Norman Golb

Ludwig Rosenberger Professor of Jewish History and Civilization

Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University, 1954.
Teaching at Chicago since 1963.

Special Interests

History of the Jews, Judaeo-Arabic Studies, Hebrew Manuscript Study (particularly Dead Sea Scrolls and Cairo Genizah MSS).

Norman Golb, born in Chicago in 1928, received his earlier education there and, in 1954, his Ph.D. degree in Judaic and Semitic studies from Johns Hopkins University ( Baltimore).

During his student years he held several fellowships, including the Cyrus Adler Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship at Dropsie College (Philadelphia) and the Warburg Fellowship for Research in Judaic and Semitic Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1955-57). Since then he has been a visiting faculty member at the University of Wisconsin (1957-58), Harvard University (1966), and Tel Aviv University (1969-70). From 1958 until 1963 he was a faculty member of the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, joining the faculty of the University of Chicago in July of the latter year.

Dr. Golb has received research awards from the American Philosophical Society, the American Council of Learned Societies and the Littauer Foundation. He was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1964, in this capacity conducting research at various European libraries. A second Guggenheim Fellowship was awarded to him in 1966. In 1970 he was awarded a research grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities. He has spent many academic seasons working on the Cairo Genizah documents of Cambridge University Library. He was a research associate of the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem in 1969-70, and in 1970 was elected to a visiting fellowship at Clare Hall ( Cambridge University), of which he is now a life member.

His discoveries include the identification of Obadiah the Proselyte as the author of the oldest Hebrew musical manuscript (12th century); the recovery of a Genizah document describing a prominent European convert to Judaism of the beginning of the 11th century; the uncovering of the earliest extant legal record of the Jews of Sicily, and of an autograph manuscript of Khazarian Jews of Kiev; the identification of a Hebrew document dealing with the First Crusade; and the discovery of various manuscripts pertaining to the Jews of medieval Normandy. His studies have appeared in many scholarly journals both here and abroad. He is the author of Spertus College of Judaica Yemenite Manuscripts, describing a large group of Hebrew and Judaeo-Arabic texts now located in Chicago. His Hebrew work Toledot hayehudim be'ir rouen bimé habenayim (History and Culture of the Jews of Medieval Rouen) was published in Israel in the spring of 1976 (Dvir Publishing House, Tel Aviv); this has been followed by numerous studies interpreting archaeological discoveries made in the summer of 1976 and in 1982 in the Street of the Jews at Rouen. A book by Jacques Klein of Paris describing Golb’s discoveries on the Jews of Normandy appeared in France in 2006.

In 1980 he published a study formulating the hypothesis that the Dead Sea Scrolls originated not with a sect living near the Dead Sea, but with the Jews of Jerusalem; and in 1982 a book (jointly with Prof. O. Pritsak of Harvard) entitled Khazarian Hebrew Documents of the Tenth Century (Cornell University Press).

In 1985, upon publication of his book, Les Juifs de Rouen au Moyen Age, Dr. Golb was awarded the Grand Medal of the City of Rouen. In 1987 he was granted the degree Docteur Honoris Causa (Histoire) by the University of Rouen, and was awarded the Medal of the Region of Haute Normandie. In 1988 he was named by the University of Chicago as the first holder of the Ludwig Rosenberger Professorship in Jewish History and Civilization. In 2006 he was granted “Cittadinanza onorario per meriti scientifici” by the commune of Oppido Lucano ( Basilicata) for his reasearches on Obadiah the Proselyte (11 th/12 th Cent.) and related topics.

In the early nineties Dr. Golb took a leading role in the freeing of the Dead Sea Scrolls for study by the scholarly community, and in organizing an international congress on the scrolls under the auspices of the New York Academy of Sciences and the Oriental Institute. His Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?The Search for the Secret of Qumran was published by Scribner in January, 1995 and by Michael O’€™Mara in England in 1996, and has since appeared in several languages. His work entitled The Jews of Medieval Normandy - A Social and Intellectual History, was published by Cambridge University Press in April, 1998..

Dr. Golb is married and resides in the University of Chicago neighborhood. He serves at the University as Professor of Hebrew and Judaeo-Arabic Studies in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and the Oriental Institute, and is Chairman of the University's Aronberg Judaica Lectureship Committee. He is a Fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research and the founder of the Society for Judaeo-Arabic Studies.

See Directory of American Scholars, 8th ed. (1982), Vol. 1, p. 272; Encyclopaedia Judaica Decennial Volume (1982), p. 265; Who's Who in Israel, 20th ed. (1985-86), p.128; Who’s Who in America , 2004 edition, vol. 1, p. 1908 and sqq.



