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"No lie can live forever." Thomas Carlyle


Misinformation on the Web
(last updated March 31, 2006)

      Typical author's caveat: all errors are, of course, mine. If you find any errors (or dead links!) please let me know (email to djconklin@aemail4u.com) and I'll fix them.

      SIDEBAR: One of the "beauties" of having a web page is that if something that was put on the page is later found to be in error one can either fix it or take it down altogether. So, some critics have taken advantage of this fact and have made all sorts of claims against Ellen G. White in particular, and the SDA church in general, and when someone like myself shows that it is wrong then "poof" the page disappears. One would like to think that it is simply a case of people getting more information and that this changes their mind. But ...

      Originally this page was about a particular critic at a particular forum who made two wild claims about Ellen G. White. When the owner of the web page found out that the claim was totally false he took the forum completely down and wiped it out so no one will ever know that his site was promoting disinformation. One might think he took it down simply because it is was wrong, but the fact that the site continues its relentless attack against Ellen G. White and the SDA church says otherwise.

     


 

    Some critics have accused Ellen White of plagiarizing her writings from the writings of various authors.  But, did she really?  Below is an analysis of two of the allegations made on the aforementioned forum.

      CLAIM #1: On the web there are a number of sources which claim that Ellen White stole or plagiarized 80-90% of the material in her articles and books from other writers. For example see http://www.bible.ca/7-WhiteInspire.htm which say "White plagiarized 80-90% ...."

      They are not alone in making this kind of remark. See also:

      http://www.macgregorministries.org/seventh_day_adventists/resignation.html: "Estimates are that 70-80 % of her writings have been stolen from others."

      http://web2.airmail.net/billtod/martin.htm (Sometime between Feb. 14 and March 30 this web page was taken down.)(This was supposedly an interview with Walter Martin): "MARTIN: Well, considering that 90% of her writings allegedly have been tainted by secular or religious sources, even if it was good material, one does get quite suspicious of her ethics and of her genuine commitment to truth."

      The first thing one should ask when presented with such a claim is "Let me see the math.  How did you arrive at such a number?"  One scholar reports that when a Ph.D. candidate hands him a copy of his dissertation for review the first thing he does is to check the math.  He stated that invariably he finds an error. You will look in vain for any of the critics to substantiate how they did their math on this question.

      According Dr.Veltman the reality is that the percentage of Bible and independent sentences for each chapter in Ellen G. White's book The Desire of Ages is this:

      Chapter 3 = 73.0769%
      Chapter 10 = 89.1775%
      Chapter 13 = 97.6378%
      Chapter 14 = 66.0000%
      Chapter 24 = 84.9673%
      Chapter 37 = 76.9585%
      Chapter 39 = 79.1139%
      Chapter 46 = 66.2921%
      Chapter 53 = 88.6010%
      Chapter 56 = 100.0000%
      Chapter 72 = 83.5821%
      Chapter 75 = 62.9630%
      Chapter 76 = 72.8324%
      Chapter 83 = 56.0345%
      Chapter 84 = 43.4783%

      The average of independent sentences in the above is 75.4192%

      This means that at best a little less than 24.6% of Ellen G. White's material in her book The Desire of Ages can be considered to be "literary dependent" on someone else's work.  Having looked at this material very closely over the past three years convinces me that all of that material needs to be downgraded by one level.  For instance, material that is considered to be "verbatim" would be reduced to paraphrase and what is called a paraphrase would be reduced to independent.  This would mean that the average percentage of independent and Biblical material given above would be much, much higher.

      CLAIM #2: Some critics on the web have gone on to claim: "Ellen copied copiously from the works of others, having no apparent regard for whether the source material was based upon biblical fact or pure fiction."  The problem here is three-fold: first, the only work of fiction I know of that Ellen G. White is claimed to have copied from is that of J. H. Ingraham's The Prince of the House of David, secondly, that work isn't "pure fiction" but is a fictional account based on the Biblical text, and finally, and fatally for this claim, as Dr. Veltman carefully notes, on page 180 of his study (chapter 13): "We have no record of Ellen White's ever having this particular book in her library ..."!  To put the best face on it, it sounds like someone did a very inadequate job of researching the available evidence.

      The facts notwithstanding, this can make for an interesting exercise.  How can we account for the weak and scattered (chapters 14, 75 and 76--see below for the evidence) literary similarities that we think we find in both works?  I can come up with a variety of possibilities:

      1) Ellen G. White heard the words used in a sermon on the topics covered by the chapters in her book.

      2) Ellen G. White read the words used in a church paper.

      3) Ellen G. White heard the words used in a private conversation (either directly to her or she overheard what someone else said).

      4) The words used by both authors were the conventional way of thinking about those particular matters in their day and age on those topics.

