Some critics have accused Ellen White of plagiarizing the contents of The Desire of Ages from the writings of various authors. But, did she really? Below is an analysis of the alleged comparisons.
One problem with those who are "victims" of parallelomania is that they confuse the mere presence of a few words in both texts as being evidence of plagiarism. They completely overlook the context and meaning of the words that are similar, an even more importantly, the far greater number of words that are dissimilar.
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 the critics did a fair analysis, or whether their comparisons actually distorted reality. Accordingly, we have coded the text so that you, the reader, can easily come to your own conclusion. Material that is not coded means neither the critics, nor Dr. Veltman's and his team of researchers, could not, or did not, find anything worthy of note.
Material in Ellen G. White that is an exact, word-for-word match to her alleged source.
Material in Ellen G. White that is similar to her alleged source.
Material that is represented in either Rea's book or Dr. Veltman's study by an ellipsis.
Material dropped from the beginning or end of the paragraph of the alleged source in Rea's book. This also means that Ellen G. White did not use this material in the creation of her book The Desire of Ages.
Material clipped from the beginning or end of a sentence in Rea's book, 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.)
Material that was mis-capitalized or mis-abbreviated in Rea.
Typical author's caveat: all errors are, of course, mine. If you find any errors please let me know and I'll fix them.
|Alleged Source(s)||Desire of Ages. (1898)|
March, Walks and Homes of Jesus. (Thomas Mitchell, 1899?): page 94
It is drawing towards evening. The labourers are gathering in from the vineyards and the harvest fields, to the villages. The bleating flocks are returning to the folds on the grassy slopes of Tabor. The snowy heights of distant Hermon are reddening in the glow of the setting sun. Mount Carmel casts its lengthening shadows far up the plain of Esdraelon. The deep silence which settles upon the solitudes of nature, invites to retirement, meditation, and prayer.
And now the Master calls the three favorite disciples to himself, and makes his way out of the noisy town, across the open fields and the wild pasture lands, and up the steep ascent of the mountain. It is a rounded and dome-like elevation, pushed up to a great height, out of the bosom of the plain. The evening cloud sweeps beneath the summit, and the light of the setting sun lingers long upon the top, after it has left the plain below. The path first leads through waving fields of golden grain. then vines and olives cover the terraces of limestone and earth. When the slope grows steeper, thick forests of
page 95oak and terebinth conceal the Master and his disciples.
He has spent the day in travel and in teaching, and this mountain-climb at night adds a heavy weight to the weariness that demanded rest before the evening came. His hand has lifted the burden of infirmity from many shoulders, and has sent the thrill of life into many a worn and wasted frame, but He himself is as much fatigued with the steep ascent as the impetuous Peter or the gentle John. They do not ask Him whither he is going. They have known Him many times to spend the whole night in desert places, or upon lonely mountains in prayer, and they do not need to ask Him for what purpose He leads them forth from the noisy crowd or the quiet homes of men at the evening hour. They go because he asks their company, and yet they think it strange that he must needs add this lonely watching in the chill air of night, to the weariness and exhaustion of the day. Peter thinks He is beside himself, and he would tell Him so if he had not been so recently rebuked and silenced for obtruding advice upon his Master.
Hanna, page 330; as per Dr. Veltman's study
The sun sinks in the west beneath the waters of the great Sea as the top of the mountain is reached. Night begins to draw its mantle round them, wrapping in obscurity the world below.
He Was Transfigured
[This chapter is based on Matt. 17:1-8;
1 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as P2 (simple paraphrase). Return to text
2 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as V2 (verbatim). Return to text
3 In Dr. Veltman's study this sentence is split in two and both are rated as P1 (strict paraphrase). Return to text
4 In Dr. Veltman's study this sentence and is rated as P1 (strict paraphrase). Return to text
5 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as P2 (simple paraphrase). Is it any surprise that the sun sets in the west and that the night follows? And yet this is supposed to be evidence for literary dependency?!? Note also the different subjects for the use of the words "wrapped" and "wrapping". Return to text
6 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as V2 (verbatim). Dr. Veltman's study has March continuing with the words "he leads them away to the solitude of the mountain just as night is setting in, and they all need repose and protection in the homes which they have left behind." Return to text
7 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as P1 (strict paraphrase). Return to text
8 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as P3 (loose paraphrase). Return to text
March, page 97
But not to gaze on a landscape which one might travel half round the globe to see,--not to rest after long and exhausting toil,--not to escape impending danger,--has Jesus sought this mountain solitude. He has no bed but the bare earth. The dew falls like rain at evening, and the morning wind will come from perpetual snows. To such a place the Man of sorrows goes to spend the whole night in prayer. And his supplication continues hour after hour, with strong crying and many tears, the disciples grow weary with watching and they fall asleep. The midnight passes, and they sleep on, forgetful of their waking and agonizing Master.
