Biblical Archaeology Review 39:3, May/June 2013

Strata: Dead Sea Scroll Scholar’s Son Off to Jail

A New York appellate court has affirmed the criminal conviction of Raphael Golb, son of Dead Sea Scroll scholar Norman Golb, for impersonating another Dead Sea Scroll scholar, Lawrence Schiffman. In this guise, “Schiffman” (actually an email account Raphael Golb created in Schiffman’s name) admitted to plagiarizing the work of Raphael Golb’s father, Norman.

Norman Golb and Schiffman had been at odds in their interpretation of the scrolls. (Schiffman was not the only Scroll scholar who disagreed with Norman Golb. A recent book on the scrolls by Yale’s John Collins characterized Norman Golb’s view as “not respected in the scholarly community.”1) By the impersonating emails, Raphael Golb hoped to help his father’s case.

Raphael Golb appealed his conviction by a jury, for which the trial judge had sentenced him to six months in jail. The three-judge appellate court unanimously affirmed the conviction.

On his appeal, Raphael Golb argued that his impersonation of Schiffman was only a parody. In essence, he was only kidding, not to be taken seriously. The court rejected this argument: “The evidence clearly established that the defendant never intended any kind of parody.”

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