  • Spertus College of Judaica Yemenite Manuscripts (Chicago: S.C.J. Press, 1972): xv + 116 pp., including 90 plates, indexes. (Now published as internet edition.)
  • Toledot hayehudim be'ir rouen bimé habenayim (History and Culture of the Jews of Medieval Rouen) (Tel Aviv: Dvir Publishing House, 1976): xii + 284 pp., 35 plates, indexes.
  • (with O. Pritsak) Khazarian Hebrew Documents of the Tenth Century (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1982): xvi + 166 pp., 9 illustrations, map, indexes. Russian translation, Gesharim Press ( Moscow and Jerusalem), 1997. second Russian edition, Moscow, 2003.
  • Les Juifs de Rouen au Moyen Age–Portrait d'une culture oubliée (Publications de l’Université de Rouen no. 66, Rouen 1985): xxix + 475 pp. + 48 plates, indexes.
  • (with M. Wise, et al., eds.) Methods of Investigation of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Khirbet Qumran Site: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Vol. 722 (New York, 1994).
  • Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?–The Search for the Secret of Qumran (New York: Scribner, 1995): xvi + 446 pp. + 14 illustrations, 7 maps. *
  • (ed.) Judaeo-Arabic Studies: Proceedings of the Founding Conference of the Society for Judaeo-Arabic Studies (Harwood Academic Press, U.K., 1997).
  • The Jews of Medieval Normandy–A Social and Intellectual History (Cambridge University Press, 1998): 621 pp., 19 maps, 69 figs., indexes.

*Translations and other editions of Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls? are listed at the bottom.


