Biblical Archaeology Review 11:3, May/June 1985

BARview: Neusner Joins Ranks of Superman

By Hershel Shanks

Biblical Archaeology Review

In “The Hebrew Origins of Superman,” BAR 05:03, we published an article illustrated with a picture of Superman emerging into the air from an excavation beside the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. On the emblem on his chest we placed, instead of the customary “S,” a tenth-century B.C. Hebrew shin. Shortly thereafter, Superman—or rather his owner, D.C. Comics, Inc.—threatened BAR with a legal suit.

Not since then have we been threatened with a court action for something we published—until we received the following letter from Professor Jacob Neusner of Brown University:

“This is to inform you that my attorney, Mr. Norman Orodenker, of Levy, Goodman, Semenoff and Gorin, in Providence, is studying the article about me in your magazine with a view to determining whether or not to bring suit on grounds of defamation. I shall be guided by his judgment of the matter. Beyond this point, no further communication is possible.”

We hope that Professor Neusner will eventually decide, as Superman did, not to file suit. A court of law is no place to determine whether we have wronged Professor Neusner. The pages of BAR are open. Speech should be countered with speech, not with a suit for money damages. (We say nothing of the fact that what we said is legally protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.)

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