"Without being any the less original for it, and without sacrificing his integrity, a genuine artist may borrow the ideas, the themes, the methods, and sometimes even the very words of others, but he must borrow imaginatively if he is to escape censure; he must have such an individual mind that all he borrows is recreated and he must weld his theft into a whole feeling which is unique, utterly different from the source from which it was taken. (William Allan Edwards, "Plagiarism:An Essay on Good and Bad Borrowing" Cambridge, England 1933 p 114)The books of Ellen G. White fulfill the above criteria.
The message which she presented in her books was uniquely hers.
The books comprising the "Great Controversy" series are unique in their message even though borrowing has occured. In these books she outlines the "war" between good and evil as it is played out in history. She looked to reliable history books to fill in details of the historical events shown her in vision. Yet the books are written with a consistant theme which none of the many original sources portrayed.
Yes, we realize that other literary sources were drawn from by Ellen White in her efforts to put to paper the great truths revealed to her.
However, it must also be pointed out that the critics have greatly misrepresented her writings, and overstated their charges.
When two people speak of the same Biblical story and draw lessons from it they WILL use some of the same language.
Surely most readers have sat in church and as the preacher launches into his sermon feel that they have heard it all before? Even though the preacher they are listening to is totally new and is not using the former pastors sermon notes!
Compare this passage, one from Billy Graham's book, "The Jesus Generation" Chapter 13, the other from Ellen White:
Page 162-3 of Graham's book:
NOW look at page 341 in Desire of Ages |
How many parallels can you find? Yet, there is no "plagiarizing". So we must not assume that just because two people are speaking of the same Biblical events and use some of the same words and ideas that they are plagiarizing. If they had both taken the account from Mark, rather than one refering to Luke the other Mark, we would have seen even more similarities!
If Biblical truth is truth-- someone inspired with a message from God will stay with the Biblical truth, not deviate from it.
A while back I "met" an interesting person on the internet forums. He was engaged in an indepth study on the alleged accusation against EGW of "plagiarizing" for the book, Desire of Ages.
David has made several of these studies availabe to us. You can view these at:
David's comparison studies
Good work David!