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When Jews Fall out - Take Cover!

By Davidduff

Actually, in this particularly woeful tale my title is a bit of a slur on the Jews for whom I am second to none in my admiration.  It should read 'When experts fall out - take cover!'  I, of course, being expert in absolutely nothing never fall out with anyone - sorry, did you say something, looking for an argument, are you?  Where was I?  Ah, yes, Jews falling out . . . and the reason for my title is that the subject of this particular brouhaha (is that a Jewish word, I wonder?) is peculiarly Jewish - those dreaded Dead Sea Scrolls.  As an aside - and yes, I will get to the point eventually - I'm surprised Monty Python didn't get a few jokes on that fraught subject into The Life of Brian. Sorry, sorry, but one more prevarication before I get to the point, normally here at D&N (as you all know well) we are not just up with the news but frequently ahead of it but, alas, I first read this story back in January and filed it carefully under 'Blog Feeder' for later consideration, er, but not quite this late - sorry!

Right, here's the story - but first a photo to set the scene:

When Jews fall out - take cover!

Yes, we're in court which is frequently where disagreements between experts, Jewish or otherwise, end up.  Incidentally, the expression on that cop's face as he looks at the lawyer is priceless!  But let me give you the background and the dramatis personae.  The overgrown, dipstick-looking guy wearing a scarf indoors is the defendent and his name is Raphael Golb.  Apart from being a dipstick he also has a Ph.D. from Harvard and a law degree, so that makes him an educated dipstick!  (The bloke with the big mouth and the pony tail(!) is a common, alas, all too common,  species of shark known as 'a lawyer' but he does not concern us here.)

Back in January, Mr. Golb jnr ( there is a Golb snr who will enter later) was on trial accused of having set up a false e-mail account in the name of "Lawrence Schiffman, professor" (that "professor" is important as you will see later, er, are you still with me?) and then sending out e-mails to all and sundry under Schiffman's name admitting that he, Schiffman, had plagiarised the scholarly work of, yes, you guessed it, Mr. Golb, snr, a tremendous Dead Sea Scrolls swot and the father of the accused.  Somehow, in some way - and if you really want to know you may have to consult 'The Shark' up above if you can afford more than 3.5 minutes of his time which you can't - Mr. Golb jnr was charged with various criminal offences to do with impersonating Prof. Schiffman, etc, etc.

He defended himself, or rather 'The Shark' defended him on the grounds that the e-mails were obviously a parody and not meant to be taken seriously because obviously no one would sign themselves as a "professor" with a small 'p'.  At this point I must appeal to my e-pal, DM, for a ruling on this particular nicety of professorial etiquette, him being an Oxbridge swot and all.  Anyway, Golb jnr, to the surprise of many, including, I guess, 'The Shark'  ('but, heh, I get paid anyway'), was found guilty but an appeal is in the system not least because the judge is well-known for her, shall we say, eccentric interpretations of the legal system.

But, dammit, I didn't want to get tied up in all this legal jabberwocky, it was the history of what can only be called The War of the Dead Sea Scrolls that fascinated me and I urge you to read the original article in The Tablet by Ms. Batya Ungar-Sargon.  Even I knew that just after the war, a dozy Jordanian shepherd threw a stone into a cave to chase out a recalcitrant goat and heard an almighty crash.  He went into the cave and discovered a broken urn containing ancient manuscripts.  I gather he earned a few quid, so that's alright, but thereafter 'war' broke out as the experts, first Christian then Jewish, fought for control of the scripts and used every pretext to keep them out of anyone else's sight whilst a theory was developed and then set in concrete.  Futile, of course, because eventually more experts dug into the subject and new theories (heresies?) arose.  Hence, some sixty odd years later Professors (capital 'P', mind!) Schliffman and Golb snr found themselves on opposite sides of a totally obscure, well, obscure to us plebs, dispute concerning the origins and meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

I would urge you to read Ms. Ungar-Sargon's article which is a fascinating historical tale told with much more clarity and intelligence than my effort - but then, she's Jewish - so waddya expect, my life already!

 

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