Ellen White's Plagiarism of Apocrypha and Fiction
Compiled by Dirk Anderson
This page examines some of the fictional and questionable sources that Mrs. White used in writing her books.
The term "apocrypha" is derived from the Greek word meaning "hidden" or "secret". These books are considered by scholars to be of doubtful authorship or authenticity. They were not accepted into the Jewish canon formed late in the 2nd century AD. The Reformers did not consider these books on a par with the rest of the Scriptures; thus the custom arose of making the Apocrypha a separate section in the Protestant Bible, or sometimes even of omitting them entirely. In 1827, Protestant Bible societies took a definite stand against it. The Catholic view, expressed as a doctrine of faith at the Council of Trent, is that the Apocrypha is canonical Scripture.
In their early career, Ellen and James White held the Apocrypha in high regard. In 1847, James quoted from it in his publication "A Word to the Little Flock". Several years afterward, Ellen made the following comments from a vision she had:
I saw that the Apocrypha was the hidden book, and that the wise of these last days should understand it."
Following are instances where Mrs. White plagiarized material from the Apocrypha:
(Manuscript 4, 1850)
|Ellen White - Early Writings
||Apocrypha - 2nd Esdras
Before entering the city, the saints were arranged in a perfect
square, with Jesus in the midst. He stood head and shoulders
above the saints and above the angels. ... As Jesus called for
the crowns, angels presented them to Him, and with His own right
hand, the lovely Jesus placed the crowns on the heads of the saints.
I, Ezra, saw on Mount Zion a great multitude, which I could not
number, and they all were praising the Lord with songs.
In their midst was a young man of great stature, taller than
any of the others, and on the head of each of them he placed a
crown, but he was more exalted than they. And I was held spellbound.
I saw that if the saints had food laid up by them or in the field
in the time of trouble, when sword, famine, and pestilence are
in the land, it would be taken from them by violent hands and
strangers would reap their fields. ...
Houses and lands will be of no use to the saints in the time of
trouble, for they will then have to flee before infuriated mobs,
and at that time their possessions cannot be disposed of to
advance the cause of present truth.
They will be like madmen, sparing no one, in plundering and
pillaging those who still fear the Lord. For they will pillage
and plunder their property, and drive them out of their houses.
Mount Zion was just before us, and on the mount was a glorious temple, and about it were seven other mountains, on which grew roses and lilies. And I saw the little ones climb, or, if they chose, use their little wings and fly, to the top of the mountains and pluck the never-fading flowers. (p. 18)
I will send you help, my servants Isaiah and Jeremiah. According to their counsel I have consecrated and prepared for you twelve trees loaded with various fruits, and the same number of springs flowing with milk and honey, and seven mighty mountains on which roses and lilies grow; by these I will fill your children with joy. 2:18,19
In the next passage Ellen White incorporates into her writings the Apocryphal idea that the Ark has been hidden away in some secret location and that at the end of time, when the Lord appears, the Ark and the Law will be shown to all:
|Ellen White - PP, GC
||Apocrypha - 2nd Maccabees
Among the righteous still in Jerusalem, to whom had been made plain the divine purpose, were some who determined to place beyond the reach of ruthless hands the sacred ark containing the tables of stone on which had been traced the precepts of the Decalogue. This they did. With mourning and sadness they secreted the ark in a cave, where it was to be hidden from the people of Israel and Judah because of their sins, and was to be no more restored to them. That sacred ark is yet hidden. It has never been disturbed since it was secreted.
(Prophets and Kings, p. 453)
Then there appears against the sky a hand holding two tables of stone folded together. Says the prophet, "The heavens shall declare His righteousness; for God is judge himself." [PS. 50:6.] That holy law, God's righteousness, that amid thunder and flame was proclaimed from Sinai as the guide of life, is now revealed to men as the rule of judgment. The hand opens the tables, and there are seen the precepts of the decalogue, traced as with a pen of fire. The words are so plain that all can read them.
(Great Controversy, 1888 edition, p. 639)
It was also contained in the same writing, that the prophet, being warned of God, commanded the tabernacle and the ark to go with him, as he went forth into the mountain [Nebo] Moses climbed up, and saw the heritage of God. And when Jeremy came thither, he found an hollow cave, wherein he laid the tabernacle, and the ark, and the altar of incense, and so stopped the door. And some of those that followed him came to mark the way, but they could not find it. Which when Jeremy perceived, he blamed them, saying, As for that place, it shall be unknown until the time that God gather his people again together, and receive them unto mercy. Then shall the Lord shew them these things, and the glory of the Lord shall appear, and the cloud also, as it was shewed unto Moses . . .
