by Jews fleeing the Roman army around 70 C.E.

For more on Golb see here. It seems that his idea that Qumran was a fortress could be catching on.