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

Distortion #8: Not As Bad As . . .

Really, we think all this stuff about plagiarism doesn't mean a thing at all due to an issue apparently avoided by Sydney Cleveland. If the Bible writers had no problem using a few words from someone else to express their thoughts, what was wrong about Ellen White doing the same? There certainly wasn't anything illegal or unethical in her alleged use of 2.8% of Conybeare and Howson's words in her Sketches from the Life of Paul.

Take for example the following comparison of just one verse each from 2 Peter and Jude. In the original Greek, we have 6 identical words (and one synonym) out of a total of 16 words in 2 Peter 2:4 and 22 words in Jude 6. 6 out of 16 is 37.5%, and 6 out of 22 is 27.3%. Any big deal that either Jude copied 37.5% of Peter's verse, or that Peter copied 27.3% of Jude's verse?

For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment. (2 Pet. 2:4)

And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. (Jude 1:6)

But, says one, at least they were copying from another Bible writer. However, that answer is inadequate. The fact of the matter is that both Peter and Jude were using words derived from the uninspired Book of Enoch:

Here their spirits shall be set apart in this great pain till the great day of judgement (Enoch 22:11)

And behold the names of those angels (Enoch 69:2)

With chains shall they be bound. (Enoch 69:28)

And into darkness and chains and a burning flame where there is grievous judgement . . . . (Enoch 103:8)

In our mind, the question of where the precise words came from is totally irrelevant. If Bible writers could use words from even uninspired sources, then Ellen White could too, unless doing so was somehow illegal or unethical.

Sketches from the Life of Paul
Ellen G. White, pp. 58, 59
Life and Epistles of Paul
Conybeare & Howson, p. 172
Scripture
"... the people were reluctantly led to give up their purpose ... and led away the sacrificial beasts."—p. 58. "The crowd reluctantly retired, and led the victims away without offering them in sacrifice."—p. 172.  
"They denied that God had any part in it, and claimed that it was accomplished through the demons whom these men served. The same class had formerly accused the Saviour of casting out devils through the power of the prince of devils."—p. 59. "They would say that it had been accomplished, not by Divine agency, but by some diabolical magic; as once they had said at Jerusalem, that He who came 'to destroy the works of the Devil' cast out devils 'by ... the prince of the devils.'"—p. 172.
13 out of 362 words are the same or similar, but not found in the Bible account. 13 out of about 356 words are the same or similar, but not found in the Bible account.

They reasoned that they had with their own eyes beheld the miraculous power exercised by the apostles; that they had seen a cripple who had never before used his limbs, made to leap and rejoice in perfect health and strength, through the exercise of the marvelous power possessed by these strangers. But, after much persuasion on the part of Paul, and explanation as to the true mission of the apostles, the people were reluctantly led to give up their purpose. They were not satisfied, however, and led away the sacrificial beasts in great disappointment that their traditions of divine beings visiting the earth could not be strengthened by this example of their favor in coming to confer upon them special blessings which would exalt them and their religion in the estimation of the world.

And now a strange change came upon the fickle, excitable people, because their faith was not anchored in the true God. The opposing Jews of Antioch, through whose influence the apostles were driven from that district, united with certain Jews of Iconium, and followed upon the track of the apostles. The miracle wrought upon the cripple, and its effect upon those who witnessed it, stirred up their envy, and led them to go to the scene of the apostles' labor, and put their false version upon the work. They denied that God had any part in it, and claimed that it was accomplished through the demons whom these men served.

The same class had formerly accused the Saviour of casting out devils through the power of the prince of devils; they had denounced him as a deceiver; and they now visited the same unreasoning wrath upon his apostles. By means of falsehoods they inspired the people of Lystra with the bitterness of spirit by which they were themselves actuated. They claimed to be thoroughly acquainted with the history and faith of Paul and Barnabas, and so misrepresented their characters and work that these heathen, who had been ready to worship the apostles as divine beings, now considered them worse than murderers, and that whoever should put them out of the world would do God and mankind good service.

The crowd reluctantly retired, and led the victims away without offering them in sacrifice to the Apostles. It might be supposed that at least a command had been obtained over their gratitude and reverence, which would not easily be destroyed; but we have to record here one of those sudden changes of feeling, which are humiliating proofs of the weakness of human nature and of the superficial character of religious excitement. The Lycaonians were proverbially fickle and faithless; but we may not too hastily decide that they were worse than many others might have been under the same circumstances. It would not be difficult to find a parallel to their conduct among the modern converts from idolatry to Christianity. And certainly no later missionaries have had more assiduous enemies than the Jews, whom the Apostles had everywhere to oppose. Certain Jews from Iconium, and even from Antioch,4 followed in the footsteps of Paul and Barnabas, and endeavoured to excite the hostility of the Lystrians against them. When they heard of the miracle worked on the lame man, and found how great an effect it had produced on the people of Lystra, they would be ready with a new interpretation of this occurrence.

They would say that it had been accomplished, not by Divine agency, but by some diabolical magic; as once they had said at Jerusalem, that He who came "to destroy the works of the devil," cast out devils "by Beelzebub the prince of the devils."5 And this is probably the true explanation of that sudden [p. 173] change of feeling among the Lystrians, which at first sight is very surprising. Their own interpretation of what they had witnessed having been disavowed by the authors of the miracle themselves, they would readily adopt a new interpretation, suggested by those who appeared to be well acquainted with the strangers, and who had followed them from distant cities. Their feelings changed with a revulsion as violent as that which afterwards took place among the "barbarous people" of Malta,1 who first thought St. Paul was a murderer, and then a God.


4 Acts xiv. 19.

5 Matt. xii. 24.

1 Acts xxviii. 4-6.

And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them. (Acts 4:18)

And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. (Acts 14:19)

Mt 12:24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.


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