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Raphael Golb's Sentence, Part I

Raphael Golb, listens as his lawyer, Ronald Kuby argues on his behalf during a sentencing hearing in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan July 14, 2014.The case is bizarre, on a number of grounds.

A New York court has sentenced the man pictured here, Raphael Golb, on misdemeanor criminal impersonation and forgery charges.

If this were just another petty crook, it wouldn't be worth our notice at Jamesian Philosophy Refreshed. But this is the son of an important scholar, and the crimes were committed on behalf of the proper interpretation of certain ancient texts, the lifework of that paternal inspiration.

Raphael's father, Norman Golb, is known as an advocate of the view that the Essenes had no especially close association with the Dead Sea Scrolls.  \

Why is that important? The Essenes, an ascetic sect of Judaism that disagreed firmly with both the Sadducees and the Pharisees, are mentioned by several ancient authors (Philo, Josephus, Pliny) and are widely thought to have withdrawn from the wicked world into the purer environment of Ein Gedi, near the shore of the Dead Sea.

As ancient scrolls were discovered near Ein Gedi beginning in 1956, a process of discovery that took another decade, the natural assumption was that these Essenes had written them.

Norman Golb's theory is very different. He believes that the scrolls came ultimately from libraries (plural, not one single Library) in Jerusalem. In 70 AD, as a consequence of a Zealot rebellion against Rome, Roman armies  besieged Jerusalem, and various individuals from diverse groups smuggled out books that they held in high esteem, hiding these valuable scrolls, taking them to the fortress of Qumran, a fortress which happened to be near the old Essene stomping grounds -- but that fact was incidental to their presence their. From the fortress, they made their way in time to the caves. In short, the scrolls represent Judaism in general in the "inter-testamental" period, not a particular sect.

This theory has been heatedly controverted, and the younger Golb has himself waded into the scholarly controversial about whether there is anything Essenic about the Scrolls.

The legal troubles into which he has gotten himself as a consequence? I'll discuss this tomorrow.


  1. Golb's jail sentence has been stayed by an appellate judge in NYC pending the outcome of his appeal of the sentence and other issues. See the case documentation at:

    (Scroll down past the photo to the "August 25, 2014 update.")


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