Western biblical scholars have long discussed and debated the work of biblical scholars living in Israel, amid the scorching deserts of the Middle East. Now a prominent expert disputes that one of those scholars doesn't exist at all - a claim that has shaken the bedrock of biblical scholarship.

Rachel Elior, who nearly destroyed the academic universe as we know it last week when she argued that the ascetic and celibate Jewish community known as the Essenes were a myth fabricated by the first-century historian Josephus, is herself a myth fabricated by journalists desperate for an Eastertime biblical scandal, according to prominent expert Alan Smithee.

The news media and academic world were shaken to their respective cores this week amid reports that a scholar named Rachel Elior, supposedly an professor of Jewish Philosophy and Jewish Mystical Thought at the Hebrew University, attributed authorship of the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Saducees, or Zadokite priests. A key point of the argument was that the Scrolls themselves do not refer to "Essenes." Likewise, the reported scholar allegedly told media outlets that Essenes are not mentioned in Jewish texts of the time.

"That was the dead giveaway," said Smithee, who has set the cat among the academic pigeons once again with his shocking and astounding theory that Elior does not exist. "Because if you look closely at the work of this supposed ?Rachel Elior,' you note that the words ?Rachel Elior' never appear. Likewise, while there are several books that some publishers have credited this Elior with writing, she does not really appear in the scholarly texts written at the time. Historians do not describe meeting her, her personal habits, her preferences, her food preferences, or the ...

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