This is the third in our continuing series on the egregious acts of blatant plagiarism that has come to characterize the series by Mr. Jim Johnson titled, Destroying Free Grace Theology.
Thus far we have had two installments in this series. They are:
Copyright Infringement & Plagiarism, Part 1
Copyright Infringement & Plagiarism, Part 2
In these previous installments we saw how Mr. Johnson plagiarized two works. They were:
1) Ralph Rogers Hawthorne’s, The Significance of the Name of Christ, Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 103, Number 410 April 1946; Number 411, July 1946; Number 412, October 1946.
2) Mario Cerda’s, Subject Determination Involving Proper Articuler Nouns in Equative Clauses, Appendix 6: John 20:30-31, Bible.org
Mr. Johnson’s plagiarism was not limited to simply copying and pasting select portions of the works by Hawthorne and Cerda. Johnson’s abuse of these articles was on a massive scale, with his plagiarizing anywhere from four to over 20 pages at a time. Furthermore, through revisions, additions and deletions Johnson manipulated the writing of these men to make the plagiarized material conform more closely to his own theological views.
INTRODUCTION: WHAT IS THE SOURCE OF JOHNSON’S PLAGIARISM?
The example we are going to review today has more of the same manipulations. This time another *Bibliotheca Sacra (Bib Sac) article was Mr. Johnson’s target.
This time Mr. Johnson chose to plagiarize the very well known commentator: **W. H. Griffith Thomas. Mr. Johnson chose to plagiarize Griffith Thomas’s The Purpose of the Fourth Gospel, Part 1. (Bibliotheca Sacra, 125:499, July 1968) The portion that Johnson plagiarized begins with the sub-section, Seven Key Words in the Purpose and continues through the end of Griffith Thomas’s Bib Sac article.
THE MAGNITUDE OF JOHNSON’S PLAGIARISM
The article in which Mr. Johnson’s newest example of plagiarism appears is once again found in his series, but this time, Destroying Free Grace Theology, Part 3. The point in Johnson’s Part 3 in which he inserts what he plagiarized from Griffith Thomas begins under a sub-heading, Proper Handling of John’s Purpose Statement in the Gospel - John 20:30-31. You will find this section appears about two-thirds of the way down his article and continues through the conclusion.
The magnitude of this plagiarism is almost unimaginable. I want to illustrate just how much of Griffith Thomas was plagiarized by Johnson and how much of Johnson’s Destroying Free Grace Theology, Part 3 is made up of the stolen material.
The word count from Griffith Thomas’s Bib Sac article is approximately 3,700 words. Johnson plagiarized over 1,800 words from Griffith Thomas’s document. That equates to 48% of the Bib Sac article being plagiarized by Mr. Johnson. Now, we find that Destroying, Part 3 by Johnson is approximately 9,000 words. Taking the 1,800 words Johnson plagiarized and dividing that by the 9,000 words in his article we learn that 20% of Johnson’s Destroying, Part 3 is plagiarized material from W. H. Griffith Thomas’s The Purpose of the Fourth Gospel, Part 1..
Think of it: Nearly 50% of an article was plagiarized, and the stolen material made up 20% of the discredited article(s) by Mr. Johnson.
There is no way an honest man can excuse these staggering amounts of plagiarism as innocent mistakes. This is not from a man, “that does not write well.” This level of plagiarism cannot be dismissed as mere, “errors” or “raw thoughts.” Vast amounts of other men’s writing was literally copied, large portions manipulated, and then pasted into his series to make it appear as if it is his own work. With one minor and obscure exception Mr. Johnson did not, in any way, credit or reference the various authors he plagiarized.
Let’s begin Part 3 of Jim Johnson’s Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism:
I am going to follow the same format that I used when detailing how Mr. Johnson plagiarized Mario Cerda’s document. To varying degrees Johnson revised and manipulated every paragraph. The manipulation of Griffith Thomas’s document is not as extensive as what Johnson did to Cerda’s. He largely kept to plagiarizing it verbatim. Following I will provide selected examples from Griffith Thomas’s plagiarized article. Please note that I will post examples of Johnson’s revisions of Griffith Thomas’s plagiarized work in red. Griffith Thomas’s original work will remain in blue. I will insert comments detailing samples of how Johnson manipulated Griffith Thomas’s document. Because some of the plagiarized paragraphs are quite large I will post minimized versions to focus on where Johnson manipulated them.
To reiterate- the blue portions are authentic Griffith Thomas material that was plagiarized. The red portions are how Johnson tweaked and manipulated Griffith Thomas’s writing to disguise the plagiarism.
