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Professor's son accused of ID theft in Dead Sea Scrolls debate

Raphael Golb, son of University of Chicago's Norman Golb, was involved in a campaign to smear his father's critics, authorities say.

March 07, 2009|Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — New York City authorities this week charged the son of University of Chicago professor Norman Golb with identity theft, criminal impersonation and harassment in connection with a campaign to smear opponents of his father's scholarly theories.

At the center of the controversy are the 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls, religiously significant documents that have provoked controversy since they were discovered six decades ago.

The Manhattan district attorney contends that Raphael Golb, 49, used dozens of Internet aliases during a six-month period last year to sway debate about the scrolls.

In one instance, Golb, an attorney, allegedly opened an e-mail account in the name of Lawrence Schiffman, a New York University professor and one of his father's chief critics. Then, using NYU computers, Golb allegedly posed as Schiffman and sent e-mails to Schiffman's colleagues admitting plagiarism.

Schiffman said he contacted the district attorney's office, and the investigation began. The younger Golb "obviously went way overboard to protect the intellectual views of his father," Schiffman told the Chicago Tribune on Friday.

Norman Golb, a professor of Jewish history and civilization at the University of Chicago, on Friday said: "Raphael was responding to the attacks on me. . . . I suppose my son felt it was important to get things straight."

The author of "Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?: The Search for the Secret of Qumran" holds a minority view that the scrolls were a sort of library of writings by several Jewish sects. Most scholars believe the scrolls are the work of a single Jewish sect, the Essenes.

Raphael Golb's attorney, Irena Milos, declined to comment Friday.

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