Talk:Robert Eisenman

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John the Baptist[edit]

Literally almost every source I have ever seen on the Mandeans have explicitly stated that the Mandeans only ever referred to John the Baptist because by doing so they could get the Muslims to basically think of them as "People of the Book" and leave them alone. These sources go on to say that John the Baptist was chosen as their "link" to Judeo-Christianity because of his strong connection to baptism, a ritual the Mandaeans use for the remission of sins. This would seem to cast the entire assumption that the Mandeans were "making claims" about Jesus into at best a very dubious light, as such claims were seemingly only ever made to, as it were, keep the Muslims off their backs. In fact, the books I have seen have uniformally indicated that the Mandeans originated from a clearly non-Jewish, non-Christian setting, Gnostic Lebanon/Jordan to be exact, and that Christianity is in fact almost completely contrary to almost their entire belief system. I believe that this calls into very great question whether the statements made in the article as it currently stands should be presented in the way they are, as they seem to indicate that there was a connection between the Mandaeans and Judeo-Christianity, when almost literally every source I have ever seen seems to specifically, explicitly denounce the very possibility of there existing anything but a very late, opportunistic connection between the two, and that based solely on the advantages they received as basically fraudulently passing themselves of as "people of the book". John Carter 20:55, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

Be very careful before pursuing this thread - it would be very easy to shred you on the following counts:
  1. Anachronism. The Muslims appeared on the scene long, long after the time Eisenman's writing about: you might be able to substantiate an inheritance in the Islamic creed, but I would be astonished if someone with an avatar rooted in the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs were to be able to expound in an NPOV manner. Even here you should produce a considerable amount of supporting evidence, I feel, if you want your claims to be taken seriously.
  2. Cultural divergence. Your comments appear to be coloured by modern Occidental Christianity, and after setting that aside it would be helpful to bring this one in from a wider angle in two respects. Firstly, Herod was pretty much a Roman client at best, and puppet at worst, so much more work needs to be done developing the context of the newly-available texts against his political environment, not only of pre-Imperial Rome in his early years, the relationship of Caesar and his heirs with Ptolomaic Egypt, and finally with Augustus, but also with the various procurators and Governors, and not least with the Sanhedrin and other irregular leaders of the Jewish people. Secondly, with the pre-Byzantine roots of the Oriental Orthodox churches, some of which appear to be extremely unusual, to say the least: do not reject tales of an immortal fellowship out of hand in Cappadocia, that is a fairly common thread in mediaeval Occidental legends, for instance. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:48, 24 March 2009 (UTC)


I dispute the accuracy of this section, and since no reference has been provided, I'm removing the following material to the talk page for discussion:

"for his radical re-interpretation of the early Christian community as one imitating the Nasoraeans, who still exist today as the priests (Nasuraiya)of the Mandaeans. His theory that John the Baptist did not recognise or authorise the mission of Jesus[citation needed] backs up the history of the Mandaeans."

This statement is completely false. Eisenman does not say the early Christian community imitated the Nasoraeans, nor does he link the Nasoraeans with the Mandaeans. This is some editor's conflation or OR synthesis. What Eisenman does do repeatedly in "James the Brother of Jesus" is link early Christianity, which he sees as synonymous with the Essenes and Nazoraeans, with Shia Islam. The Naassenes were a second century gnostic group that revered the serpent in the Garden of Eden as a symbol of wisdom. Nahash (Na'as) = serpent in Hebrew. Ovadyah (talk) 15:39, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

The Massacre of the Innocents[edit]

Although the symbolism is possible, the princes were of adult years when killed. There is, however, a somewhat circular argument that painters such as Breughel invoked the symbolism as a reference to a stage in the preparation of the Philosopher's Stone, which was certainly the motivation of one of the most infamous child murderers of all time, Gilles de Rais. That in turn links to the Templar worship of Abraxas, an avatar of the Phoenician Dagon sometimes in serpentine form, which then links straight back to the Nahash point above. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:48, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

What in the world connection does Breughel, a 16th C Dutch painter, or Gilles de Rais (also known as Bluebeard) from the 15th CE have to do with a biography of R Eisenman I am sure I don't know. Stellarkid (talk) 02:22, 18 June 2009 (UTC)

Entry desperately needs editing[edit]

As fascinating as the entry may be, it's in desperate need of editing, as it is rife with POV and original research, as well as being far too windy and too little sourced. Since I'm not as knowledgeable about Prof. Eisenman or the field he works in as some WP editors must be, I encourage one of them to take it in hand. Bricology (talk) 20:35, 4 December 2009 (UTC)


