Saturday, October 23, 2010

Schiffman - Golb (3) - Plagiarism Again

Schiffman (Bible Review 6, No.5, Oct 1990, The Significance of the Scrolls):
“It is now becoming increasingly clear (it was already clear to Golb a long time before Schiffman made this announcement as though it was news) 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 (Schiffman’s hypothetical Qumran sect) that inhabited the nearby settlement, but also has an enormous amount to tell us about the widely varying Judaisms of the Hasmonean and Herodian periods. In assessing the importance of the collection, we must remember that almost no other primary Hebrew or Aramaic sources exist (music to the ears of Jacob Neusner) for the reconstruction of Judaism during these periods. Thus these documents are providing a critical background for the study of the later emergence both of rabbinic Judaism and of the early Christian Church.”

Golb (see his 1980 article in the Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, p.11) where he sums up by stating that what was by then known about the contents of the scrolls was “more than sufficient to show, even at present, the mentality and religious outlook of various groups within Palestinian Judaism prior to 70 A.D.” Schiffman never acknowledged that Golb had made this observation some years before 1990.  Golb further stated in his American Scholar article of 1989 (p.207), that on the outcome of the debate over the scrolls depended “our understanding of Christian origins and of ancient Judaism.” 

It is interesting that Golb concluded his 1980 article in the Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society with the statement: "While I do not share the view of colleagues who uphold the Qumran-Essene hypothesis (the then Qumran sect hypothesis), I offer this interpretation with admiration for the brilliant work done by them on those texts, and with the hope that the proposed hypothesis (Golb's) will be useful in the overall elucidation of their remarkable contents." You can't get much more fair, humble and scholarly than that. The subsequent attitude of some other scholars towards Golb has been sharply different.

It is worthwile considering Golb’s words written for his American Scholar article of 1989. He wrote that on the outcome of the debate over the scrolls depended: “our understanding of CHRISTIAN ORIGINS AND OF ANCIENT JUDAISM.” I have never seen the scrolls referred to quite like this very original statement. Usually, scholars refer to the Scrolls for background information to Christianity and Judaism, almost as though the Scrolls were second best. Maurice Casey, a professor of Nottingham University has just published a book, Jesus of Nazareth, in which he does exactly that, for example he refers to the Messiahs or anointed ones in the Scrolls (p.393), but only for background information. Scholars of Judaism, such as Schiffman, also use the Scrolls as background information.  But is there something much more pointed about the Scrolls?  There is, for example, such a large amount of them that they must surely have had great importance in their day.  And what about the party who some of the writers of the Scrolls separated from, a party who opposed the priests, and who are referred to extensively in many of the Scrolls? Who were they?