He has told them of the great woe that will come upon him before another summer begins. They have only tried to divert his mind from such that they may watch with him while he prays for strength to meet the terrible conflict, they slept as they slept again in Gethsemane, leaving him to
Page 98bear his great agony alone. [see below for rest of this paragraph]
Cumming, page 163
[skipping over 28 lines of text] And these three, too, were selected to witness that agony and bloody sweat in the garden of Gethsemane; and they needed to see this great
Page 164glory, that they might descend from the Mount, and be prepared to endure that so great agony. Every man must first be on Tabor, in order that he may endure when he comes into his Gethsemane. We need the strength of the one, that we may be able to pass triumphantly through the pains and agonies of the other.
supplications with strong crying and tears.9 He prays for strength to endure the test in behalf of humanity.10 He must Himself gain a fresh hold on Omnipotence, for only thus can He contemplate the future. And He pours out His heart longings for His disciples, that in the hour of the power of darkness their faith may not fail. The dew is heavy upon His bowed form, but He heeds it not.11 The shadows of night gather thickly about Him, but He regards not their gloom. So the hours pass slowly by. At first the disciples unite their prayers with His in sincere devotion; but after a time they are overcome with weariness, and, even while trying to retain their interest in the scene, they fall asleep.12 Jesus has told them of His sufferings; He has taken them with Him that they might unite with Him in prayer; even now He is praying for them.13 The Saviour has seen the gloom of His disciples, and has longed to lighten their grief by an assurance that their faith has not been in vain. Not all, even of the twelve, can receive the revelation He desires to give. Only the three who are to witness His anguish in Gethsemane have been chosen to be with Him on the mount.14 Now the burden of His prayer is that they may be given a manifestation
9 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as P2 (simple paraphrase). Return to text
10 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as P1 (strict paraphrase). Return to text
11 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as I2 (partial independence). Return to text
12 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as I2 (partial independence). Return to text
13 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as I2 (partial independence). Return to text
14 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as P2 (simple paraphrase). Return to text
March, page 98; picking up from above
Their indifference must have been the more distressing to Him inasmuch as He was praying especially for such a manifestation of His glory before their eyes as would heal their unbelief, and help them to be reconciled to the humiliation and death which awaited Him at Jerusalem.
The mighty Mediator is not left to pray unheard. Suddenly, as if the golden gates of heaven had been thrown wide open, and the splendour of the eternal throne had been poured upon the holy mount, the bending Suppliant is clothed with a glory above the brightness of the sun. No longer prostrate in an agony of prayer, He seems to sit enthroned amid the radiance of light ineffable. His countenance wears the aspect of serene and godlike majesty, and His garments shine like the drifted snow beneath the noonday sun.
The sleeping disciples are wakened by the flood of glory covering the whole mount. Gazing with wonder and alarm upon the shining robes and the changed countenance of their Master, they see that He is not alone. The great lawgiver, who conversed with Jehovah amid the thunders and the darkness of Sinai, and the mighty prophet who was taken up in a chariot of fire have come down from their heavenly rest to pay their homage to their King and to talk with him of the appointed completion of his mission, while his disciples sleep. Somehow, strangely, they see at once that it is Moses and Elijah with whom He speaks. And these ancient worthies are fully
Page 99aware of the awful tragedy to be accomplished at Jerusalem, the announcement of which from the lips of their Master had so greatly tasked their faith and afflicted their hearts.
