Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Pressures of Plagiarism, Part Five

Plagiarism is an especially a strange concept when we dive into the pool of Biblical interpretation. My theologian brothers and sisters in academia may not like to hear this, but at the end of the day it may be so. 

Is it really right to say that Professor Such&Such is responsible for an interpretation of Scripture when in fact the Holy Spirit had given that truth to us two thousand years ago through Paul, Peter, James or John?

This is especially a question when we approach Scripture with the belief that there is one true interpretation of most passages. To give one person the credit for the correct interpretation of a passage seems to grant them perhaps too much authority and comes close to ranking them next to the original author.

Is it really possible for any of us to claim ownership of ideas found in the Scripture? Or is it more likely that all of us should claim ownership of what is in the Bible? I’m in favor of citing sources and giving honor to those who went before, but in truth every good idea is built on thousands of years of good ideas...and several bad ones as well.

If we had to cite every one responsible for our own limited intelligence displayed in a single message it would sound like the listing of possible negative side-effects read off during a pharmaceutical commercial, and the sermons would be just as interesting.


Steve said...

Even Jesus didn't take credit. "My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me... He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself'" - John 7:16,18 Our task is not to be original, but faithful to the message entrusted to us and to transmit it without distortion as much as we possibly can. "...I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them." -John 17:8 The person who has something fresh to say is usually the one who has approached the Scriptures with serious attentiveness, not casually and carelessly. Teachers quoting one another at the expense of going deeply to the source end up with teaching distorted by their own cultural baggage and 2000 years of indefensibly tragic church history.

Steve said...

PS I'm not disputing this blog. I am in complete agreement. It is not logical to claim ownership of any particular interpretation. That is the point of my statement that "even Jesus didn't take credit."