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The Ellen White Research Project: Exposing the Subtle Attack on the Bible's Authority
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Color Key

Material that is an exact, word-for-word match of the alleged source.

Words that are a match of the source, but also of biblical material.

Material that is represented in Rea's comparison by an ellipsis.

Material dropped from the beginning or end of the paragraph of the alleged source by Rea.

Material clipped from the beginning or end of a sentence in Rea's comparison, without giving the reader any indication of such. (Either a capital letter or a period appears where it should not, hiding the fact that material is missing.)

An Analysis of the Literary Dependency of Desire of Ages, chapter 5

Some critics accuse Ellen White of plagiarizing in the writing of Desire of Ages. Did she really? Walter Rea thought so, according to his book, The White Lie. Below is an analysis of his comparisons as found in his book's appendix for chapter 6, pages 321-330. Many thanks to David J. Conklin for providing the following analysis for us.

It has been noted by students of plagiarism that one can make a work look plagiarized when it is not by carefully using ellipses and discarding all the material that is different. What we want to do is determine whether Rea did a fair analysis, or whether his comparisons distort reality. Accordingly, we have color coded the text so that you, the reader, can easily come to your own conclusion.

What makes such an analysis particularly challenging is the fact that sometimes an apparent similarity can be the result of both the source and Desire of Ages quoting the same Bible passage. Two works following the same biblical material can also result in the same topics being discussed in the same order. Thus, great care must be exercised when arriving at a conclusion.

Paragraphs 1 & 2 (analysis of p. 321 of White Lie)

Desire of Ages (1898)
Ellen G. White, p. 50
The Life of Christ (1863)
William Hanna, pp. 32, 33
The Dedication
This chapter is based on Luke 2:21-38.

About forty days after the birth of Christ, Joseph and Mary took Him to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord, and to offer sacrifice. This was according to the Jewish law, and as man's substitute Christ must conform to the law in every particular. He had already been subjected to the rite of circumcision, as a pledge of His obedience to the law.

As an offering for the mother, the law required a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering.1 But the law provided that if the parents were too poor to bring a lamb, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering, the other for a sin offering,2 might be accepted.

Forty days after the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary carried the infant up to Jerusalem. There was a double object in this visit. Mary had to present the offering which the Jewish law required at the hands of every mother when the days of her purification were accomplished. This offering, in the case of all whose circumstances enabled them to present it, was to consist of a lamb of the first year for a burnt-offering, a young pigeon or a turtle-dove for a sin-offering.1 With that consideration for the poor which marks so many of the Mosaic ordinances, it was provided that if the mother were not able to furnish a lamb, a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons were to be accepted, the one for the burnt-offering, and the other for the sin-offering.2 That such was the offering which Joseph and Mary presented to the priest, carried with it an unmistakable evidence of the poverty of their estate. Besides discharging this duty, Mary had at the same time to dedicate her infant son as being a first-born child to the Lord, and to pay the small sum fixed as the price of his redemption.

And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; . . . And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.2 (Luke 2:22-24)

And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering,1 unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest: . . . . And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering:2 and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean. (Lev. 12:6-8)

Observations: 18 words out of 131 (13.5%) in Desire of Ages are found in Hanna but not in Scripture. Coincidence, plagiarism, or inconsequential?


  1. Did Ellen White copy from Hanna or did she copy the Bible? Since she included the word "and" from the King James Version text and Hanna did not, this suggests that she copied her wording straight from Scripture.
  2. Hanna inserted a hyphen in "turtledove," "burnt offering," and "sin offering," something neither Ellen White nor the King James Version does. This likewise suggests that she copied her wording from Scripture rather than Hanna.

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