Hanna, page 331
It was given them to listen to, and so far to understand, the converse they were holding with Jesus, as to know that they were speaking to him about the decease he was to accomplish at Jerusalem.
of the glory He had with the Father before the world was, that His kingdom may be revealed to human eyes, and that His disciples may be strengthened to behold it.15 He pleads that they may witness a manifestation of His divinity that will comfort them in the hour of His supreme agony with the knowledge that He is of a surety the Son of God and that His shameful death is a part of the plan of redemption.16
His prayer is heard.17 While He is bowed in lowliness upon the stony ground, suddenly the heavens open, the golden gates of the city of God are thrown wide, and holy radiance descends upon the mount, enshrouding the Saviour's form.18 Divinity from within flashes through humanity, and meets the glory coming from above. Arising from His prostrate position, Christ stands in godlike majesty.19 The soul agony is gone.20 His countenance now shines "as the sun," and His garments are "white as the light."21
The disciples, awaking, behold the flood of glory that illuminates the mount.22 In fear and amazement they gaze upon the radiant form of their Master.23 As they become able to endure the wondrous light, they see that Jesus is not alone.24 Beside Him are two heavenly beings, in close converse with Him.25 They are Moses, who upon Sinai had talked with God; and Elijah, to whom the high privilege was given--granted to but one other of the sons of Adam--never to come under the power of death.26
Upon Mount Pisgah fifteen centuries before, Moses had stood gazing upon the Land of Promise. But because of his sin at Meribah, it was not for him to enter there. Not for him was the joy of leading the host of Israel into the inheritance of their fathers. His agonized entreaty, "I pray Thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon" (Deut. 3:25), was refused. The hope that for forty years had lighted up the darkness of the desert wanderings must be denied. A wilderness grave was the goal of those years of toil and heart-burdening care. But He who is "able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Eph. 3:20), had in this measure answered His servant's prayer. Moses passed under the dominion of death, but he was not to remain in the tomb. Christ Himself called him forth to life. Satan the tempter had claimed the body of Moses because of his sin; but Christ the Saviour brought him forth from the grave. Jude 9.
Moses upon the mount of transfiguration was a witness to Christ's victory over sin and death. He represented those who shall come forth
15 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as P2 (simple paraphrase). Return to text
16 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as P2 (simple paraphrase). Return to text
17 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as P1 (strict paraphrase). Return to text
18 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as P2 (simple paraphrase). Return to text
19 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as P2 (simple paraphrase). Return to text
20 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as P2 (simple paraphrase). Return to text
21 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as I2 (partial independence). Return to text
22 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as P1 (strict paraphrase). Return to text
23 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as P2 (simple paraphrase). Return to text
24 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as I2 (partial independence). Return to text
25 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as P2 (simple paraphrase). Return to text
26 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as I2 (partial independence). Return to text
March, page 100
It shows the suffering and glorified Redeemer to be the one object of supreme interest and attraction in the whole revelation of God to man. This meek and lowly Jesus, who, for two years and a half had been going to and fro a homeless wanderer through all Judaea, is disclosed on the holy mount as the son of the Highest, to whom the patriarchs and prophets of the olden time render homage, in whom the mighty spirits of the blessed world recognize their King. The great lawgiver of Israel, after nearly fifteen hundred years of growing knowledge in the life of heaven, comes down from the mansions of paradise to acknowledge the Divine Prophet and Deliverer, whose coming he had so long ago foretold, and is
Page 101seen and heard reverently talking with Jesus of the great event of His crucifixion, in which the inhabitants of earth and heaven have the most profound and awful interest. The greatest of all the prophets, whose presence was a terror to kings, and whose prayers shut up heaven in the days of Israel's apostasy, comes back to acknowledge Jesus as a greater prophet than himself, and to speak of His appointed death in Jerusalem as the great expiation without which there could be no hope for a lost world.
This august embassy from the world of spirits, representing all the providences and revelations in the past, and all the sublime intelligence of the redeemed in heaven, appears in glory on the holy mount, to testify that in Christ all promises of mercy to man are fulfilled, and that through His death only can there be redemption for the lost. The decease, which Christ was to accomplish at Jerusalem, was already known to the inhabitants of heaven.
Fleetwood, page 187
This disciple imagined that Jesus had now assumed his proper dignity, that Elias was come, according to Malachi's prediction, and the Messiah's kingdom was at length begun.