2 Macc. 4:8
Jewish scholars printed the Book of Jasher in Hebrew in Venice in 1625. It was published in English in New York in 1840. Nearly all scholars agree that the Book of Jasher was most likely written in Spain about the twelfth century A.D.1 Goodspeed and other scholars believe the book was composed by an author compiling many old Jewish traditions (called Midrash) dating back to around the time of Christ and fabricating a few of his own.
Some of the writings of Ellen White's kindred prophet, Joseph Smith, appear to have also been taken from the Book of Jasher. The Mormon prophet quoted from it as a source which had "not been disproved as a bad author." (Times and Seasons, 1 Sep 1842, 3:902).
The Book of Jasher contains many questionable stories, such as "snow" falling before the flood (3:38), and a wolf talking to Jacob (43:40-46). It also contradicts the Bible in a number of places. For example, it lists 15 plagues that fell on Egypt instead of the 10 Biblical plagues. It has other bizarre passages, including Rachel talking to Joseph from the grave (42:30-41), and a description of Zepho killing a being that was half man and half beast (61:15).
Despite these unbiblical notions, like fellow prophet Joseph Smith, Mrs. White apparently regarded the book to be of value because she used both the concepts and the words in it to describe her own "visions". Facts about Enoch and the Flood, which are not found in the Bible, were apparently copied by Ellen White from the Book of Jasher. Perhaps the most astonishing copying was the idea of amalgamation of man and beast, which is not found anywhere in Scripture, but is found in the Book of Jasher.
|Idea NOT found in the Bible
||Ellen White - Patriarchs and Prophets
||Apocryphal Book of Jasher
Fire consumed Abel's sacrifice
And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering." Fire flashed from heaven and consumed the sacrifice.
1:15. God turned and inclined to Abel and his offering, and a fire came down from the Lord from heaven and consumed it.
Idol-worship prior to flood
They glorified human genius, worshiped the works of their own hands, and taught their children to bow down to graven images. In the green fields and under the shadow of the goodly trees they set up the altars of their idols. (pp. 90-91)
2:4,5. And the sons of men went and they served other gods, and they forgot the Lord who had created them in the earth: and in those days the sons of men made images of brass and iron, wood and stone, and they bowed down and served them. And every man made his god and they bowed down to them
God talked to Enoch through Angels
3:3. And it was at the expiration of many years, whilst he was serving the Lord, and praying before him in his house, that an angel of the Lord called to him from Heaven, and he said, Here am I.
Through holy angels God revealed to Enoch His purpose to destroy the world by a flood, and He also opened more fully to him the plan of redemption. (p. 85)
Enoch withdrew to solitude and had a light upon his face
After remaining for a time among the people, laboring to benefit them by instruction and example, he [Enoch] would withdraw, to spend a season in solitude, hungering and thirsting for that divine knowledge which God alone can impart. Communing thus with God, Enoch came more and more to reflect the divine image. His face was radiant with a holy light, even the light that shineth in the face of Jesus. As he came forth from these divine communings, even the ungodly beheld with awe the impress of heaven upon his countenance. (p. 86)
3:20. And he [Enoch] did in this manner for many years, and he afterward concealed himself for six days, and appeared to his people one day in seven; and after that once in a month, and then once in a year, until all the kings, princes and sons of men sought for him, and desired again to see the face of Enoch, and to hear his word; but they could not, as all the sons of men were greatly afraid of Enoch, and they feared to approach him on account of the Godlike awe that was seated upon his countenance; therefore no man could look at him, fearing he might be punished and die.
Enoch became a preacher, instructed others
Enoch became a preacher of righteousness, making known to the people what God had revealed to him. Those who feared the Lord sought out this holy man, to share his instruction and his prayers. He labored publicly also, bearing God's messages to all who would hear the words of warning. He was a fearless reprover of sin.(p. 86)
3:26 And he [Enoch] taught them wisdom and knowledge, and gave them instruction, and he reproved them, and he placed before them statutes and judgments to do upon earth, and he made peace amongst them, and he taught them everlasting life, and dwelt with them some time teaching them all these things.
