06-14-2004, 05:21 AM
THE REAL EYE OPENER:
J. J. Ray's Plagiarism
Of Benjamin G. Wilkinson
by Gary R. Hudson
[Originally printed in Baptist Biblical Heritage, Spring, 1991]
From J. J. Ray, Eye Opener Publishers, God Wrote Only One Bible, p. 18: “Those who were corrupting Bible manuscripts said that they were correcting them. Corrupted copies were so prevalent that agreement between them was hopeless.”
From Benjamin G. Wilkinson, Seventh-day Adventist, Our Authorized Bible Vindicated, p. 15: “...corrupted manuscripts were so prevalent that agreement between the copies was hopeless; and that those who were corrupting the Scriptures, claimed that they were really correcting them.”
Several months ago, I ordered a copy of the book, God Wrote Only One Bible (copyright 1955, 1970; renewed 1983, Eye Opener Publishers, P. O. Box 7944, Eugene, Oregon 97401) by Jasper James Ray. Ray’s book represents one of the earliest advocacies of King James Onlyism, and has been a favorite of the movement for many years. Having lost the copy I once owned back in my “Ruckmanite” days, I couldn’t see my current collection of KJO literature being without one.
Ray’s book attempts to trace what he terms “two streams of Bibles” back through a highly subjective (and often inaccurate) history of New Testament manuscripts, one line being “corrupt” and the other “the Bible God wrote.” The one “God wrote” is, according to Ray, the “Textus Receptus” Greek of the KJV. (Incidentally, textual scholars recognize four distinct text types dating from antiquity, not simply “two streams” of manuscripts). Perhaps the book is best known for its list of “omissions from the modern Bibles,” where Ray makes any omission from the TR/KJV equivalent to an omission from the original autographs. Any clear-thinking person can readily detect the level of circular reasoning in such a tactic. One heretical twist of Ray is to make the “Textus Receptus” essential to “saving faith” and “regeneration” (pp. 9-10, 15, 122), asserting that modern versions “cannot save” (p. 3), thus adding the TR/KJV as an essential element of the gospel (Gal. 1:6-9). Printed over a somewhat “tacky” format, the book runs 122 pages of seven short chapters.
So, the day came recently when my copy of God Wrote Only One Bible arrived. Opening and thumbing-through to the charts on pages 71 and 109, my eyes immediately fell on a problem. On page 71, Ray has a chart of the “corrupt” line of Bibles which includes Jerome’s Latin Vulgate of 382 A. D. and the Douay version of 1582. Then on page 109, Ray includes the Wycliff translation of 1382 in his “pure stream” that allegedly descends from the “Original Textus Receptus.” Ray has not done his homework. A smattering of knowledge on the history of the English Bible would reveal to anyone that Wycliff’s Bible was translated directly from the Roman Catholic Latin Vulgate, as was the Douay. Such carelessness on basic information is inexcusable.
As I continued reading Ray’s material, something kept seeming familiar. I was reading pages 15-28 and glancing occasionally down at the footnotes. Then, I thought perhaps it was the style of font in the footnotes that seemed familiar. And then it suddenly hit me--ah ha!--why, it’s old Benjamin G. Wilkinson all over again! Those of you who have been receiving Baptist Biblical Heritage can remember the expose’ we did of David O. Fuller’s concealment of Wilkinson’s identity as a Seventh-Day Adventist, whom Fuller used for half the material in Which Bible?. Having researched Wilkinson’s background and book, I was able to recognize his material in God Wrote Only One Bible, plagiarized, evidently, by J. J. Ray.
Plagiarism, by definition, is to take one’s writings or ideas from another and to pass them off as one’s own (Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition). No one, including Mr. Ray, should take the charge of plagiarism lightly. Regarding the recent discovery of the plagiarisms of Martin Luther King Jr., Time recently stated, “Plagiarism proclaims no majestic flaw of character but a trait, pathetic, that makes you turn aside in embarrassment. It belongs to the same run down neighborhood as obscene phone calls or shoplifting” (Lance Morrow, Time’s “Essay,” 12/3/90. p. 126).
