Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Apparently, scholars are 'in uproar'

According to an article in today's Times, scholars have descended to the level of small children. This may not surprise those of us who move in such circles, but nontheless it's a great story.

The 'weird theology' story, of the ilk that crops up from time to time, is that:

'Rachel Elior, a professor of Jewish philosophy at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, claims in a forthcoming study that not only were the 930 scrolls written by Jewish priests living in Jerusalem but that the Essenes as a sect did not exist.'

In itself this is barely newsworthy (well, it would be if it had any substantive scholarly basis, but...)

However, what takes the story to exciting levels of degeneracy is the fact that:

'The debate has even led to the arrest of the son of one proponent of the theory that the Essenes did not write the ancient scriptures. Raphael Golb, the son of Norman Golb, a professor at Chicago University, was arrested in New York this month for allegedly creating online aliases and conducting a campaign of harassment against academic opponents of his father’s theories.'

Having thus raised the bar on the debate, the reply from the mainstream scholarly community is entirely appropriate:

'“Almost seventy scholars accept the statement that one of the Essenes’ groups lived in Qumran, and some say we’re all morons and only they understand,” Hanan Eshel, a professor at Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv, told the Haaretz newspaper. '

HT: Ben

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