Enoch went to heaven in a Chariot of fire
The flaming chariots of God were sent for this holy man [Enoch], and he was borne to Heaven.
(Review and Herald, Apr. 19, 1870)
3:36. ...and it was upon the seventh day that Enoch ascended into heaven in a whirlwind, with horses and chariots of fire.
Men took away the wives, cattle of others
If one chose to take the wives, or cattle, or anything belonging to his neighbor, he did not regard justice or right, but if he could prevail over his neighbor by reason of strength, or by putting him to death, he did so, and exulted in his deeds of violence. They loved to destroy the lives of animals. (Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 64)
4:18. And their judges and rulers went to the daughters of men and took their wives by force from their husbands according to their choice, and the sons of men in those days took from the cattle of the earth, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air...
Man and animals cross-breeded (amalgamation)
But if there was one sin above another which called for the destruction of the race by the flood, it was the base crime of amalgamation of man and beast which defaced the image of God, and caused confusion everywhere. (Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 64)
4:18. ...and taught the mixture of animals of one species with the other...
Noah and Methusaleah were preachers; God could have changed His mind about the flood
Amid the prevailing corruption, Methuselah, Noah, and many others labored to keep alive the knowledge of the true God and to stay the tide of moral evil. (p. 94)
They were unwilling to renounce their sins. (p. 95)
Had the antediluvians believed the warning, and repented of their evil deeds,
the Lord would have turned aside His wrath, as He afterward did from Nineveh. (p. 97)
5:9. And Noah and Methuselah spoke all the words of the Lord to the sons of men,
day after day, constantly speaking to them.
5:10. But the sons of men would not hearken to them, nor incline their ears to
their words, and they were stiffnecked.
5:11. And the Lord granted them a period of one hundred and twenty years, saying,
If they will return, then will God repent of the evil, so as
not to destroy the earth.
Lightning and Thunder attended the flood
But upon the eighth day dark clouds overspread the heavens. There followed the
muttering of thunder and the flash of lightning. Soon large drops of rain began to fall. The world had
never witnessed anything like this, and the hearts of men were struck with fear. (p. 99)
6:11. And on that day, the Lord caused the whole earth to shake, and the sun
darkened, and the foundations of the world raged, and the
whole earth was moved violently, and the lightning flashed, and the thunder
roared, and all the fountains in the earth were broken up, such as
was not known to the inhabitants before; and God did this mighty act, in order
to terrify the sons of men, that there might be no more evil
Wicked pleaded for entrance into Ark
Others were frantic with fear, stretching their hands toward the ark and
pleading for admittance. But their entreaties were in vain. Conscience was
at last aroused to know that there is a God who ruleth in the heavens. They
called upon Him earnestly, but His ear was not open to their cry.(p. 100)
6:18. And they called to Noah saying open for us that we may come to thee in the
ark-and wherefore shall we die?
6:23. [Noah replied:] "But now you come and tell me this on account of the troubles of your souls,
now also the Lord will not listen to you, neither will he give
ear to you on this day, so that you will not now succeed in your wishes."
Animals in Ark were terrified
The massive ark trembled in every fiber as it was beaten by the
merciless winds and flung from billow to billow. The cries of the beasts within
expressed their fear and pain. But amid the warring elements it continued to ride safely. (p. 100)
28. And the ark floated upon the face of the waters, and it was tossed upon the
waters so that all the living creatures within were turned
about like pottage in a cauldron.
29. And great anxiety seized all the living creatures that were in the ark, and
the ark was like to be broken.
30. And the living creatures that were in the ark were terrified, and the lions
roared, and the oxen lowed, and the wolves howled, and every
living creature in the ark spoke and lamented in its own language, so that
their voices reached to a great distance...
Babel destroyed by lightening
Lightning from heaven, as a token of God's wrath, broke off the top of their tower, casting it to the ground. (Spirit of Prophecy, pp. 92-93)
9:38 And as to the tower which the sons of men built...a fire also descended from heaven and burned another third...
Terah's family served idols
Abraham had grown up in the midst of superstition and heathenism. Even his father's household, by whom the knowledge of God had been preserved, were yielding to the seductive influences surrounding them, and they "served other gods" than Jehovah. ... for with their idolatry they united the worship of the true God.