With a certified letter dated November 19, 1990, we mailed Eye Opener Publishers (Ray’s publishers) documented proof of Mr. Ray’s plagiarisms of Seventh-day Adventist author, Benjamin G. Wilkinson. These enclosures consisted of photocopies of pages 15, 16, 20, 21, 22, 33, 37, 152, and 252-253 from Our Authorized Bible Vindicated (copyright 1930) by Wilkinson arranged in parallel comparisons to copies of pages 18, 19, 20, 29, 93, and 98 of God Wrote Only One Bible by Ray. The signed receipt was returned on November 28, 1990 (proving that they accepted our materials), but no reply has since come forth. It was made clear in our letter that we intended to make public these charges of Ray’s plagiarisms of Wilkinson. [We have since learned that J. J. Ray is deceased, but this still does not explain the silence of his publisher/distributor on these matters.]
As previously mentioned, Ray’s plagiarisms of Wilkinson surfaced initially as I was reading the footnotes in his book. Many of these footnotes, giving the appearance of being the result of the author’s (Ray’s) research, were obviously copied from the pages of Wilkinson’s work. The eight footnotes on page 19 by Mr. Ray are perhaps the best example of this, where seven out of eight were taken directly from Wilkinson. Footnotes numbering 1-7 of God Wrote Only One Bible are copied directly from seven footnotes in Our Authorized Bible Vindicated, pp. 20, 21, and 22.
This same phenomenon occurs with other footnotes in Ray’s book. Footnotes #1 and #3 on page 18, read, “Encyclopedia, Tatian.” This was taken from Wilkinson, page 16, footnote #19, which reads, “Encyclopedias, ‘Tatian’.” Like Wilkinson, Ray does not give the page number nor reveal the “Encyclopedia” used. Apparently, Mr. Ray simply took the Adventist’s word rather than checking the reference for himself. Footnote #2 of Ray on page 18 reads, “Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Book 5, chap. 28,” obviously taken from footnote #18 of Wilkinson on page 15, which reads, Eusebius, Eccles. History, Book V., Chap 28.” On this last point, Ray not only took the footnote from Wilkinson but transposed two of Wilkinson’s statements on page 15 of Our Authorized Bible Vindicated (which Ray put on page 18 of his book), slightly altering some of the wording regarding Wilkinson’s use of the reference. Other instances include footnotes #1 and #2 on page 20 of Ray that were taken from footnotes #5 and #32, pages 21 and 33 of Wilkinson; and footnotes #2 and #3 on page 98 of Ray were taken from footnotes #43 and #44, page 37 of Wilkinson. Again, Mr. Ray didn’t do his homework--not his own, at least!
In his “Introduction,” Ray clearly wanted his readers to think that his book was entirely a result of his own research. He wrote:
“For years the writer was held in this net [“Textual Criticism”] of diabolical trickery. Then, one wonderful day, God opened his eyes to behold a ray of light which led out of the dark dilemma. Months and years of research followed, and this book is the result. Conclusions are not based upon the author’s judgment, but upon the investigation of more trustworthy sources which are referred to in the foot-notes where applicable” (Ray, ibid., “Introduction”; emphasis ours).
This statement along with the evidence of clear plagiarisms presented in this article compound Ray’s deception as very deliberate. He clearly tried to give his readers the impression that he had done his own research and that his book was the result. But this is NOT the truth. Mr. Ray’s “ray of light,” as he calls it, was actually Benjamin G. Wilkinson, without whose work Ray’s book would have never existed.
Should the reader still have doubts of Ray’s plagiarism of Wilkinson, the following comparison should settle the question:
Ray, page 29: “Westcott writes from France to his fiancée in 1847: ‘After leaving the monastery, we shaped our course to a little oratory which we discovered on the summit of a neighboring hill....Fortunately we found the door open. It is very small, with one kneeling-place; and behind a screen was a ‘Pieta’ the size of life (i. e. a Virgin and dead Christ)....Had I been alone I could have knelt there for hours.’”
