Norman Golb, U. of Chicago scholar's son charged with identity theft, harassment

Historians in the News

The plot sounds like a fictional thriller: The son of a scholar of ancient religions is charged with using intricate Internet scams to discredit his father's critics.

But this is no made-up story. 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.

The academic subject at the center of the controversy is 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, the 49-year-old 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. ...

Norman Golb, a professor of Jewish history and civilization at the U. of C., on Friday described his son's arrest as another twist in the ongoing, often heated debate about the ancient scrolls.

"The fact of the matter is that if I understand it, Raphael was responding to the attacks on me," Golb said from his university office. "I suppose my son felt it was important to get things straight."

He added, "This has everything to do with the politics of the scrolls."...

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