Saturday, March 07, 2009

"I ASSUME WE'LL GET LESS MAIL NOW." Dead Sea Scrolls scholar and curator Risa Levitt Kohn is interviewed by the National Post about the Golb arrest. Excerpt (but worth reading in full):
NP: What do you think of this dispute — what one might expect to remain an academic dispute or a ‘battle of ideas’ — now heading into a criminal court of law?

RLK: This is not an academic dispute. The allegation is of an attempt by one individual to promote Dr. Golb’s views in a manner implying that they are gaining widespread acceptance. Dr. Golb is not the only individual with a theory that disputes Qumran-Essenes or that a sectarian group lived at Qumran. There are different theories, which have varying degrees of acceptance. It’s the nature of academic life that you have scholars in disagreement. They tend to debate in academic publications such as books and peer-reviewed journal articles, and sometimes at academic conferences.
The National Post also has an article on "The Curse of the Scrolls" in which Larry Schiffman is interviewed:
"I don't know what caused the transition from the proper intellectual discourse," Prof. Schiffman said in an interview with the National Post.

"What seems to have happened is his son decided to take up the cudgels of his father and the way he took up the cudgels is this whole series of actions.

"Usually these things happen because someone hates their ex-wife. But this? Who would do this?

"But there is something called the curse of the Dead Sea Scrolls because it would happen quite often that people just go overboard regarding the scrolls."

Over the decades, some scroll scholars have become alcoholics, gone from sound research to fringe theories and suffered other crisis, Prof. Schiffman said.
That's the first I've heard of a curse, although I agree that the Dead Sea Scrolls have a remarkably disturbing effect on some people.

Also, Norman Golb is quoted in the Chicago Tribune, apparently acknowledging that the e-mails came from his son:
Norman Golb, a professor of Jewish history and civilization at the U. of C., on Friday described his son's arrest as another twist in the ongoing, often heated debate about the ancient scrolls.

"The fact of the matter is that if I understand it, Raphael was responding to the attacks on me," Golb said from his university office. "I suppose my son felt it was important to get things straight."

He added, "This has everything to do with the politics of the scrolls."
And finally, another blogger has contacted me to say that he received similar e-mails, evidently from the culprit in this case. April DeConick reports that she got some too. (And April is right that we should have notified Larry Schiffman at the time. I'm used to just ignoring crank e-mails, but this was a little different. Sorry Larry. Live and learn.) And Claude Mariottini gives me yet another reason not to enable comments.

Background here.

UPDATE: I see that Mark Goodacre was a recipient too.

UPDATE (8 March): Rebecca Lesses too.

UPDATE: Robert Cargill thoroughly documents the actions of the "puppet master" at Who Is Charles Gadda? (Via דברים בבלוגו.)