Dead Sea Scrolls 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 Shiffman’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.”*) 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.


Raphael Golb

Norman Golb

Lawrence Schiffman

In his appeal, Raphael Golb argued that his impersonation of Lawrence 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.”

Raphael Golb also argued that his emails in Schiffman’s name were constitutionally protected free speech. This too the upper court rejected: “The fact that the underlying dispute between defendant and his father’s rivals was a constitutionally-protected debate does not provide any First Amendment protection for acts that were otherwise unlawful … The First Amendment protects the right to criticize another person, but it does not permit anyone to give an intentionally false impression that the source of the message is that other person.” [Emphasis in original]

Raphael Golb made numerous other arguments which the court summarily rejected. **

Raphael Golb, who is himself a lawyer, may still appeal to New York’s highest appellate court, the New York Court of Appeals. If he loses there, he may ask the United States Supreme Court to hear his case.

Notes

* John J. Collins The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Biography. (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2013). p. 217.
** For those interested in litigation strategy, also often applicable to scholarly debate, see Judge Learned Hand’s approbation of a distinguished lawyer who had the wisdom to rely on his strongest argument: “He dared to rest his case upon its strongest point, and so avoided the appearance of weakness and uncertainty which comes of a clutter of arguments. Few lawyers are willing to do this; it is a mark of the most distinguished talent.” “In Memory of Charles Neave,” in Irving Dilliard, ed. The Spirit of Liberty, Papers and Addresses of Learned Hand (New York: Knopf, 1959), p. 97.

 


 
Interested in Dead Sea Scrolls scholarship? The BAS DVD The Scrolls, Scripture and Interpretation explores the meaning and significance of these thousands of fragments and manuscripts in relation to the Biblical text and covenants. Learn directly from renowned scholars Peter W. Flint, Sidnie White Crawford, Ronald S. Hendel, James Sanders and Henry W.M. Reitz. Read more >>
 

 

Related Content in the BAS Library

Strata: Raphael Golb Convicted.” Biblical Archaeology Review, Jan/Feb 2011, 18.

Strata: Strata: Scroll Scholar’s Son Indicted for Identity Theft to Support Father’s Views.” Biblical Archaeology Review, Nov/Dec 2009, 18.

Schiffman, Lawrence H., Vermes, Geza. “The Dead Sea Scrolls: The Dead Sea Scrolls: How They Changed My Life.Biblical Archaeology Review, Jul/Aug 2007, 54-59, 61.

Schiffman, Lawrence H. “Bible Books.” Bible Review, Aug 2001, 42-44.

Schiffman, Lawrence H. “New Light on the Pharisees.” Bible Review, Jun 1992, 30-33, 54.

Schiffman, Lawrence H. “The Significance of the Scrolls.” Bible Review, Oct 1990, 18-27, 52.

Halpern, Baruch, Schiffman, Lawrence H. “Bible Books.” Bible Review, Summer 1986, 12-13.

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Posted in Archaeologists, Biblical Scholars & Works, Dead Sea Scrolls, News.

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9 Responses

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  1. Al says

    Good! Raphael Golb’s actions were despicable and he deserves every last day of his sentence.

  2. Steven says

    The article misunderstands the purpose of satire and parody, often they are not the same as comedy. They are designed to probe and provoke, to bring salient questions to the fore.

    BAS should, in fact, be especially understanding of the dynamics of this case, having run into the use of “home court advantage” once before, in a tussle with Elisha Qimron. The difference was that Herschel was not faced with jail time, because the question was where it belonged, in civil courts.

    I posted a few more thoughts on a Bible text list.

    [TC-Alternate-list] the Brave Net World, #2 – the DSS case of Raphael Golb
    Steven Avery – Jan 29, 2012
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TC-Alternate-list/message/5504

  3. Victor says

    Norman Golb, although I’m NOT “JEWISH,” I ABSOLUTELY KNOW THAT “JEWS” ARE THE ENEMY OF THE WORLD, EVEN THOSE WHO HAVE “NOT” BEEN GIVEN THE SPIRIT OF “UNDERSTANDING” YET THAT “YAHSHUA!” IS OUR SAVIOR & SOON WILL BE BACK, BUT NOT UNTIL THE TWO-WITNESSES OF REVELATION, CHAPTER 11 FIRST ON A SOON COMING FEAST OF TRUMPETS(WAR)! NO? JUST WATCH, IF YOU’RE ONE OF THE VERY FEW “SURVIVORS!” Just saying what’s already been written about it…!

