Ellen G. White Prophet for Today?
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Color Key

Words that are exactly the same in both Ellen White's book and the alleged source.

Words that are similar, not exactly the same.

Words that are the same or similar, but which appear to be copied from the Bible.

The actual comparisons found in Cleveland's book

Inadequate use of ellipses, and changed capitalization or wording.

Borrowing from Conybeare and Howson: An Analysis

Critic Sydney Cleveland, a former Seventh-day Adventist minister, accuses Ellen White of plagiarizing her book, Sketches from the Life of Paul, from a book by the British authors Conybeare and Howson entitled Life and Epistles of Saint Paul.

In Appendix A of his book, White-Washed, Cleveland presents 21 "brief examples of Ellen White copying from Conybeare and Howson." He invites us "to verify this evidence" for ourselves, and this we attempt to do in this series of pages.

The possibility exists that we missed something in our analysis. If any of our readers find words that should have been highlighted that aren't, please let us know. As it is, we have highlighted similar wording that Cleveland missed in order to make his case as good as possible.

Distortion #1: In the Public Domain

It appears to us that Sydney Cleveland distorted the picture of what happened in a number of ways. We'll note a distortion at the top of each page before presenting you with the evidence as it really is.

On this page we'll mention the fact, omitted by Cleveland in Appendix A, that Conybeare and Howson's book was in the public domain in the U.S., since it was a pre-1891 British book. Ellen White could therefore have copied a lot more than she allegedly did. She didn't have to stop with borrowing a mere 8 words out of 443 in the selection below.

Sketches from the Life of Paul
Ellen G. White, p. 55
Life and Epistles of Paul
Conybeare & Howson, p. 168
"The temple of Jupiter occupied a conspicuous position there."—p. 55. "The temple of Jupiter was a conspicuous object."—p. 168.  
8 out of 88 words are the same or similar, but not found in the Bible account. 8 out of about 443 words are the same or similar, but not found in the Bible account.
In Lystra there was no Jewish synagogue, though there were a few Jews in the place. The temple of Jupiter occupied a conspicuous position there. Paul and Barnabas appeared in the city together, teaching the doctrine of Christ with great power and eloquence. The credulous people believed them to be gods come down from Heaven. As the apostles gathered the people about them, and explained their strange belief, the worshipers of Jupiter sought to connect these doctrines, as far as they were able, with their own superstitious faith.

It was a common belief among the ancients that the gods occasionally visited the earth in the form of men. Such a belief with regard to Jupiter, "the father of gods and men," would be natural in any rural district: but nowhere should we be prepared to find the traces of it more than at Lystra; for Lystra, as it appears from St. Luke's narrative,1 was under the tutelage of Jupiter, and tutelary divinities were imagined to haunt the cities under their protection, though elsewhere invisible. The temple of Jupiter was a conspicuous object in front of the city-gates:2 what wonder if the citizens should be prone to believe that their "Jupiter, which was before the city," would willingly visit his favorite people? Again, the expeditions of Jupiter were usually represented as attended by Mercury. He was the companion, the messenger, the servant of the gods.3 Thus the notion of these two divinities appearing together in Lycaonia is quite in conformity with what we know of the popular belief. But their appearance in that particular district would be welcomed with more than usual credulity. Those who are acquainted with the literature of the Roman poets are familiar with a beautiful tradition of Jupiter and Mercury visiting in human form these very regions4 in the interior of Asia Minor. And it is not without a singular interest that we find one of Ovid's stories re-appearing in the sacred pages of the Acts of the Apostles. In this instance, as in so many others, the Scripture, in its incidental descriptions of the Heathen world, presents "undesigned coincidences" with the facts ascertained from Heathen memorials.

1 It is more likely that a temple than a statue of Jupiter is alluded to. The temple of the tutelary divinity was outside the walls at Perga (see p. 143) and at Ephesus, as we learn from the story in Herodotus (i. 26), who tells us that in a time of danger the citizens put themselves under the protection of Diana, by attaching her temple by a rope to the city wall.

2 Acts xiv. 13.

3 See the references in Smith's Dictionary of Classical Biography and Mythology under "Hermes." We may remark here that we have always used the nearest Latin equivalents for the Greek divinities, i. e. Jupiter, Mercury, Diana, Minerva, for Zeus, Hermes, Artemis, Athene.

4 See the story of Baucis and Philemon, Ovid. Met. viii. 611, &c. Even if the Lycaonians were a Semitic tribe, it is not unnatural to suppose them familiar with Greek mythology. An identification of classical and "barbarian" divinities had taken place in innumerable instances, as in the case of the Tyrian Hercules and Paphian Venus.

The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. (Acts 14:11)

Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people. (Acts 14:13)

The above page was found at https://www.TruthOrFables.net/conybeare-howson-cleveland-a.htm on April 20, 2024.

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