Saturday, March 07, 2009

Philology wars and 'phreeping'?

The Chronicle of Higher Ed has a piece about the longstanding and remarkably bitter scholarly fights over the Dead Sea Scrolls. Here's a long quote to orient you:

The Manhattan district attorney's office alleged in a statement released on Thursday that Raphael Haim Golb, 49, son of Norman Golb, a professor of Jewish history and civilization at the University of Chicago, used dozens of Internet aliases to "influence and affect debate on the Dead Sea Scrolls" and "harass Dead Sea Scrolls scholars who disagree with his viewpoint. …

The office contends that Mr. Golb impersonated and harassed Lawrence H. Schiffman, a professor of Hebrew and Judaic studies at New York University and a leading Dead Sea Scrolls scholar, by creating an e-mail account in Mr. Schiffman's name and using it to send e-mail messages in which the sender admitted to plagiarism.

Mr. Golb also allegedly supplemented that campaign to discredit Mr. Schiffman by sending letters to university personnel accusing Mr. Schiffman of plagiarism, and by creating blogs that made similar accusations. Two blogs, each with a single entry, accuse Mr. Schiffman of plagiarizing articles written by Norman Golb in the 1980s.

You may know the heart of the dispute because it shows up occasionally in the popular press ('MSM' seems wrong here): Whether the scrolls were written by residents of Qumran, where they were found, or written in Jerusalem and brought there.

An alarming example of Sayre's Law, I suppose:
In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the stakes at issue. That is why academic politics are so bitter.
And I guess if a philologist starting freeping, we should spell it phreeping?

Image from here, which happens to be an announcement for a talk by Norman Golb at Columbia.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kind of spooky.