  • "The Hebrew Translation of Averroes’ Fasl al-maqal": Part I: Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research, XXV ( 1956), pp. 91- 113; Part II: ibid., XXVI (1957), pp. 41-64.
  • "Literary and Doctrinal Aspects of the Damascus Covenant in the Light of Karaite Literature": Jewish Quarterly Review, XLVII (1957), pp. 354-74.
  • "Sixty Years of Genizah Research": Judaism: A Quarterly Journal, VI (1957), pp. 3-16. Dutch translation: "De Schatten van de Genizah," Nieuw Israelietisch Weekblad, issue of March and April 1957. Spanish translation: "Sesenta años de investigaciones en los manuscritos de la Gueniza," Davar 88 (Jan. -March 1961), pp. 27-48.
  • "The Dietary Laws of the Damascus Covenant in Relation to those of the Karaites": Journal of Jewish Studies, VIII (1957), pp. 51-69.
  • "Genizah Research in Jerusalem": Ben-Zwi Institute for Research on Jewish Communities in the Middle East: Studies, No. 2 (1957), pp. 11-19.
  • "The Second World Congress of Jewish Studies": Judaism: A Quarterly Journal, VII (1958), pp. 1-7.
  • "Legal Documents from the Cairo Genizah": Jewish Social Studies, XX (1958), pp. 17-46.
  • "Ben Meir and his Calendar Controversy with Saadia Gaon" (Hebrew): Encyclopaedia Hebraica, IX (1959), cols. 154-55.
  • "Who Were the Magariya?": Journal of the American Oriental Society, LXXX (1960), pp. 347-59.
  • "The Qumran Covenanters and the Later Jewish Sects": Journal of Religion, XLI (1961), pp. 38-50.
  • "Relationship of Qumran Sectarianism to that of Later Jewish Sects": American Philosophical Society Year Book 1960 (Philadelphia 1961), pp. 488-91.
  • "Early Medieval Jewry": Jewish Heritage, VI (1963), pp. 30-37.
  • "A Study of a Proselyte who Fled to Egypt at the Beginning of the 11th Century" (Hebrew): I. Ben-Zwi Memorial Volume/Sefunoth Vlll (Jerusalem 1964), pp. 87-104.
  • "Notes on the Conversion of Prominent European Christians to Judaism During the Eleventh Century": Journal of Jewish Studies, XVI (1965), pp. 69-74.
  • "On an Alleged Signature of Maimonides" (Hebrew): Tarbiz, XXIV (1965), pp. 289-90.
  • "Obadiah the Proselyte: Scribe of a Unique Hebrew Manuscript with Lombardic Neumes": Journal of Religion, XLV (1965), pp. 153-56.
  • "The Topography of the Jews of Medieval Egypt": Part I: Journal of Near Eastern Studies, XXIV (1965), pp. 251-7(); Part II: ibid., XXXIII (January 1974), pp. 116-49.
  • Hebraica at the University of Chicago, A Catalogue (Chicago 1965).
  • "The Esoteric Practices of the Jews of Fatimid Egypt": Amer. Philosophical Society Year Book 1965 (Philadelphia 1966), pp. 533-35.
  • "The Contents of the Genizah": Perspectives on Jewish Learning, I (Chicago 1965), pp. 71-85.
  • "Concerning Obadiah the Proselyte and His Musical Work" (Hebrew): Tarbiz, XXXV (1965), pp. 1 -63.
  • "Torah": Encyclopaedia Brittanica, 1966.
  • "New Light on the Persecution of French Jews at the Time of the First Crusade":Proceedings of the Amer. Academy for Jewish Research XXXIV (1966), pp. 1-63.
  • "Aspects of the Social and Religious Background of the Life of the Jews of Medieval Egypt": Jewish Medieval and Renaissance Studies, ed. A. Altmann (Cambridge, Mass. 1967), pp. 1- 18.
  • "The Music of Obadiah the Proselyte and his Conversion": Journal of Jewish Studies, XVIII (1967), pp. 1-18.
  • "Le toponyme hébraique MNYW et son identification avec Monieux (Vaucluse)": Revue internationale d’onomastique, XX (1968), pp. 241-54.
  • "The Jews of Medieval Rouen": Amer. Philosophical Society Year Book 1969 (Philadelphia 1970), pp. 557-58.
  • "Monieux": Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, CXIII (February 1969), pp. 67-94.
  • "A Judaeo-Arabic Court Document of Syracuse, A.D. 1020": Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Winter-Spring 1973 (Seele Memorial Volume) = Vol. XXXII, pp. 105-23.
  • "Dove avvene la conversione al Giudaismo del proselito Obadiah?": Antiche Civilita lucane (Galatina, 1975), pp. 217-225.
  • "In Search of the Original Home of the Great Mahazor of Amsterdam": Studia Rosenthalia, X (Summer 1976), pp. 195-211.
  • "The Forgotten Jewish History of Medieval Rouen": Archeology XXX (1977), pp. 25463, 314-25.
  • "Localisation de l’ancienne académie juive de Rouen et de la Synagogue monumentale": Monuments historiques de France, 1977, pp. 17- 19.
  • "L’edition de nos Tossafot Ġ Rouen Ġ la fin du XIIIe siècle": Revue des études juives, CXXXVI (1977), pp. 545-49.
  • "Exceptionnelle découverte Ġ Rouen: une école hébraique de XIIe siècle" et "L’academie juive de Rouen dans les manuscrits du Moyen Age": Archéologia, no. 129 (April 1979), pp. 8-34.
  • "The Problem of Origin and Identification of the Dead Sea Scrolls": Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, CXXIV (Feb. 1980), pp. 1-24.
  • "Megillat obadiah hager" ("The Autograph Memoirs of Obadiah the Proselyte"): S.D. Goitein Jubilee Volume = Folklore Research Center Studies VI, ed. S. Morag et al. (Jerusalem: The Magnes Press, 1980), Hebrew volume, pp. 77-107.
  • "Le monument juif": L’Oeil, nos. 312-313 (July-August 1981), pp. 76-77.
  • "Nature et destination du Monument hébraique découvert Ġ Rouen": Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research, XLVIII (1981), pp. 100-82.