Wilkinson, page 152: “WESTCOTT writes from France to his fiancée, 1847: ‘After leaving the monastery, we shaped our course to a little oratory which we discovered on the summit of a neighboring hill.... Fortunately we found the door open. It is very small, with one kneeling-place; and behind a screen was a ‘Pieta’ the size of life (i. e. a Virgin and a dead Christ)....Had I been alone I could have knelt there for hours.’”
Let the reader note several points on the above. First, Ray quotes his information and words from Westcott in the identical way of Wilkinson, even to the point of using four periods (“....”) to indicate partial quotation in the same places Wilkinson did. Secondly, the words in parenthesis, “i. e. a Virgin and a dead Christ” are Wilkinson’s, not Ray’s! Thirdly, in the footnotes at the bottom of Ray’s above page, he miscopied “Life of Westcott, Vol. I, p. 51” from Wilkinson. This last point is evident by looking at Wilkinson’s footnotes where the first part, “Life of Westcott, Vol. I” is correct, but instead of “p. 51” Wilkinson has “p. 400”: Ray mistakenly took “p. 51” from Wilkinson’s lower footnote reference to “Life of Hort, Vol. II” given as “p. 51”! THAT is sure proof that Ray copied Wilkinson’s footnotes and material rather than investigated Wilkinson’s references firsthand.
Further evidence of Ray’s plagiarisms are as follows:
Ray, p. 98: “...translated not later than 157 A.D. and was known as the Italic Version. The renowned scholar Beza, states that the Italic Church dates from 120 A.D.”
Wilkinson, p. 35: “The Latin Bible, the italic, was translated from the Greek not later than 157 A.D. We are indebted to Beza, the renowned associate of Calvin, for the statement that the Italic Church dates from 120 A.D.”
Ray, p. 98: “Allix, an outstanding scholar testifies that enemies had corrupted many manuscripts, while the Italic Church handed them down in their apostolic purity.”
Wilkinson, p. 36: “That Rome in early days corrupted the manuscripts while the Italic Church handed them down in their apostolic purity, Allix, the renowned scholar, testifies.”
Ray, p. 98: “Dr. Nolan, who acquired fame for his Greek and Latin scholarship, spent 28 years in tracing the Received Text back to its apostolic origin. His searching led him to investigate Bible texts of the Waldenses, who were the lineal descendents of the Italic Church.”
Wilkinson, p. 40: “Dr. Nolan, who had already acquired fame for his Greek and Latin scholarship...spent twenty-eight years to trace back the Received Text to its apostolic origin...Christians of northern Italy whose lineal descendants the Waldenses were...”
In addition to the above is the Wilkinson idea concerning how “HISTORICALLY ONLY TWO STREAMS OF BIBLES HAVE COME DOWN TO US,” expressed by Ray on page 15. This was clearly borrowed from Wilkinson’s almost identical section title in Our Authorized Bible Vindicated, page 12, concerning what the Adventist stated as "FUNDAMENTALLY, THERE ARE ONLY TWO STREAMS OF BIBLES.”
No, Mr. Ray did not take many years of his own time and research to produce his book. It took him no longer to do “research” than it took him to read an older, out-of-print, 1930 work written by a Seventh-day Adventist! This was his “ray of light” that hit him one day. Mr. Ray’s story about how “God opened his eyes” was actually his “Damascus Road experience” with a book by an Adventist!
Doug Kutilek has already documented many of Wilkinson’s inaccuracies in a previously published article (see “Wilkinson’s Incredible Errors” by Doug Kutilek on this website). But, Mr. Ray has picked up some of Wilkinson’s errors and invented a few of his own. For examples note the following:
“At first the only scriptures in existance[sic] were those given by inspiration of God (2 Peter 1:21). These messages were put into writing, and when placed into book form they became Bible number one, the true Word of God” (Ray, p. 15). Ray teaches that the original inspired manuscripts were compiled into “book form,” which of course they never were. Ray repeats this error on page 97.