      Of course, the burden of proof lies with those who claimed that she copied the words.

J. H. Ingraham's The Prince of the House of David.
Desire of Ages. (1898)
Ingraham, page 81

      He stopped, and turned upon them a look so pale, and marred with sadness and anguish, that they both stood still and gazed on Him with amazement at such a change.

Ingraham, skipping down to page 92

      "He turned his pale countenance full upon me, and extended toward me his emaciated hands, while he smiled faintly, and blessed me and said:

skipping down _21_ lines
Worn to a skeleton by long abstinence, weak through suffering, He looked but a shadow of himself.

Chapter 14, page 137

      There were in the throng some who at Christ's baptism had beheld the divine glory, and had heard the voice of God. But since that time the Saviour's appearance had greatly changed.1 At His baptism they had seen His countenance transfigured in the light of heaven; now, pale, worn, and emaciated, He had been recognized only by the prophet John.2

NOTES

      1††In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as I2 (partial independence).    Return to text

      2††In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as I2 (partial independence).    Return to text

Ingraham, page 359; this paragraph starts on page 358 and has 13 lines before this point

A score of the elders and chief priests were standing about him, their dark, eager faces earnestly watching the entrance, to get a look at the approaching Prophet. Among the most eager of all these was Caiaphas himself, who regarded the eloquent Nazarene as his rival in the eyes of the whole people, and had, therefore, long thirsted for his destruction. As Jesus serenely entered, led by the sorrowful milius, Caiaphas bent his tall, gaunt form forward, thrust his neck and huge head in advance, and with keen eyes, and sharp, scrutinizing glances, surveyed Him whom he jealously looked upon as his foe!

      "The multitude pressing in, soon filled all the vast hall, and even crowded upon the rostrum, upon which were seated the scribes, elders, and many of the principal priests. The Roman soldiers, with clanging steel, marched in, and arrayed themselves on either side of the High Priest's throne, leaving Jesus standing alone before its footstool. [this paragraph continues for another 17 lines onto the next page]

Ingraham, page 360

[this paragraph began 17 lines above this point] He alone, of all that countless host, He alone, of all that countless host, He alone was calm--serene--fearless! Caiaphas gazed upon Him, as He stood before his footstool, betraying in his glance admiration mingled with resentment. The scribes and priests also curiously gazed, and talked together with looks of unusual interest. Caiaphas now waved his hand, with a gesture for silence and addressed Jesus:

      "'So, then,' he spoke, with haughty irony, 'thou art Jesus, the far-famed Galilean Prophet! Men say thou canst raise the dead! We would fain behold a miracle. Thinkest thou if we put thee to death presently, thou canst raise thyself?"

      "'Jesus,' saith Rabbi Amos, who just then entered,

Page 361
and stood near Him, and saw all, 'Jesus remained unmoved. His bearing was marked by a certain divine dignity, while an expression of holy resignation sat upon his features. He looked like Peace, incarnate in the form of man! A soft influence seemed to flow from his presence, producing a universal but momentary emotion of sympathy. Caiaphas perceived it, and cried, in his harsh, stern voice:

Ingraham, page 362

      "This was no sooner heard than some of the men gnashed at Jesus with their teeth, and, but for the gestures and loud voice of the High Priest, they would have made an attempt to get Him into their power. [7]The noise of their rage, so great was the madness of the people, is described as having been like the roaring of wild beasts of the wilderness, rushing to the banquet of a fresh battle-field.

Ingraham, page 366; skipping over four pages

      [8]"'He is guilty of death!' cried Abner, in a hoarse voice, his eyes red with being up all the night, glaring like a leopard's and advancing to where Jesus stood , bound and bleeding he spat in his face thrice.

      "This was followed by a loud outcry for his death;

page 367

and several vile fellows also spat upon Him, and pulled Him by the beard, while for some minutes it seemed to be the only thought of all, who were any ways near His person, to do Him some ignominy; [9]and, but for the protection of milius and his soldiers, they would have torn Him in pieces.

      [3]"'Is this Jewish justice! cried milius, indignantly, to Caiaphas. Do you condemn and kill a man without witness? [4]Stand back, for Romans are not used to see men condemned without law. Back fellows--or your blood will flow sooner than his for which you thirst!'

{skipping over 21 lines of text}
Page 368

      "But his voice was drowned amid the roar of the human tempest. milius and his men were borne away on the crest of the surge, and so pressed by the bodies of the Jews that they could not make use of their weapons. In the wild confusion, Jesus was carried, by fierce hands, to the opposite end of the council-chamber; while Caiaphas strove to appease the wrath of milius, who insisted that the fate of Jesus should be left with Pilate, the Procurator. After brief consultation with the chief-priests, elders, and scribes, Caiaphas consented; though knowing that Pilate, being a pagan, would not heed a charge of blasphemy, he resolved with the rest, that nothing should be said of that before him, but that He should be accused to him of sedition, and of setting up a kingdom in opposition to the universal empire of Caesar.

