Thursday, October 07, 2010

Schiffman - Golb (1) - Schiffman's Blatant Plagiarism

Schiffman (Bible Review 6, No.5, Oct 1990, The Significance of the Scrolls):
“It is now becoming increasingly clear that the Scrolls are the primary source for the study of Judaism in all its varieties in the last centuries before the Common Era. In short, this corpus does not simply give us an entry into the sect that inhabited the nearby settlement, but also has an enormous amount to tell us about the widely varying Judaisms of the Hasmonaean and Herodian periods….It can now be stated, this hoard of manuscripts includes material representing a variety of Jewish groups as well as polemics against other Jewish groups. As a result of this new understanding much more can be done with the scrolls."

Golb (Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 124, 1980, The Problem of Origin, and Identification the Dead Sea Scrolls Authors):
“What may in my opinion be fairly inferred about the scrolls from the caves from facts now available, but not known in 1948, is that these manuscripts stem from first-century Palestinian Jews and are remnants of a literature showing a wide variety of practices beliefs and opinions which was removed from Jerusalem before or during the siege, brought down to the Judean wilderness and adjacent areas, and there, with the aid of inhabitants of the region, were successfully hidden away for long periods of time.”

A child would know what was going on here.  How did Schiffman get away with this? Why hasn’t NYU taken notice? He never credited or acknowledged Golb for his theory, a theory that Schiffman subsequently adapted to develop his own ideas (e.g. regarding Pharisees) and thus further his own career. And yet Golb had paved the way for Schiffman’s theory by pointing out the “wide variety of beliefs and practices” supported by the scrolls. It was an appalling mistake not to give credit where it was due. Instead, Schiffman announced that it could “now be stated” there was “a new understanding” of the scrolls, as though he and his supporters were the discoverers of new ideas. Schiffman recognized that credit should have been given to Golb. In his 1990 article “The Significance of the Scrolls”, he dismissed Golb’s theory more or less with a stroke of his pen. He didn’t bother to argue (except in the broadest of terms) against Golb’s theory, explained in considerable detail in “The Problem of Origin of the Scrolls”. He wrote: “At this point, I should perhaps comment briefly on the Dead Sea Scroll hypothesis recently put forward by professor Norman Golb.” Earlier in his article, Schiffman similarly dismissed the views of Jacob Neusner. Thus, in support of the Talmud (compiled well post first century), Schiffman wrote: “This letter (the scroll MMT) requires that the view of prominent scholars (prominent, as distinct from Golb?) – most notably Jacob Neusner (notable, as distinct from Golb?), who doubted the reliability of the rabbis regarding Pharisees, must be re-evaluated.” It seems that Schiffman’s attitude to other scholars who opposed his views has been arrogant, to say the least.

If Schiffman wants to die at peace he ought to apologise to Norman Golb.