Did Ellen White Plagiarize?
Frederic Farrar, William Hanna, Ellen White
A comparative study

by Ulrike



Ellen White has been accused of copying her book "Desire of Ages" from other writers. Two of her principle sources being identified as Frederic Farrar's book, "The Life of Christ" and Willaim Hanna's book, "The Lord's Life on Earth", I decided to purchase these books.
The impression is often made by Ellen White's critics that she copied whole pages, up to 80% of the book, yet no real evidence was presented. Walter Rea matched up some phrases, but what does that prove? Won't people writing about the same incident in the Biblical narratives be speaking of similar events and even use similar phrases? I thought to myself-- I bet if I took a book written by an author of a different denomination on the Life of Christ, who wrote AFTER Ellen White wrote Desire of Ages, thus making it well nigh impossible that plagairism occured, that I could still find similar "evidence" which some people use to accuse her of plagiarism!

So I pulled down a book by Charles Edward Forlines (1947 Abingdon-Cokesbury Press) called "Finding God Through Christ".
Charles (who I think was a Methodist) graduated 1897-- received B.Theology in 1901, became teacher in Western Maryland College in 1905 and in 1935 became president of the Westminster Theological Seminary Westminster, Maryland. The book was published after his death and is a collection of his manuscripts.

Sure enough -- as I randomly selected and scanned one chapter I could see many similarities with Desire of Ages!! Amazing!! I knew Ellen White did not "plagiarize" from this man whose book came out some thirty years after her death?

Yet LOOK:

Page 109 of Forlines book:

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"To hasten the death of the malefactors, the soldiers broke their limbs. They did not break the limbs of Jesus, because he was already dead. They did, however, thrust a spear into his side. After this there could be no doubt about the reality of death. There came forth from his side both blood and water. This was a great revelation. Dead men do not bleed. Whence, then, this blood and water? Only a literally broken heart seems an adequate explanation. Jesus was dead, having died of a broken heart."
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NOW look at page 771-772 in Desire of Ages

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"His consent having been obtained, the legs of the two thieves were broken to hasten their death; but Jesus was found to be already dead. .... The priests wished to make sure of the death of Jesus, and at their suggestion a soldier thrust a spear into the Savior's side. From the wound thus made, there flowed two copious and distinct streams, one of blood, the other of water. This was noted by all the beholders, ......... They broke not His legs, because He was already dead. To satisfy the priests, they pierced His side. Had not life been already extinct, this wound would have caused instant death. It was not the spear thrust, it was not the pain of the cross...the stream of blood and water that flowed from His side, declared that He died of a broken heart.

Yet, I know EGW did NOT have this man's book to "plagiarize" from. So we must not assume that just because two people are speaking of the same Biblical events and use some of the same words that they are plagiarizing.

Chapter 75 of Desire of Ages was said to have "a lot of copying" in it, so I chose that chapter for the comparative study with the two books (by Farrar and Hanna) which Ellen White had in her library.

You will find these studies by clicking on these headings:

Chapter 75, The first trial, before Annas
Chapter 75, The second trial, before Caiaphas
Chapter 75, Peter at the Trial
Chapter 75, The Third Trial before the Sanhedrin

Rather than find similar phrases and post them in parallel style, I will post the whole chapter of each writer, lining up the sections where they speak of the same Biblical event and highlighting simular phrases. In this way the reader can see not only the similarities but the differences.

I would urge you to take note, as well, of the many simularities between Farrar and Hanna. If one had the mind to do so, I suppose one could accuse them of plagiarizing from each other!

But, first maybe a person should read the accounts from the Bible,
because all three of them are relating the Biblical study.

MATTHEW
26.57 And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.
26.58 But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest's palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.
26.59 Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;
26.60 But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses,
26.61 And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.
26.62 And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?
26.63 But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.
26.64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
26.65 Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.
26.66 What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.
26.67 Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands,
26.68 Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?
26.69 Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.
26.70 But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.
26.71 And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth.
26.72 And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.
26.73 And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee.
26.74 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.
26.75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.
27.1 When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death:
27.2 And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.

MARK
14.53 And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes.
14.54 And Peter followed him afar off, even into the palace of the high priest: and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire.
14.55 And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none.
14.56 For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together.
14.57 And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying,
14.58 We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.
14.59 But neither so did their witness agree together.
14.60 And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?
14.61 But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?
14.62 And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
14.63 Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses?
14.64 Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death.
14.65 And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands.
14.66 And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest:
14.67 And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth.
14.68 But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew.
14.69 And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them.
14.70 And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto.
14.71 But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak.
14.72 And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.
15.1 And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate.

LUKE
22.54 Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest's house. And Peter followed afar off.
22.55 And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them.
22.56 But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him.
22.57 And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not.
22.58 And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not.
22.59 And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean.
22.60 And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.
22.61 And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
22.62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.
22.63 And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him.
22.64 And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee?
22.65 And many other things blasphemously spake they against him.
22.66 And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council, saying,
22.67 Art thou the Christ? tell us. And he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe:
22.68 And if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go.
22.69 Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God.
22.70 Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am.
22.71 And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth.
23.1 And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate.

JOHN
18.13 And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.
18.14 Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.
18.15 And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest.
18.16 But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter.
18.17 Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Art not thou also one of this man's disciples? He saith, I am not.
18.18 And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself.
18.19 The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine.
18.20 Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing.
18.21 Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said.
18.22 And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so?
18.23 Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?
18.24 Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest.
18.25 And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not.
18.26 One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did not I see thee in the garden with him?
18.27 Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew.
18.28 Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.
146 As of May 15, 2003