March, page 91
The mighty works would have been inexplicable without the Divine word. The perfect life would have been a still greater mystery without the atoning death. The cross was borne by the King, that His redeemed subjects might share His crown. [this paragraph continues for another 6 lines ending on the next page]
Nicoll, page 242; as per Dr. Veltman's study
We know from other parts of the gospel what solace our Lord found in the sympathy of heaven. Though Pharisees might frown and jeer when sinners were saved, there were mirth and music in the presence of the angels of God. Here He was not ministered to by angels. Those who spoke to Him knew more than angels could of His sorrow in His work, and of the meaning of death. Still it is the sympathy of heaven that is here given as a cordial to help Him on.
from the grave at the resurrection of the just. Elijah, who had been translated to heaven without seeing death, represented those who will be living upon the earth at Christ's second coming, and who will be "changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump;" when "this mortal must put on immortality," and "this corruptible must put on incorruption." 1 Cor. 15:51-53. Jesus was clothed with the light of heaven, as He will appear when He shall come "the second time without sin unto salvation." For He will come "in the glory of His Father with the holy angels." Heb. 9:28; Mark 8:38. The Saviour's promise to the disciples was now fulfilled. Upon the mount the future kingdom of glory was represented in miniature,--Christ the King, Moses a representative of the risen saints, and Elijah of the translated ones.
The disciples do not yet comprehend the scene; but they rejoice that the patient Teacher, the meek and lowly One, who has wandered to and fro a helpless stranger, is honored by the favored ones of heaven.27 They believe that Elijah has come to announce the Messiah's reign, and that the kingdom of Christ is about to be set up on the earth.28 The memory of their fear and disappointment they would banish forever. Here, where the glory of God is revealed, they long to tarry. Peter exclaims, "Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias." The disciples are confident that Moses and Elijah have been sent to protect their Master, and to establish His authority as king.
But before the crown must come the cross.29 Not the inauguration of Christ as king, but the decease to be accomplished at Jerusalem, is the subject of their conference with Jesus.30 Bearing the weakness of humanity, and burdened with its sorrow and sin, Jesus walked alone in the midst of men. As the darkness of the coming trial pressed upon Him, He was in loneliness of spirit, in a world that knew Him not. Even His loved disciples, absorbed in their own doubt and sorrow and ambitious hopes, had not comprehended the mystery of His mission. He had dwelt amid the love and fellowship of heaven; but in the world that He had created, He was in solitude. Now heaven had sent its messengers to Jesus; not angels, but men who had endured suffering and sorrow, and who could sympathize with the Saviour in the trial of His earthly life.31 Moses and Elijah had been colaborers with Christ. They had shared His longing for the salvation of men. Moses had pleaded for Israel: "Yet now, if Thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy book which Thou hast written." Ex. 32:32. Elijah
27 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as I2 (partial independence). Return to text
28 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as P2 (simple paraphrase). Return to text
29 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as P2 (simple paraphrase). Return to text
30 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as I2 (partial independence). Return to text
31 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as P2 (simple paraphrase). Return to text
Fleetwood, page 187
Thus, as it were, for an instant, the Son of God, during his state of humiliation, suffered the glory of his divinity to shine through the veil of human nature, with which it was covered: and to heighten the grandeur and solemnity of the scene, Moses, the great lawgiver of Israel, and Elijah, a zealous defender of the laws, appeared in the beauties of immortality, the robes in which the inhabitants of the heavenly Canaan are adorned.-- The disciples, it seems, did not see the beginning of this transfiguration; happening to fall asleep at the time of prayer, they lost that pleasure, together with a great part of the conversation which these two prophets held with the only-begotten Son of God.
March, page 100; whole paragraph given above
This meek and lowly Jesus, who for two years and a half had been going to and fro a homeless wanderer through all Judea, is disclosed on the holy mount as the son of the Highest, to whom the patriarchs and prophets of the olden time render homage, in whom the mighty spirits of the blessed world recognize their King.
March, page 99
While he is yet speaking, the awful cloud of the Shekinah's glory that went before the tribes of Israel in the wilderness, overshadows them; and out of the cloud comes the Divine voice which had spoken from the tabernacle of Moses and from the temple of Solomon. It sets at nought the weakness and vanity of all human counsel, and commands attention to the supreme source of wisdom and authority, saying, "This is me beloved Son: hear Him." And with that first and final lesson for the interpretation of all mysteries and the attainment of all faith, the vision passes. When the disciples, smitten to the ground by the terror of "the voice from the excellent glory," lift up their eyes again, they see no man but Jesus only.