In relation to articles use of the purpose statement of John in the 20th chapter of his gospel, we need to find as precise meaning to the purpose of John 20:30-31 as possible. It must now be considered in detail text critically and exegetically first. A few observations up front: 1) its definiteness is evident. “These things…in order that.” It is a record (“written”) with a clear object (denoted by the ἵνα structural marker). 2) Its twofold character-first, to lead to personal belief in the historic Jesus as the Christ and Son of God; second, to lead, by believing, to the possession of “life in his name.”… This element of the personal, human life of Jesus Christ is one of the threads running through John’s Gospel.
To show that Jesus is the Son of God is another element of the purpose of the writer. The distinction between this title and that of the Messiah seems to be that the former is wider and includes more than is involved in Messiahship… It is found over seventy times and frequently with a moral meaning. The two aspects of Messiahship and Sonship are found combined in 1:49 and 4:42. (Two sentences by Griffith Thomas [GT] omitted here by Johnson. See below.) A very prominent part of the purpose of the writer is shown in the element of believe. He wrote in order to lead his readers to faith in the historical Jesus as Messiah and Son of God, and it is perfectly clear that every section of the Gospel bears on this definite aim of eliciting faith and illustrates it.
Following are the two sentences Johnson deleted from the paragraph above.
“As Messiah, Jesus unites Christianity with Judaism while as Son of God He transcends Judaism. These two aspects interpret practically every section of the Gospel.”
When it is remembered that the verb pisteuw occurs only eleven times in Matthew, fifteen times in Mark, and nine times in Luke, it can at once be seen how prominent the thought is in the fourth Gospel. This key is seen (GT has “struck”) as early as 1:7, 12. In chapter 1 also we have the record of the first members of the apostolic group (GT has “band”) who were led to faith, among whom was Nathaniel who at once confessed his belief in Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God (1:49). (Johnson deleted four sentences here from GT’s article) All this indicates what faith is according to John and what stress he lays on it in relation to Christ. Belief is the only and adequate response of any man or woman or child to this divine revelation. (Two more sentences from GT omitted here [see below], which describe belief in John as wholehearted surrender. This does not fit Johnson’s point so he replaced it with this sentence the following sentence) Theologically we tend to come up with content, but the author of the Gospel stresses belief.
Following are the two sentences Johnson deleted from GT’s paragraph above.
“It is based on testimony (1:7 ); it is elicited by experience (1:50 ); it rests on words spoken (10:38 ) or written (2:22 ); and it involves the wholehearted surrender of the moral being (eis). When these statements are successively understood, we come to the knowledge of what is meant by faith in Christ.”EXAMPLE #4
It may seem almost impossible to think of the ordinary verb have as at all characteristic of a work like the fourth Gospel. Yet it seems clear that its use is noteworthy and significant. In relation to things spiritual as distinct from mere temporal usage, it occurs at least thirty-five times, more especially in connection with such expressions as “having life,” or “having eternal life.” It implied not only possession, but conscious possession; possession with retention. The idea of having, knowing, and holding appear to be included. (At this point two sentences from GT have been omitted by Johnson.)
There are additional samples, but the key to this plagiarism is the sheer size of what was taken by Johnson inserted into his own document with no credit or even a mention of W. H. Griffith Thomas.
Mr. Johnson refuses to confess, repent and seek God’s forgiveness. Instead he is combative and he scoffs at the irrefutable evidence presented. He argues with an elitist, martyr complex, self-glorifying attitude.
Research has confirmed there are no less than four sources Mr. Johnson plagiarized. Two articles from Bib Sac (Hawthorne & Griffith-Thomas), Cerda’s from Bible.org, and a fourth that was discovered over the weekend. That may not be the final count, but after 30+ pages of stolen material IMO it hardly matters any more.
If I were to continue posting more of the plagiarism examples that have been uncovered this series would last through the rest of the month. I am, however, looking at wrapping it up with just one more to bring closure.
It is the hope and prayer of the men who have had to deal with this mass plagiarism that Mr. Johnson will admit what he did and repent of it. Thus far public and private attempts to encourage this have been met with hostility from Johnson.
By his own hand, Destroying Free Grace Theology, the part that is his own work, is utterly discredited. More examples of Johnson’s plagiarism, and there are many, can’t discredit his series any further.
*First edition of Bibliotheca Sacra, 1934.
**This is the heading and editor’s note from the original article at Bib Sac.
W. H. Griffith Thomas, Noted Anglican scholar, One of the founders of Dallas Theological Seminary, Now deceased. [Editor’s note: This article is a hitherto unpublished work of the noted Anglican scholar, Dr. W. H. Griffith Thomas, who was one of the founders of Dallas Theological Seminary. The article was submitted to us by his daughter, Mrs. Winifred G. T. Gillespie. A second installment on the Gospel of John will appear in the next issue of Bibliotheca Sacra.]