Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Craft of Dishonest Quotation - 6

Continuing our examination of the staggering dishonest with which Gail Riplinger treats the words of those whe disagrees with, we come to quote abuse type:

3. When a quotation is manufactured out of sentence fragments taken from diverse sources, including multiple books, yet presented as if it were from a single context.

This is probably the most common abuse of quotations that Mrs. Riplinger is guilty of. Of course, these composite quotations are constructed of phrases taken out of context, and often constitute new and misleading contexts.

There are many examples of this, but among the worst is that which appears on P. 187. Here Riplinger gives the following manufactured[1] Westcott quote:

“[T]he knowledge of Christ… has its analogues in human power… the Son of Man gives the measure of the capacity of humanity… nothing implies that the knowledge of the Lord was supernatural.”

The footnote refers us to: Historic Faith Pp. 258-259; John, pp. 66, 46. This should immediately set alarm bells ringing, for this is not a single quotation, or even from a single book, let alone a single context. From Westcott’s John she has selected “nothing implies that the knowledge of the Lord was supernatural” from P. 66, and “[T]he knowledge of Christ… has its analogues in human power” from P. 46. The rest of the matter appears to be derived from Historic Faith, but the page reference given appears to be incorrect, and I have been unable to locate the correct reference. Even if these three places were dealing with the same subject, it is not correct to string the words together as though the distance between “nothing implies that the knowledge of the Lord was supernatural” and “[T]he knowledge of Christ” was the same as that between “[T]he knowledge of Christ” and “has its analogues in human power,” to say nothing as to the impropriety of manufacturing a quotation from elements found in different books! Nor is Westcott discussing in any of these places the question of human knowledge, but the question of Jesus’ knowledge during His time on earth! The quotation, “nothing implies that the knowledge of the Lord was supernatural” is in fact in relation to Jesus knowing a specific fact, namely that “the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John.”[2] It has nothing at all to say about Jesus knowledge of information at other times!

P. 260 contains the following composite quotation that appears to be a single, if edited, quotation:

“[It is] significant that the original only gives ‘words’ without the definite article… the religions of the world surrender to a supreme king. … and are not far from the Kingdom.”

Only by consulting the notes is it apparent that this too is not a complete quotation, but is drawn from three different places, and three completely different contexts. The first part comes from Life ii. P. 72, where it is part of a criticism of an essay by another man. The second fragment comes from History of Religious Thought P. 358, in context it reads:

“[I]f, on the other hand, it is obvious that the religions of the world each touched the hearts of men by a power of order or devotion, of sympathy with nature or of surrender to a supreme King, then each prae-Christian [sic] religion becomes a witness to the Faith which combines these manifold powers in a final unity.”

First of all, the passage simply does not say what Riplinger wants it to say, that “the religions of the world surrender to a supreme King,” but that the religions of the world each seek that which Christianity only supplies. Secondly, she has omitted almost twenty words between “the religions of the world” and “surrender” in order to manufacture out of Westcott’s words what she wants him to say, and that without indicating it! The final words “and are not far from the Kingdom” come from Historic Faith P. 54. The immediate context is as follows:

“It is a truism to say that Christianity is a belief in Christ, but is it not a forgotten truism? We honour with ungrudging admiration those who labour with zeal and patience to shield the weak from injury, the poor from want, and the ignorant from temptation; who hope to elevate the condition of our artisans by giving their opinion the responsibility of power, and to discipline the improvident by ideas of comfort and self-respect: those who investigate the problems of religious thought, and seek to shew how circumstances of time and place call out this and that want, this and that belief, and lay open the manifold elements of truth which give whatever stability and strength to the religions of the world: those who in lonely meditation strive to reconnect man’s spirit to its source. Such are not far from the Kingdom of God; but as yet they are not Christians.
“Christianity is not philanthropy, or philosophy or mysticism.”[3]

In context what Westcott is saying is about individual persons, not “the religions of the world.” It is part of a passage denying the identification of Christianity with “philanthropy, or philosophy or mysticism,” an identification Riplinger also would deny. In fact, Westcott is asserting the necessity of faith in Christ for a person to be identified as a Christian! By taking two sentence fragments out of context, Riplinger has created a quotation that is simply false. If anyone objects that Westcott did believe what the fraudulent quotation says, it is incumbent upon that person to prove it. In fact, If Westcott had believed this and taught it (and the only way to know Westcott believed it is if he taught it), it would not have been necessary for Riplinger to manufacture a quotation for the purpose.

Additional Note: Did Westcott lose his voice?

Since writing the section on Westcott's supposed losing his voice, I have discovered new evidence that proves conclusively that Riplinger's quotations do not prove that Westcott lost his voice. On P. 448 Riplinger claims that Westcott lost his voice, citing quotations from Westcott’s biography, claiming:
“Westcott’s biographer cites that in 1858 ‘he was quite inaudible’ and by 1870 ‘his voice reached few and was understood by still fewer…’”

We are referred to P. 198 and P. 272 of Arthur Westcott’s Life and Letters of B.F. Westcott for these quotations. What strikes one on examination of these is first of all that both are from Westcott’s earlier life, not later (both relate to his time as a schoolmaster at Harrow), leading one to wonder if he had in fact never had the voice Riplinger suggests he had lost. On referring to P. 272, we find that Riplinger has omitted a most important part of the passage she is quoting. The full passage is as follows:

“His voice was not yet a force in the chapel. It reached but a few, and it was understood by still fewer.”

Riplinger omits the suggestive not yet. It would be more accurate to say, then, that Westcott found his voice, rather than lost it! This impression is confirmed by Arthur Westcott, who writes in Life P. 302:

“His voice did, as he had anticipated, marvellously improve with practice, and he who in earlier life had not dared to preach in a large church was not afraid in his advanced years of preaching in St Paul’s Cathedral or York Minster, and made himself fairly audible even in the Albert Hall, by reason of the great pains he bestowed on distinct articulation.”

There is no evidence Westcott lost his voice (otherwise Riplinger would have quoted it), and all the evidence shows that he in fact developed his voice. So why has Riplinger invented this spurious fact? Because she wants to give the impression that Westcott was under some sort of divine judgement for his work on the Revised Version and the new edition Greek New Testament. Thus, unable to find any real 'judgement' she can cite, she claims he lost his voice, when he did not! Ironically his gaining his voice coincides with his work on the Greek N.T., but that's another matter entirely!

[1] I use the word not because Westcott did not write the words, but because Westcott did not put them together as they appear in NABV
[2] John 4.1
[3] Emphasis in original. I have given a more than usually full citation to ensure that no-one will claim that I am misrepresenting Westcott.

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