Hanna, page 332
Jesus comes, touches them. The touch restores their strength. He says, "Arise, and be not afraid." ... The voices have ceased, the forms have vanished, the glory is gone; they are alone with Jesus as at the first.
had known loneliness of spirit, as for three years and a half of famine he had borne the burden of the nation's hatred and its woe. Alone he had stood for God upon Mount Carmel. Alone he had fled to the desert in anguish and despair. These men, chosen above every angel around the throne, had come to commune with Jesus concerning the scenes of His suffering, and to comfort Him with the assurance of the sympathy of heaven. The hope of the world, the salvation of every human being, was the burden of their interview.
Through being overcome with sleep, the disciples heard little of what passed between Christ and the heavenly messengers.32 Failing to watch and pray, they had not received that which God desired to give them,--a knowledge of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. They lost the blessing that might have been theirs through sharing His self-sacrifice. Slow of heart to believe were these disciples, little appreciative of the treasure with which Heaven sought to enrich them.
Yet they received great light. They were assured that all heaven knew of the sin of the Jewish nation in rejecting Christ.; They were given a clearer insight into the work of the Redeemer. They saw with their eyes and heard with their ears things that were beyond the comprehension of man. They were "eyewitnesses of His majesty" (2 Peter 1:16), and they realized that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, to whom patriarchs and prophets had witnessed, and that He was recognized as such by the heavenly universe.33
While they were still gazing on the scene upon the mount, "a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him." As they beheld the cloud of glory, brighter than that which went before the tribes of Israel in the wilderness; as they heard the voice of God speak in awful majesty that caused the mountain to tremble, the disciples fell smitten to the earth.34 They remained prostrate, their faces hidden, till Jesus came near, and touched them, dispelling their fears with His well-known voice, "Arise, and be not afraid."35 Venturing to lift up their eyes, they saw that the heavenly glory had passed away, the forms of Moses and Elijah had disappeared.36 They were upon the mount, alone with Jesus.37
32 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as P3 (loose paraphrase). Return to text
33 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as P1 (strict paraphrase). Return to text
34 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as P1 (strict paraphrase). Return to text
34 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as P1 (strict paraphrase). Return to text
36 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as P2 (simple paraphrase). Return to text
37 In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as P1 (strict paraphrase). Return to text
have spent the day in traveling and, page 419
teaching, and this mountain climb, page 419
has sent the thrill of life, page 419
The light of the setting sun, page 419
whither He is going, page 419
mountains in prayer, page 419
the Man of Sorrows, page 419
with strong crying and, page 420
He prays for strength to, page 420
they fall asleep., page 420
has told them of, page 420
a manifestation of, pages 420-1
the golden gates of, page 421
and His garments, page 421
the flood of glory, page 421
of their Master, page 421
they see that, page 421
is not alone., page 421
meek and lowly, page 422
to and fro a, page 422
accomplished at Jerusalem,, page 422
patriarchs and prophets, page 425
went before the tribes of Israel in the wilderness, page 425
smitten to the, page 425
lift up their eyes, page 425
alone with Jesus, page 425
The Saviour and His disciples have spent the day in traveling and teaching, and this mountain climb adds to their weariness., page 419
The disciples do not venture to ask Christ whither He is going, or for what purpose., page 419
Of the 89 sentences in this chapter 2 are considered to be verbatim, 28 are considered to be a paraphrase of some sort, 3 are Bible texts and 56 are considered to be independent (both types--this amounts to 66.2921% which is along way in the wrong direction from the 80-90% claim.).
1) One flaw in the above tables is that they only show those "sources" which are very similar to the Ellen G. White text and were rated in Dr. Veltman's study. It does not show the other "sources" which were not rated by Dr. Veltman and his team of researchers. Dr. Veltman's report notes (on page 427) that:
A close scrutiny of such similarities between the various accounts being compared will clearly reveal the complexity of literary comparison, especially if one wants to avoid "parallelomania" (seeing parallels where none really exist).
2) One problem with doing a parallel column analysis and listing the verbal similarities is that it can, to use a common expression, get one so close to the trees that one forgets to look at the forest. That is, looking merely at the words that are exactly or similar to an alleged source can cause one to not look at the character of the words themselves and how they are being used. In this chapter Dr. Veltman notes:
The dependent sentences are heaviest in the narrative sections. The sources appear to be most helpful in the descriptive areas. Ellen White departs from the use of sources in her development of the appearance of Moses and Elijah and in her comments on the real purpose of the revelation. It is not that she is always independent when developing the discursive sections. It is just more likely that the majority of her independent work will be found in such passages.