“Other manuscripts like them [Vaticanus and Sinaiticus] were not considered canonical and were discarded by the scholars who gave us the King James Bible” (Ray, p. 20). Manuscripts are not “canonical,” only books.
“It has been acknowledged, even by some enemies, that nineteen-twentieths of these manuscripts [all known mss.] are in accord with the Received Text (The Textus Receptus)” (Ray, p. 27). The TR is not based on the majority of manuscripts (see my article, “Why Dean Burgon Would Not Join The Dean Burgon Society” on this website). And, we’ll give our readers one guess where Mr. Ray got his misinformation on the “admission” of the “enemies” about “nineteen-twentieths” of the manuscripts agreeing with the TR--you guessed it-- Wilkinson (Our Authorized Bible Vindicated, page 13)!
“Dean Burgon, a learned textual critic and collator of Manuscripts, Presbendary Miller, Dr. Scrivener and others, uphold the Textus Receptus because of the immense number of manuscripts which are in agreement with it” (Ray, pp. 27-28). In fact, the exact opposite is true. All three of these men were very outspokenly against defending the “Textus Receptus” because of the very reason that it does NOT reflect the majority of manuscripts (again, see our Burgon articles).
“In the case of the Bible, it is the translation only that is the subject of revision” (Ray, p. 30). This is grossly wrong and contrary to historical fact. Every edition of the Greek Textus Receptus from Erasmus to Beza to Elzevir went through multiple revisions as the Greek text continues to do so down to this very day.
“Such a confusing situation is not new, for this well describes the teaching of Origen, the world’s most outspoken theologian of the first century a. d.” (Ray, p. 73). Ray has previously stated accurately that Origen lived from 185-254 A. D. (p. 18). Either Ray forgot what he knew earlier in his book or he mistakes “first century a. d.” for the time period he previously ascribed to Origen.
“In a few years the Syrian believers could be numbered by the thousands. Their Bible, the Peshitta, even today, generally follows the Received Text” (Ray, p. 97). The Peshitta most certainly does not reflect the TR in numerous readings (see Doug Kutilek’s article, “The Truth About the Waldensian Bible and the Old Latin Version" on this website). And, as expected, Ray took this misinformation directly from Wilkinson’s book (Our Authorized Bible Vindicated, p. 25).
“For a moment let us suppose that a copyist did insert Acts 8:37 into the text. Has he injected any phase of Bible doctrine that is in any whit contrary to any of God’s revelation? Not one iota” (Ray, p. 105). Let the reader observe carefully what Ray is saying. Of course he defends Acts 8:37 in the TR, which is not supported by the best manuscript evidence. But, in his defense of the disputed verse, he clearly justifies it even in terms of an insertion into the Greek text on the basis of it being consistent with Bible doctrine! This would open the door to other suggested insertions into the text, and would render the purity of the original useless! It is no wonder that some men of Ray’s KJO school who make the KJV a guide to textual criticism wind up justifying the KJV as “infallible” over the Greek itself, all in the name of being consistent with “Bible doctrine” and “advanced light.”
A comparison of pages 34 and 53 in Ray’s book reveals a most misleading idea about Luther’s German translation. On page 34, Ray listed Luther’s German New Testament as not omitting I John 5:7. On page 53, Ray listed I John 5:7 as not being absent from Luther’s translation which he numbered on page 34. This is a blatant error. Luther’s does indeed omit this verse because he based his translation on Erasmus’ second edition Greek text containing the omission.