  4. Richard says

    Complete documentation of the Raphael Golb trial and appeal, including a revealing personal account of the trial by Raphael Golb entitled “Gatekeeping the Net,” is available at:

    http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

    In my opinion, the case is a malicious prosecution. It is not clear yet whether Golb will be in prison or if his bail will be continued as the case moves up to the New York Court of Appeals in Albany and the federal courts.

  5. Steven says

    Hi,

    And I just want to say that it would be truly a travesty to place Raphael to prison while :

    ** fundamental constitutional issues **

    are being appealed to higher courts.

    The internet and scholarly discourse has survived quite well with Raphael out on bail, afawk he has been a model citizen in NYC and on the net.

    It would be good to impress upon the decision makers here that they are dealing with fundamental constitutional issues. The little old ladies are not being mugged, there is no indication of anything other than proper functioning throught the judicial system, no flight to Chicago or Transylvania (in honor of the draconian and draculonian aspects of the case) or Tasmania seems to be a concern of anybody.

    Raphael is young enough that it is most probable that he could do time when the appeals are completed, in the unlikely situation that higher courts do not overturn this travesty.

    Thus, we hope that Raphael will be simply working on the constitutional issues and any other edifying endeavors… as a free man while the wheels of justice turn, grind and whirl.

    And that no judge will do something dumb that would go against constitutional issues actually whirling the case to careful consideration, and hopefully the rightful freedom (with or without exoneration). Just let the big wheels keep on turning, proud theorists can keep on a-burning, and all of us can keep on a-learning.

    Steven

  6. joe says

    I too was being harassed by Golb over my work at Qumran but kept quiet as I was under the belief that I was being attacked by several individuals whereas it was but one.
    There are still a lot of questions remains here, number one is did Shanks testify on Golb’s behalf and if so why?

  7. Aviv says

    Raphael Golb has so far not been “sent to jail”; his sentence has been stayed by the New York Court of Appeals in Albany which has granted Golb’s request to have the case heard.

    See:

    Meanwhile, Lawrence Schiffman’s lawyer has exchanged words concerning the case with Prof. Eugene Volokh of UCLA.

    http://www.volokh.com/2013/03/15/new-yorks-highest-court-agrees-to-hear-the-golb-dead-sea-scrolls-e-mail-impersonation-case/

    http://www.volokh.com/2013/03/13/prof-lawrence-schiffmans-lawyer-demands-removal-of-post-containing-the-text-of-a-court-opinion/

    http://blog.simplejustice.us/2013/03/13/schiffman-meet-streisand.aspx

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130314/17275122332/internet-is-baseless-legal-threats-popehat-greenfield-volokh-triple-streisand-edition.shtml

    Hershel’s note on choosing the “strongest argument” is somewhat unclear given the number of different charges involved in the case. Is he suggesting Golb should have refrained from any discussion of the satirical nature of Internet impersonation, or perhaps that he should have focused only on the “harassment” counts, under which he was convicted for sending anonymous email complaints with the intent to “annoy” the people he was complaining about?

  8. Aviv says

    My comment was garbled. I will try once more and give up if it doesn’t work:

    Raphael Golb has so far not been “sent to jail”; his sentence has been stayed by the New York Court of Appeals in Albany which has granted Golb’s request to have the case heard. See:

    http://www.volokh.com/2013/03/15/new-yorks-highest-court-agrees-to-hear-the-golb-dead-sea-scrolls-e-mail-impersonation-case/

    Meanwhile, Lawrence Schiffman’s lawyer has exchanged words concerning the case with Prof. Eugene Volokh of UCLA. See:

    http://www.volokh.com/2013/03/13/prof-lawrence-schiffmans-lawyer-demands-removal-of-post-containing-the-text-of-a-court-opinion/

    http://blog.simplejustice.us/2013/03/13/schiffman-meet-streisand.aspx

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130314/17275122332/internet-is-baseless-legal-threats-popehat-greenfield-volokh-triple-streisand-edition.shtml

    Hershel’s note on choosing the “strongest argument” is somewhat unclear given the number of different charges involved in the case. Is he suggesting Golb should have refrained from any discussion of the satirical nature of Internet impersonation, or perhaps that he should have focused only on the “harassment” counts, under which he was convicted for sending anonymous email complaints with the intent to “annoy” the people he was complaining about?

  9. Quixote says

    The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers has filed an amicus brief specifically concerning this case… (Perhaps BAR should contact the court and join the brief? We know how much Hershel believes in justice.) The brief is posted online at:

    http://raphaelgolbtrial.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/raphael-golb-amicus-brief.pdf


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