  • "Rouen": Encyclopaedia Judaica Decennial Volume 1973-1982 (Jerusalem 1983), pp. 530-31.
  • "Aspects of Geographical Knowledge among Jews of the Earlier Middle Ages": Popoli e paesi cultura alto medievale (Settimane di Studio del Centro Italiano di Studi sull’alto Medioevo XXIX), vol. I (Spoleto 1983), pp. 175-211.
  • "A Marriage Document from Wardunia de-Baghdad": Journal of Near Eastern Studies XLIII (1984), pp. 151-156.
  • "Les Juifs de Norrnandie Ġ l’Epoque d’Anselme": Etudes Anselmiennes, IVe session: Les Mutations socio-culturelles au tournant des Xle-XII siècles (Colloque International du CNRS no. 611, Paris 1984), pp. 147-160.
  • "Who Hid the Dead Sea Scrolls?": Biblical Archeologist 48 (June 1985), pp. 68-82.
  • "Les Ecoles rabbiniques en France pendant le Moyen Age": Revue de l’histoire des Religions CCII 3/1985, pp. 243-265.
  • "Les manuscrits de la Mer Morte–une nouvelle approache du probleme de leur origine": Annales–Economies, Sociétés, Civilisations (1985), no. 5. pp. 1133-1149.
  • "Nouvelles observations sur le quartier juif médiéval de Rouen": Etudes normands, no. 3, 1986, pp. 61-88.
  • "Addendum to PAAJR XLVII (1981), pp. 101-182": Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research LIII (1986), pp. 71-89.
  • "Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?": The Sciences, Vol. 27, no. 3 (May/June 1987), pp. 40-49. Polish translation: Przeglad powszechny 9/817/89. pp. 294-312.
  • "Réponse Ġ la ‘Note’ de E.-M. Laperrousaz": Annales ESC, 1987, no. 6, pp. 1313-1320.
  • "Jewish Proselytism–A Phenomenon in the Religious History of Early Medieval Europe" (The Tenth Annual Rabbi Louis Feinberg Memorial Lecture, University of Cincinnati), 49 pp., Cincinnati, 1988.
  • "The Dead Sea Scrolls–A New Perspective": The American Scholar, vol. 58, no. 2 (Spring, 1989), pp. 177-207.
  • "The Dead Sea Scrolls–An Exchange (Reponse to John Trever)": The American Scholar, Vol. 58, no. 4 (Autumn 1989), pp. 628-632.
  • "Rouen au Moyen Age–Remarques sur sa Nomenclature hébraique": Revue de l’histoire des Religions CCVI-3 (1989), pp. 283-90.
  • "Les Juifs de Rouen: Une note critique": Revue historique, vol. 231, no. 1 (1989), pp. 197-212.
  • "Khirbet Qumran and the Manuscripts of the Judaean Wilderness: Observations on the Logic of their Investigation": Journal of Near Eastern Studies, vol. 49, no. 2 (Spring 1990), pp. 103-114.
  • "The Freeing of the Scrolls and Its Aftermath": The Qumran Chronicle, Vol. 2, no. 1 (Dec. 1992), pp. 3-25.
  • "The Qumran-Essene Hypothesis: A Fiction of Scholarship": Christian Century, Vol. 109, no. 36 (Dec. 9, 1992), pp. 1138-1143.
  • "Scroll Origins: An Exchange on the Qumran Hypothesis": Christian Century, Vol. 110, no. 10 (March 24, 1993), pp. 329-332 (response to J. A. Fitzmyer).
  • "Die Entdeckungen in der Wüste Judäas–Neue Erklärungsversuche": in J. B. Bauer et al., Qumran–ein Symposion (Grazer theologische Studien 15, Graz 1993), pp. 87-116. (English version: "The Major Anomalies in the Qumran-Sectarian Theory and their Resolution," The Qumran Chronicle, Vol. 2, no. 3, June 1993, pp. 161—182.)
  • "The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Ethics of Museology": Aspen Institute Quarterly, Vol 6, no. 2 (Spring 1994), pp. 79—98.
  • "The Dead Sea Scrolls and pre-Tannaitic Judaism," in Cambridge History of Judaism, Vol. 3 (1999), pp. 822-851.
  • “Exploring the Cairo Genizah for New Light on the History of the Jews of in Medieval Europe,” in J. Lassner (ed.), Cairo’s Ben Ezra Synagopgue (Spertus Museum, Chicago 2001), pp. 25-40.
  • The Value of Hebrew Manuscripts for Historical Research, with Special Reference to the Khazars” (Russian), in Khazars (Jews and Slavs, Vol. 16 (in Russian), ed. V. Petrukhin et al., Moscow 2005), pp. 483-502.
  • “ La Conversione de Giovanni-Ovadiah al giudaismo nel suo contesto storico, con particolare riferimento ai documenti della Genizah del Cairo.” in A. de Rosa & M. Perani (eds.), Giovanni-Ovadiah da Oppido, proselito, viaggiatore e musicista dell’etĠnormanna (Atti del convegno Internazionale Oppido Lucano 28-30 marzo 2004, Giuntina [ Firenze], 2005), pp. 67-93.
  • “Le Memorie autografe di Ovadiah il Proselito da Oppido Lucano e la Lettere di Baruk ben Yitzhaq di Aleppo — Introduzione e versione italiana” in Giovanni-Ovadiah daOppido…., pp. 245-273.

In preparation:

  • The Jews of Medieval Reims
  • The Correspondence of Hasdai in Shaprut and Joseph of the Khazars (Vol. II of Khazarian Hbrew Documents of the Tenth Century ).
  • The Colophons of the Hebrew Manuscripts in the Bibliotheca Palatina ( Parma)

On-line Current Publications


Translations and other editions of Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?

QUMRAN: Wer schrieb die Schriftrollen von toten Meer? (Hamburg: Hoffmann und Campe, 1994).

Dutch translation: Tirion Press, 1996.

Portuguese translation: Imago Editore, 1997.

French translation: Librairie Plon, 1998.

Japanese translation: Shoeisha Publishers, 1998.

British Commonwealth edition: Michael O'Mara  Books (London), 1995.

Book-of-the-Month Club/History Book Club edition, 1995.

Quality Paperback Book Club edition, 1995.

Touchstone Press paperback edition, 1996.