Another discovery, to my surprise, in Ray’s book was the origin of the King James “preservation” argument that applies Psalm 12:6-7 to the TR/KJV. Historically, expositors (including Spurgeon) took this passage in its immediate context to be applicable to God’s preservation of the “poor” and “needy” in v. 5, not the “words” of v. 6 (see the article by Doug Kutilek, “Why Psalm 12:6-7 Is Not A Promise Of The Infallible Preservation of Scripture,” which demonstrates this from the Hebrew grammatical construction of the passage). Even among the few commentators who took v. 7 as referring to the “words” of v. 6, we do not find one of them who has given the present-day KJO interpretation of making the “words” refer to the Textus Receptus or the KJV in particular. It was not until 1930 that any writer anywhere on the planet made Psalm 12:6-7 refer to a particular text or version of the Bible. That “writer” to first do so was Seventh-day Adventist, Benjamin G. Wilkinson, who also had his Scripture-twisting plagiarized by Jasper James Ray so that it would be pawned-off on a generation of fundamental Baptists. Observe:
J. J. Ray, page 93: “God has magnified His Word above all His name, (Psalm 138:2). The created worlds magnify the exalted name of Christ. But God has magnified His Word above all these. A man is no better than his word. If God’s Word could be broken, His name would be worthless. The Words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt ‘KEEP THEM,’ O Lord, thou shalt ‘PRESERVE THEM’ from this generation for ever, (Psalm 12:6-7)” (emphasis his).
Wilkinson, pages 252-253: “The Psalmist wrote: ‘Thou hast magnified thy Word above all thy name.’ The created worlds magnify the exalted name of the Eternal. But God has magnified His Word above all these...A man is no better then his word; if one fails to command confidence, so does the other...’The words of the Lord are pure words,’ says the Psalmist, ‘as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve every one of them (margin) from this generation forever.’ Psalm 12:6-7.”
Both books (Ray’s and Wilkinson’s) are written in defense of the “Textus Receptus” used for “Our Authorized Bible” and both agree that this text is THE “pure stream” of God’s “preserved words” from the autographs. Both books apply Ps. 12:6-7 in this context, and the book published at a later date, Ray’s (1955), copied the exact idea from the earlier one, Wilkinson’s (1930)! J. J. Ray was in fact a plagiarist and his book is a near complete fraud.
Various false claims made by the King James Only movement have come from the pages of Ray’s book, including the misapplication of Psalm 12:6-7. Most of these errors have now been traced to their concealed source, the work of Seventh-day Adventist and SDA College President Benjamin G. Wilkinson, who was later used by Fuller for half the contents of his book, Which Bible? (see our article, “The Great Which Bible? Fraud,” and Doug Kutilek’s article, “The Unlearned Men” on this website for more information). Hence, I wish to coin a new term, Wilkinsonianism. It matters not WHO teaches it or has taught it, whether it is Ray, Fuller, Waite, Ruckman, Bynum, Riplinger, David Cloud, Jewell Smith, Sam Gipp, Jack Chick, Jack Hyles, Bob Gray, Bruce Lackey, or Mickey Carter, when Ps. 12:6-7 is applied exclusively to the "Textus Receptus” and KJV it is purely Wilkinsonian. When anyone of this group makes the claim that the “Old Latin Bible” was the “Received Text of the Waldenses” it is Wilkinsonian. When anyone of this group claims the Syriac Peshitta as “matching” or "nearly the same” as the “Textus Receptus” it is Wilkinsonian. When any one in this group tries to give the false impression that the “Textus Receptus” used for the KJV is based upon the “majority of manuscripts” (“nineteen-twentieths”) it is Wilkinsonian.
So we now have documented two polluted pipelines of Wilkinson’s errors into the fundamental Baptist movement of the 20th-21st centuries. The first is God Wrote Only One Bible by J. J. Ray, who plagiarized Wilkinson’s words and ideas as his own and covered his use of the Adventist writer by not crediting Wilkinson as his main source. Wilkinson’s second polluted pipeline of inaccuracy and Scripture twisting is Which Bible? by David Otis Fuller, who credited Wilkinson but concealed his identity by removing Wilkinson’s footnotes to Ellen G. White, the official “prophetess” of the Adventist movement. Any King James Only advocates now aware of such “contamination” will only continue to drink from Ray and Fuller’s Wilkinsonian conduits out of their own willful ignorance and self-deception.
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