The lead does not adequately summarize the article, hence the placement of that tag. Also, I note that there is no reference to the subject's false claim that one Qumran fragment was a clear and unquestionable proof of a bleeding messiah, when in fact the consensus opinion was that this "Bleeding Messiah" fragment was in fact about the "messiah" causing others to bleed. This material is referenced in the 2nd edition of VanderKam's "Dead Sea Scrolls Today." Nor does there seem to be much information about the objections to his theories. And, of course, considering that there is a proposal to rename the one extant article about a book of his to cover all his theories, which are basically consistent across books, there is a real question how much of that material should be placed in this article in the first place. John Carter (talk) 18:16, 26 July 2010 (UTC)

Mr Carter - As far as the Messiah text goes, see the publication in Wise and Eisenman, The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered, 1992, p. 24 ff. where Eisenman discusses the possible readings. The translation gives the two possibilities as well. The initial reading VanderKam objected to was by Wise, by the way, not Eisenman.Darkbloom76 (talk) 00:36, 30 July 2010 (UTC)Dennis Walker, July 2010.

Neutrality Issues[edit]

As of August 19, 2010, everything in this entry derives from either one of Eisenman's books, a book about Eisenman, a newspaper article, or some other legitimate source. All of it is verifiable and within Wikipedia guidelines to the best of my knowledge. If anything isn't footnoted that should be, I can provide one presently, but in the meantime I've taken down the neutrality tag.

About the sources used for this entry: Most details of his earlier life are available in The New Jerusalem (2007). For his theories, James the Brother of Jesus (1997) and The New Testament Code (2006) are the most detailed and most recent sources, but early works like Maccabees, Zadokites, Christians and Qumran (1983) and James the Just in the Habakkuk Pesher (1984) are also important, especially the former as it lays out his basic objections to the then-near-consensus DSS theories and lays out his alternative pretty clearly. Both were originally published by Brill but have been packaged together with some papers and translations of a few Scroll texts in a book called The Dead Sea Scrolls and the First Christians (1996). Two books primarily about Eisenman's involvement in Dead Sea Scroll controversies are Neil Asher Silberman's The Hidden Scrolls (1994) and Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh's The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception (1991). Eisenman's website - - has many of his academic papers online as pdfs.

Eisenman has been a somewhat controversial figure, but in my experience much of the criticism directed towards his theories is a bit off-base and has suffered from an unfamiliarity with his published work. For example, Oxford's Geza Vermes has published probably the best-selling translations into English of the Dead Sea Scrolls over the years in several revised editions, and in his introductory section he mentions briefly Eisenman's (putative) identifications. However, he misrepresents Eisenman on the most basic level. He writes: "Eisenman ... assigns the part of the Teacher of Righteousness to James, the brother of Jesus, keeping Paul as the Wicked Priest; in my opinion these theories [i.e. his and a few mentioned previously] fail the basic credibility test - they do not spring from, but are foisted on, the texts" (The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, 4th ed. (Penguin 1995) page xxx; cf. The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, (Penguin - Allen Lane 1997) page 21 where the wording is slightly changed but the error remains). But Eisenman never so much as hints that Paul could be the "Wicked Priest"; Eisenman suggested this would likely be Ananus ben Ananus, the High Priest in 62 CE responsible for James' trial and execution (Josephus, Antiquities xx.200). I mention this only as an example; if a well-regarded Oxford Professor misrepresents Eisenman's theory so egregiously (and publicly) in multiple editions of his work, then all the more reason to exercise caution and make sure we aren't disseminating disinformation, which is not at all what Wikipedia is about. I feel strongly that representations of what actually constitutes Eisenman's theories should be sourced to Eisenman's published writings and not second- or third-hand sources, especially given the contentious nature of this field of study. --Darkbloom76 (talk) 22:25, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

It wouldn't be disinformation to allow 10% of the article space - which at the moment reads like a eulogy - to a representative selection of scholarly reception for these theories. In ictu oculi (talk) 10:07, 18 May 2011 (UTC)
Eisenman obviously wrote his own article on Wikipedia! OMG Why I'm not surprised? I'm awaiting his autohagiography! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:41, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

Eisenman Theories[edit]

Eisenman's theories are rejected by mainstream scholarship and embraced by New Agers. That's Eisenman in a nutshell. His theories regarding James are as eccentric as Allegro's theories concerning magic mushrooms. Lung salad (talk) 13:46, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

