Biography and Publications
Russell Gmirkin, general biography
See also the Featured Author profile at Routledge.

General Background

W.V. Pennell, "WELL-KEPT SECRET OF KIDNAPPING OF PARTY OF FOREIGNERS NOW REVEALED:  Russian Women and Children Seized When Rich Caravan Plundered," Peking and TientsinSunday Times,, April 30, 1933).
My grandfather was Constantine Gmirkin, a prominent White Russian exile who served in the government of Sinkiang Province in China from 1920 to 1934, when he was executed by Stalinist forces in an agreement with the Chinese govenment in return for military assistance in suppressing a local rebellion in Central Asia led by the bloodthirtsy warlord General Ma Zhong-yong. See Aitchen K. Wu, Turkestan Tumult  (London: Methuen, 1940). The rest of the family managed to escape to Shanghai after various adventures. 
My father was Vasia Gmirkin, whom journalist Tom Mangold described as "in his time the closest thing the CIA had to James Bond" (Cold Warrior: [New York: Simon and Schurster, 1991] page 261). He recruited Soviet defectors and was responsible for the US acquiring night vision technology, among other intelligence coups. His adventures in the CIA included being kidnapped by his KGB counterpart in Baghdad and infiltrating a terrorist cell in Italy, But I knew nothing of his career in the CIA until my high school years and later.
I made several mathematical discoveries in high school and flirted with a career in mathematics. In lieu of my senior year of high school, I attended a local college where I tutored calculus and physics. 
For reasons now mysterious even to me, I subsequently elected to enroll in Ambassador College, a small bible college with a beautiful campus in Pasadena, CA, where I could pursue my interests in ancient history, archaeology and biblical literature, They encouraged intense daily study of scripture, which was their first mistake. I had an unfortunate habit of asking awkward questions and pursuing independent lines of research. Combined with my penchant for setting off black powder rockets with my friends, sword-fighting on rooftops, and carbonating swimming pools with CO2 tanks, the administration and I mutually agreed that I was not a good match.
Along with forming lifelong friendships with my adventuresome buddies, my best experience in college was falling for a beautiful coed named Susan, getting married, and having a wonderful, talented  son named Michael. Susan and I had a great marriage but a perfect divorce, amicably parting ways to each pursue our own dreams, and sharing joint custody of Michael for fifteen years, until he entered university. Michael and I are like twins born twenty-five years apart, and he has been a joy at every age. 
When Michael was in late high school, I had the great fortune to meet Carolyn Tracy at a writers conference at the Sylvia Beach Hotel hosted by the Oregon Writer's Colony, of which I was a board member at the time. Carolyn was an incredibly talented writer, actress, professional songwriter, singer and comedienne who had written and starred in plays, musicals and dinner theater. A daughter of a local detective, a creative genius, and a wonderful conversationalist, she is the most fascinating peson I have ever met. We instantly fell in love and I fell in love with he again when I read her novel Pulling Taffy. We have lived happily together ever since, twenty beautiful years.
With the support of my family and my friends in the academic world, these last twenty years have been extremely productive for me as a researcher and writer on ancient history. I have made important contributions both on the Dead Sea Scrolls and on the date and circumstances of the composition of the Pentateuch and Hebrew Bible. My research on biblical literature has generally corroborated the insights of the Copenhagen School on the late date and Greek influences of the Hebrew Bible. I originated the theory that the creation of the Pentateuch took place at Alexandria around 270 BC drawing on Greek sources found in the Great Library. I also originated the notion of a collaborative composition of the Pentateuch by Jewish and Samaritan scholars, priests, poets, story-tellers and legislators present at Alexandria in 270 BC. In my latest book I develop evidence for the subsequent formation and authorization of the Hebrew Bible as a whole at Jerusalem following the literary program for the creation of a national literature found in Plato's Laws


Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus:
Hellenistic Histories and the Date of the Pentateuch
​(New York-London: T&T Clark, 2006)

​Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus argues that the Hebrew Pentateuch was composed in its entirety about 273-272 BCE by Jewish scholars at Alexandria that later traditions credited with the Septuagint translation of the Pentateuch into Greek. The primary evidence is literary dependence of Gen. 1-11 on Berossus' Babyloniaca (278 BCE) and of the Exodus story on Manetho's Aegyptiaca (c. 285-280 BCE), and the geo-political data contained in the Table of Nations. A number of indications point to a provenance of Alexandria, Egypt for at least some portions of the Pentateuch. That the Pentateuch, drawing on literary sources found at the Great Library of Alexandria, was composed at almost the same date as the Septuagint translation, provides compelling evidence for some level of communication and collaboration between the authors of the Pentateuch and the Septuagint scholars at Alexandria's Museum.
This widely reviewed book is found in over 1000 libraries worldwide (193 hardback, 836 electronic edition) and was included in the 10-volume Pentateuch History and Origins Collection from Logos Bible Software advertized as “contain[ing] the most important recent literature on the Pentateuch.” (  

Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible
​(London-New York: Routledge, 2017)

This book compares the ancient law collections of the Ancient Near East, the Greeks and the Pentateuch to determine the legal antecedents for the biblical laws. A striking number of legal parallels are found to be with Athenian laws, and specifically with those found in Plato's Laws of ca. 350 BCE. Constitutional features in biblical law similarly mostly agree with Athens and with Plato's Laws. Greek parallels are also noted for specific law collections, such as Ten Commandments and the Deuteronomic law code. The synthesis of narrative and legal content is also shown to be compatible with Greek literature. Finally, this book argues that the creation of the Hebrew Bible itself took place according to the program for creating a national ethical literature found in Plato's Laws, reinforcing the importance of this specific text to the authors of the Torah and Hebrew Bible in the early Hellenistic Era.


“The War Scroll and Roman Weaponry Reconsidered,” Dead Sea Discoveries 3 (1996): 89-129.

This article did a side-by-side comparison of the weaponry, tactics and military formations found in the War Scroll from Qumran (1QM) and those of the Roman legions before and after the reforms of Marius in 104-103 BC, showing that the War Scroll reflects Roman military practices of the second century BC, not the first century bc as argued by Yigael Yadin in his critical edition of the text. Thirty years after its publication, it is still the second most requested article from Dead Sea Discoveries on JSTOR.

“Historical Allusions in the War Scroll,” Dead Sea Discoveries 5 (1998): 172-214.

This article argues that the older portions of the War Scroll (1QM 10-19) date from the early, guerrilla phase of the Maccabean War in 166-164 BC and that the later columns (1QM 1-9) comprise the official war manual of the Maccabean army in its professional phase after the restoration of the temple in Dec., 164 BC. , not the first century BC as argued by Yigael Yadin in his critical edition of the text. Thirty years after its publication, it is still the second most requested article from Dead Sea Discoveries on JSTOR. 
A discussion of the above two articles comprised a full third of the book Jean Danielou, The War Texts: 1QM and Related Manuscripts (Companion to the Qumran Scrolls 6; London-New York: T&T Clark, 2004).

“The War Scroll, the Hasidim, and the Maccabean Conflict,” in Lawrence Schiffman et al (eds.), The Dead Sea Scrolls Fifty Years After their Discovery: Proceedings of the Jerusalem Congress, July 20-25, 1997 (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 2000). 

This article contains my presentation at the prestigious six-day conference on the Dead Sea Scrolls held at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem in 1997, at which I was an invited speaker. 

"Tools Slippage and the Tel Dan Inscription," Scandanavian Journal of the Old Testament​ 16 (2002): 293-302.

This article called into question the authenticity of the Tel Dan Inscription based on my inspection of the inscription on display at the Israel Museum in 1997. There are three types of phenomena on the edges of the pieces of this inscription that may indicate it was inscribed after it was broken into several pieces. (1) Some inscribed lines of letters that reach the edge appear to continue onto the broken surface. (2) Other inscribed cuts that reach an edge that has a sharp angle appear to break through as the line approaches the thin edge. (3) Some letters that approach the edge stop short. The Tel Dan Inscription has never undergone the close scientific examination my article called for, leaving its authenticity in doubt. 

“Greek Evidence for the Hebrew Bible,” in Thomas L. Thompson and Philippe Wajdenbaum (eds.), The Bible and Hellenism: Greek Influence on Jewish and Early Christian Literature (Durham, UK: Acumen Publishing, 2014), 56-60.  

This article discusses the various theories scholars have proposed to explain the apparent parallels between Greek literature and the Hebrew Bible. It was once believed that Moses must have influenced Plato and other Greek writers, based on a belief in the great antiquity of the biblical writings. Scholars have recently come to realize that the Hebrew Bible might be far younger than previously assumed, opening the possibility that Greek writings influenced the biblical text. This article affirms that the first evidence for the Hebrew Bible is the Greek Septuagint translation of 270 BC and surveys evidence that points to the use of Greek sources from the Great Library of Alexandria in the Old Testament as late as 270 BC. 

“Greek Genres in the Hebrew Bible,” in Ingrid Hjelm and Thomas L. Thompson (eds.), Biblical Interpretation Beyond Historicity (Changing Perspectives in Old Testament Studies 7; London: Routledge, 2016).

My presentation as an invited speaker at a conference hosted by the University of Copenhagen in 2013. surveyed Greek and Hellenistic literary genres that are easily detected in biblical writings and are without Ancient Near Eastern parallel. These include genres of narrative writing (apologetic historiography, foundation stories), legal writing (constitutions, combined civil and sacred law collections, collections of ethical commandments, hortatory legal introductions and laws with motive clauses in Plato’s Laws), prophetic writing (oracles against the nations), plays (Job) and erotic poetry (Song of Songs).