      [7]"When milius, aided by the authority of Caiaphas, at length came where Jesus had been dragged, they found Him standing blindfolded among a crowd of the basest fellows of Jerusalem, who were diverting themselves by slapping his cheeks, and asking Him to tell by his divine knowledge of all things, who did it?

Chapter 75, page 703

      When the council had assembled in the judgment hall, Caiaphas took his seat as presiding officer. On either side were the judges, and those specially interested in the trial.3 The Roman soldiers were stationed on

Page 704

the platform below the throne.4 At the foot of the throne stood Jesus.5 Upon Him the gaze of the whole multitude was fixed. The excitement was intense. Of all the throng He alone was calm and serene.6 The very atmosphere surrounding Him seemed pervaded by a holy influence.7

      Caiaphas had regarded Jesus as his rival.8 The eagerness of the people to hear the Saviour, and their apparent readiness to accept His teachings, had aroused the bitter jealousy of the high priest.9 But as Caiaphas now looked upon the prisoner, he was struck with admiration for His noble and dignified bearing.10 A conviction came over him that this Man was akin to God. The next instant he scornfully banished the thought. Immediately

Page 705

his voice was heard in sneering, haughty tones demanding that Jesus work one of His mighty miracles before them.11 But his words fell upon the Saviour's ears as though He heard them not.12 The people compared the excited and malignant deportment of Annas and Caiaphas with the calm, majestic bearing of Jesus. Even in the minds of that hardened multitude arose the question, Is this man of godlike presence to be condemned as a criminal?

Page 715

      When the condemnation of Jesus was pronounced by the judges, a satanic fury took possession of the people. The roar of voices was like that of wild beasts.13 The crowd made a rush toward Jesus, crying, He is guilty, put Him to death!14 Had it not been for the Roman soldiers, Jesus would not have lived to be nailed to the cross of Calvary.15 He would have been torn in pieces before His judges, had not Roman authority interfered, and by force of arms restrained the violence of the mob.16

      Heathen men were angry at the brutal treatment of one against whom nothing had been proved.17 The Roman officers declared that the Jews in pronouncing condemnation upon Jesus were infringing upon the Roman power, and that it was even against the Jewish law to condemn a man to death upon his own testimony.18 This intervention brought a momentary lull in the proceedings; but the Jewish leaders were dead alike to pity and to shame.

      Priests and rulers forgot the dignity of their office, and abused the Son of God with foul epithets. They taunted Him with His parentage. They declared that His presumption in proclaiming Himself the Messiah made Him deserving of the most ignominious death. The most dissolute men engaged in infamous abuse of the Saviour.19 An old garment was thrown over His head, and His persecutors struck Him in the face, saying, "Prophesy unto us, Thou Christ, Who is he that smote Thee?" When the garment was removed, one poor wretch spat in His face.

NOTES

††3††In Dr. Veltman's study this sentence is rated as P2 (simple paraphrase--see Ingraham, page 359).    Return to text

††4††In Dr. Veltman's study this sentence is rated as P2 (simple paraphrase--see Ingraham, page 359).    Return to text

††5††In Dr. Veltman's study this sentence is rated as P1 (strict paraphrase--see Ingraham, page 359).    Return to text

††6††In Dr. Veltman's study this sentence is rated as V2 (verbatim--see Ingraham, page 360).    Return to text

††7††In Dr. Veltman's study this sentence is rated as P2 (simple paraphrase--see Ingraham, page 361).    Return to text

††8††In Dr. Veltman's study this sentence is rated as P1 (strict paraphrase--see Ingraham, page 359).    Return to text

††9††In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as I2 (partial independence--see Ingraham, page 359).    Return to text

††10††In Dr. Veltman's study this is rated as I2 (partial independence--see Ingraham, page 360).    Return to text

††11††In Dr. Veltman's study this sentence is rated as P1 (strict paraphrase--see Ingraham, page 360).    Return to text

††12††In Dr. Veltman's study this sentence is rated as P2 (simple paraphrase--see Ingraham, page 361).    Return to text

††13††In Dr. Veltman's study this sentence is rated as P1 (strict paraphrase--see Ingraham, page 361, sentence 7).    Return to text

††14††In Dr. Veltman's study this sentence is rated as P1 (strict paraphrase--see Ingraham, page 366, sentence 8).    Return to text

