Thou shalt not plagiarize: Eighth commandment violation results in retraction

htscoverThe author of a scholarly work on Christian theology — in particular, that dealing with what the Bible has to say about the relationship of Christians with Jews and other non-believers in Christ — has lost the article for violating the Eighth Commandment. (Or Seventh, depending which version of said commandments you read.)

The paper, “Social identity, ethnicity and the gospel of reconciliation,” was written by Jason Goroncy, of the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership, in Dunedin, New Zealand, and the Department of Practical Theology at the University of Pretoria, in South Africa. It appeared in the journal Theological Studies (also known as HTS Teologiese Studies).

The abstract states:

This article attends to the relationship between our ethnic, social and cultural identities, and the creation of the new communal identity embodied in the Christian community. Drawing upon six New Testament texts – Ephesians 2:11–22; Galatians 3:27–28, 1 Corinthians 7:17–24 and 10:17, 1 Peter 2:9–11 and Revelation 21:24–26 – it is argued that the creation of a new and prime identity in Christ does not abrogate other creaturely identities, even as it calls for the removal of such as boundary markers. Catholicity, in other words, is intrinsically related to the most radical particularity, and demands an ongoing work of discernment and of judgement vis-à-vis the gospel itself. Those baptised into Christ are now to live in the reality of Christ who is both the boundary and centre of their existence, a boundary which includes all humanity in its cultural, ethnic, gendered, social and historical particularities.

That boundary also includes proper attribution of reference material.

According to the retraction notice:

This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief.

Reason: It has come to light that a small section of text in this article was inadvertently copied verbatim without due acknowledgement to the source. Apologies are offered to readers of the journal.

Thus, it is unwritten.

We’re pretty sure the source of the text wasn’t the New Testament itself, which entered the public domain, oh, about 1900 years ago. Speaking of scripture, here’s what the first passage mentioned in the article, Ephesians 2:11-22, is all about:

11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

4 thoughts on “Thou shalt not plagiarize: Eighth commandment violation results in retraction”

  1. “We’re pretty sure the source of the text wasn’t the New Testament itself, which entered the public domain, oh, about 1900 years ago.”

    Actually, most translations are under copyright protection. For instance, podcasters have been threatened with legal action by the USCCB for unlicensed use of the NAB translation (such as for reading aloud the scripture readings for an upcoming Sunday mass).

    1. Wow, this is interesting. Who exactly owns the copyright on the Bible and the Koran? It is clear that they sell millions of copies, so who is making the profits and gholding the copyright? I am sure that God and Allah do not hold CC licenses.

      1. It’s really complicated. Translations are regularly copyrighted. In the UK the King James Bible is held on perpetual copyright be the crown. My understanding is that some versions of the “original” languages are copyrighted by scholars who reconstructed them.

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