9:7. ...and Terah with all his household were then the first of those that served gods of wood and stone.
Paradise Lost was first published by John Milton in 1667. This poetic novel describes the fall of Satan, Adam and Eve, and the Garden of Eden.
|Ellen White - Patriarchs and Prophets
||John Milton - Paradise Lost
The serpent was then one of the wisest and most
beautiful creatures on the earth. It had wings, and
while flying through the air presented an appearance of
dazzling brightness, having the color and brilliancy of
burnished gold. Resting in the rich-laden branches of
the forbidden tree and regaling itself with the
delicious fruit, it was an object to arrest the
attention and delight the eye of the beholder.
With burnisht Neck of verdant Gold, erect
Amidst his circling Spires, that on the grass
Floted redundant: pleasing was his shape,
And lovely, never since of Serpent kind.
An expression of sadness came over the face of Adam.
He appeared astonished and alarmed. (p. 56)
On th' other side, ADAM, soon as he heard
The fatal Trespass don by EVE, amaz'd,
Astonied stood and Blank, while horror chill
Ran through his veins, and all his joynts relax'd;
There were lovely vines, growing upright, yet presenting a most graceful appearance, with their branches drooping under their load of tempting fruit of the richest and most varied hues. ... There were fragrant flowers of every hue in rich profusion. In the midst of the garden stood the tree of life, surpassing in glory all other trees. Its fruit appeared like apples of gold and silver...
...amid them stood the Tree of Life, High eminent, blooming Ambrosial Fruit Of vegetable Gold...
Flours of all hue...the mantling vine Layes forth her purple Grape, and gently creeps Luxuriant...
(Book 4, 218-220; 256; 259-260)
In Paradise Lost, Milton put forth the idea that heavenly angels wear crowns, and at times they cast them down: "With solemn adoration down they cast Thir Crowns" (Book 3, verse 350).
Ellen White also taught that angels wore crowns that they threw down on occasion: "The angels cast their crowns from their heads" (Spiritual Gifts, vol. 1, p. 21).
CLICK HERE for further comparisions of Ellen White's plagiarism of John Milton.
JOHN CUMMING 1865
"Heaven is the
great continent of glory;
this earth was once a part of it;
but sin, with its disruptive force, broke off
this earth from that continent
(Behold, The Bridegroom Cometh: The Last Warning Cry, With Reasons For The Hope That Is In Me (1865))
ELLEN G. WHITE 1885
"Through sin our world was divorced from
the continent of heaven. . ."
(The Review and Herald, October 27, 1885)
ELLEN G. WHITE 1886
" . . . . This
world is, as it were, but one link in a chain composed of a
thousand links; but because of sin it was struck off from the continent
and Satan claimed it as his."
(The Review and Herald,
March 9, 1886)
ELLEN G. WHITE 1887
". . . . Though earth was struck off
continent of Heaven
and alienated from its communion, Jesus has connected it again with the sphere
(The Signs of the Times, November 24, 1887)
ELLEN G. WHITE 1888
because of transgression had been struck off
from the continent
(Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, February 28, 1888)
ELLEN G. WHITE 1890
". . . . The transgression of man had separated
earth from heaven, and finite man
from the infinite God. As an island is separated from a continent,
so earth was cut off from
heaven, and a wide channel intervened
between man and God. . ."
(The Review and Herald, November 11, 1890)
". . . . After the transgression of Adam, God no
longer communicated direcctly with man; earth
was separated, as it were, from the
continent of heaven;
. . . ."
(The Review and Herald, June 10, 1890)
ELLEN G. WHITE
". . . . Jesus became the world's Redeemer,
rendering perfect obedience to every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of
God. He redeemed Adam's disgraceful fall, and threw the kingdoms of this world
back into favor with God, uniting the
earth, that had been divorced by sin from God, to the continent of heaven."
(The Signs of the Times, March 26, 1894)
ELLEN G. WHITE 1900
". . . .The world that
was separated by sin from the
continent of heaven,
he drew back into favor with God."
(The Youth's Instructor, February 22, 1900)
1. See Modern Apocrypha, Famous "Biblical" Hoaxes, by Edgar J. Goodspeed, (The Beacon Press, Boston, 1956, Library of Congress catalog card # 56-10075).