††15††In Dr. Veltman's study this sentence is rated as P2 (simple paraphrase--see Ingraham, page 366, "sentence" 9).    Return to text

††16††In Dr. Veltman's study this sentence is rated as P2 (simple paraphrase--see Ingraham, page 366, "sentence" 9).    Return to text

††17††In Dr. Veltman's study this sentence is rated as P1 (strict paraphrase--see Ingraham, page 367, sentence 3).    Return to text

††18††In Dr. Veltman's study this sentence is rated as P2 (simple paraphrase--see Ingraham, page 367, sentence 4).    Return to text

††19††In Dr. Veltman's study this sentence is rated as P1 (strict paraphrase--see Ingraham, page 368, sentence 7).    Return to text

Ingraham, page 402

      Here Rabbi Amos could speak no more to Him, for the crowd dragged Him off the court of Gabbatha, and so down the steep street, in the direction of the gate of the kings, that leads out to Cavalry, the public place of execution, where the Romans, since they have been masters of Jerusalem, have executed criminals by their cruel mode of crucifying. At the gate, a Roman Centurion took Him into custody under arms, and escorted Him, followed by the vast multitude.

      Rabbi Amos accompanied the multitude, keeping as nigh to Jesus as the Roman soldiers, who marched on each side of Him, would let him. On the way, as they crossed the open space where once stood the palace and the statue of Antiochus Seleucus, the eyes of the Rabbi were attracted by the cries and pointed fingers of many of the people, to the body of a man lying dead at the foot of a withered fig-tree. Upon drawing nearer, he

Page 403

recognized the features of the man Judas, who had so basely betrayed his Master! The spectacle which he exhibited was revolting, and horrid to look upon! About his neck was wound a fragment of his girdle, the other half being still secured to a limb of the tree, showing how he had met his fate. The cord had broken by his weight, and being a fleshy man, he had, most dreadful to relate, in the fall burst asunder, and the hungry dogs that infest the suburbs, were feeding upon his bowels. With cries of horror, several of the mob drove them away; but the Roman Centurion, whom Pilate had ordered to crucify Jesus for the Jews, directed four of his soldiers to convey the hideous corpse from sight, and see that it was either burned or buried.

      "If," said Rabbi Amos to John, who now rejoined him, "if the accuses of Jesus are to be punished like this man, this will be a fearful day for the men of Jerusalem. Judas, the betrayer, dies before his victim dies, and by his own hand. This looks like Divine retribution, and, as if Jesus were, in truth, the favored Prophet of the Highest."

      Later that same day, on the road from Pilate's hall to Calvary, there came an interruption to the shouts and jeers of the wicked throng who were leading Jesus to the place of crucifixion.20 As they passed a retired spot, they saw at the foot of a lifeless tree, the body of Judas.21 It was a most revolting sight.22 His weight had broken the cord by which he had hanged himself to the tree.23 In falling, his body had been horribly mangled, and dogs were now devouring it.24 His remains were immediately buried out of sight; but there was less mockery among the throng, and many a pale face revealed the thoughts within. Retribution seemed already visiting those who were guilty of the blood of Jesus.25

NOTES

      20 In Dr. Veltman's study this sentence is rated as P2 (simple paraphrase).    Return to text

      21 In Dr. Veltman's study this sentence is rated as P2 (simple paraphrase).    Return to text

      22 In Dr. Veltman's study this sentence is rated as P1 (strict paraphrase).    Return to text

      23 In Dr. Veltman's study this sentence is rated as P1 (strict paraphrase).    Return to text

      24 In Dr. Veltman's study this sentence is rated as P1 (strict paraphrase).    Return to text

      25 In Dr. Veltman's study this sentence is rated as P2 (simple paraphrase).    Return to text

Longest Phrases

      The Roman soldiers  4
      He alone was calm  6
      as his rival  8
      of wild beasts  13
      at the foot of a  21
      the body of  21

Conclusions

      A) When reading web pages that are critical of Ellen G. White and the SDA church it might be helpful to think of an analogy. The one that springs to my mind is that of James Frey and his book "A Million Little Pieces" which was shown to be outright lies on a number of points. So much so, that for a cartoon the book was re-titled "A Million Little Lies".

      B) About a decade ago I was on the web dealing with Bible critics. I was able to show that on a number of points they were wrong in making the claim that the Bible was "filled with errors and contradictions." From that I learned two lessons:

1) When it can be shown that the critics are wrong on simple points then why should they be trusted to be telling the truth on the more complex matters?
2) How many times does a web site or critics have to be shown to be wrong before they are simply dismissed because they can't be trusted?

      When reading web pages that are critical of Ellen G. White and the SDA church one should keep the above points in mind at all times.

Index page

© David J. Conklin (December 31, 2005 - February 14, 2006)