Friday, September 18, 2009

The Craft of Dishonest Quotation - 2

Yesterday I began a series on the use of quotations in New Age Bible Versions. That was in the way of an introduction, and this post completes the introductory section of this series.

I stated that Riplinger does not prove her thesis, she assumes it. Not only that, she assumes it and cooks the evidence in order to support a predetermined conclusion. I have a degree in Environmental Science, and this sort of trifling with pseudo-science annoys me. I have also written articles for two British Evangelical magazines in which I have dealt with liberalism and Romanism.

I said that, while Riplinger claims to show the connection between modern Bible versions and the New Age mevement, she merely shows they use some of the same words, and then assumes the modern versions are using the words in a New Age sense, something which needs to be proven - that is the question at hand, after all. It should be relatively easy to prove that some one does use certain words in the way the New Age does, and indeed Riplinger quotes liberally from various writers connected with modern Bible versions to back up her thesis. While this gives an appearance of fair and balanced scholarship, it is in fact a matter of appearance only.

It is the responsibility of any author to accurately and fairly represent the views of others, and to give quotations in a fair and unaltered form. It is acceptable to abridge quotations only if the abridgement does not materially alter the meaning of the quotation. Gail Riplinger ignores this canon of writing completely. While I suspected that she had not been completely honest in her use of the writings of others, I was not prepared for the shocking nature of her widespread and cavalier abuse of the words of others. Her use of quotations is horribly unfair. Instead of giving quotes in context, she often rips sentence fragments out of context, and strings them together to form the sentence she requires. Sometimes this is done by taking fragments from widely-separated contexts, including different books, and giving them as if they were from one context. In this series I will give representative examples of the main types of these abuses of quotations. I will first give Riplinger’s version, with some commentary, and then the actual quotation or quotations from Westcott which she has abused.

Although it is possible that Riplinger does not know how to give a quotation, the fact that she has Masters degrees and has taught at a university level makes this rather unlikely, as does the fact that elsewhere she shows an ability to give a quotation correctly. I have focused on the quotes given from B.F. Westcott. This was initially because I happened to possess several volumes of Westcott’s, his commentaries and his Essays in the History of Religious Thought in the West. As I began to examine Riplinger’s quotations, I found that her use of these volumes was more than a little questionable. This led me to obtain the Life and Letters of B.F. Westcott, and Westcott’s The Historic Faith, two further books that Riplinger quoted often. I made a full examination of Riplinger’s use of Westcott’s works, and I present the significant results here. Sometimes I have been unable to find Mrs. Riplinger’s quotation on the page given in her notes, but given that I have found more than half-a-dozen places where the page numbers given are definitely wrong, as the quotation is on another page in the book referenced (and three cases where no page number is given at all), I am prepared in all of these cases to allow that the reference given is just wrong, the result of careless editing The most obvious error was a reference to P. 948 in a book with only 250 pages! It should have been to Pp. 94-8. Owing to the widespread abuse of quotations I will document, I have been unwilling to trust those quotations that I have not been able to trace.

Next time, God willing, we shall begin to look at the actual result of my exhaustive (and exhausting) examination of Riplinger's use of Westcott.

In the meantime, play nice, and hold your horses. The real evidence begins on Monday.

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