Skip to main content

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and the Pharisees, are mentioned by several ancient authors (Philo, Josephus, Pliny) and are widely thought to have withdrawn from the wicked world into the purer environment of Ein Gedi, near the shore of the Dead Sea.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.")


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

A Story About Coleridge

This is a quote from a memoir by Dorothy Wordsworth, reflecting on a trip she took with two famous poets, her brother, William Wordsworth, and their similarly gifted companion, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

We sat upon a bench, placed for the sake of one of these views, whence we looked down upon the waterfall, and over the open country ... A lady and gentleman, more expeditious tourists than ourselves, came to the spot; they left us at the seat, and we found them again at another station above the Falls. Coleridge, who is always good-natured enough to enter into conversation with anybody whom he meets in his way, began to talk with the gentleman, who observed that it was a majestic waterfall. Coleridge was delighted with the accuracy of the epithet, particularly as he had been settling in his own mind the precise meaning of the words grand, majestic, sublime, etc., and had discussed the subject with William at some length the day before. “Yes, sir,” says Coleridge, “it is a majestic wate…

Cancer Breakthrough

Hopeful news in recent days about an old and dear desideratum: a cure for cancer. Or at least for a cancer, and a nasty one at that.

The news comes about because investors in GlaxoSmithKline are greedy for profits, and has already inspired a bit of deregulation to boot. 

The FDA has paved the road for a speedy review of a new BCMA drug for multiple myeloma, essentially cancer of the bone marrow. This means that the US govt has removed some of the hurdles that would otherwise (by decision of the same govt) face a company trying to proceed with these trials expeditiously. 

This has been done because the Phase I clinical trial results have been very promising. The report I've seen indicates that details of these results will be shared with the world on Dec. 11 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology. 

The European Medicines Agency has also given priority treatment to the drug in question. 

GSK's website identifies the drug at issue as "GSK2857916," althou…

Hume's Cutlery

David Hume is renowned for two pieces of cutlery, the guillotine and the fork.

Hume's guillotine is the sharp cut he makes between "is" statements and "ought" statements, to make the point that the former never ground the latter.

His "fork" is the division between what later came to be called "analytic" and "synthetic" statements, with the ominous observation that any books containing statements that cannot be assigned to one or the other prong should be burnt.

Actually, I should acknowledge that there is some dispute as to how well or poorly the dichotomy Hume outlines really maps onto the analytic/synthetic dichotomy. Some writers maintain that Hume meant something quite different and has been hijacked. Personally, I've never seen the alleged difference however hard they've worked to point it out to me.

The guillotine makes for a more dramatic graphic than a mere fork, hence the bit of clip art above.

I'm curious whe…