Perhaps it would be good to incorporate some of the criticisms from and in this article.Natschil (talk) 00:44, 12 April 2013 (UTC)

New information[edit]

I have to think that the comments of his colleagues regarding Eisenman and his theories are deserving of mention. In "Dead Sea Scrolls - Biblical Scholar clarifies points in story about Him" in The Seattle Times, February 6, 1992, R. Michael Francis Redmon includes the following statement, reproduced verbatim: "The quotation that I most differ with was he one attributed to me that states the "Israeli(s)" are mad at Robert Eisenman for releasing the scrolls. Especially disturbing is the way it was juxtaposed with the remark that the dig permits did get issued on time. The terms "Israeli" or Israeli government are inaccurate designations when referring to the people who may be adverse to Eisenman's work. The statement must have evolved out of my reference to the Israeli Antiquites Authority, and in particular the Dead Sea Scroll Oversight Committee. These people are annoyed by scholars such as Robert Eisenman... An example of the sentiments among these scholars appears in the January 1992 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review. On page 65 there is a quote by Magen Broshi, a member of the Dead Sea Scroll Oversight Committee. He accuses Eisenman of being "a very minor scientist" who made sensationalist statements that were "all lies."" If a Jewish member of the DSS Oversight Committee, like Broshi, described Eisenman as "a very minor scientist," considering the degree of Eisenman's involvement in that field, I have to believe that description merits inclusion.

Actually, Broshi, himself an archaeologist and at one time curator of the Dead Sea Scrolls Museum, has published several comments regarding Eisenman, almost all of which are decidedly negative. In the article "Scrolls Primers" in The Jerusalem Post, January 20, 1995, he reviewed the works Responses to 101 Questions on the Dead Sea Scrolls by J. Fitzmyer, et. al, The Dead Sea Scrolls Today, by James VanderKam, and The Hidden Scrolls by N. A. Silberman. He says of the first two, "Fitzmyer and VanderKam are not only superb scholars but also well-balanced spokesmen for the sane majority. Sane is a strange adjective when applied to a scholar, but the Dead Sea Scrolls attracted many weird, not to say cranky, theories. No less than a dozen theories were suggested, all mutually exclusive; which is to say that if one was right, eleven would have to be wrong." He goes on to say, "If the first two books were distinguished by their scholarship, Silberman deserves praise for his courage. Silberman had the pluck to choose as his guru Robert Eisenman, a man the scholarly community regards as ignorant (as he himself admits: "I never read their works"), vain, a plagiarist and author of cranky theories. He is also the man who spread the rumor that the Vatican and Israel were in cahoots to suppress the publication of the Scrolls. Silberman's book elaborates on Eisenman's theories... For him, they [Qumran community, Zealots, and early Christianity] were all part of the same movement, and the boundary between them may have been entirely unclear. As a matter of fact, there is not a shred of evidence to support this appealing theory." So, even this author, who is presumably, as a Jew, not opposed to the theory on religious grounds, and goes so far as to call that theory "appealing", says there is "not a shred of evidence" to support Eisenman's core theory. John Carter (talk) 00:43, 21 March 2012 (UTC)

Release of the Dead Sea Scrolls[edit]

The section "Release of the Dead Sea Scrolls" is probably slightly biased. The article [Dead Sea Scrolls] suggests Eisenman's involvement was smaller than his article suggests, as does — Preceding unsigned comment added by Natschil (talkcontribs) 00:50, 12 April 2013 (UTC)

But it is a fact that Eisenman was given photographs of the unpublished material, which he provided for the volumes published by BAS. Eisenman and Michael Wise, with students from U. of Chicago, were working on the fragments when the concordance reconstruction was released. Then Eisenman began the process of releasing what he had, both in the fascimile edition and in the book "The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered." Neil Asher Silberman's "The Hidden Scrolls: Christianity, Judaism, and the War for the Dead Sea Scrolls" (1994) is a good account of this period. Darkbloom76 (talk) 21:27, 2 July 2013 (UTC)

Carbon dating the Scrolls[edit]

I believe it is incorrect to say that Libby used AMS Carbon dating in 1950 as opposed to an earlier method. AMS is a more modern method and is considered more accurate and uses less material. Darkbloom76 (talk) 21:20, 2 July 2013 (UTC)

when still a "moveable feast"[edit]

when still a "moveable feast" -- what is the meaning of this phrase? It seems extraneous. Raquel Fitleigh (talk) 02:14, 16 August 2013 (UTC)