Metzger plagiarisms

Steven Avery

WIP - this is only plagiarisms, other problems like the word-parsing deceptions have their own studies. There is one on his mishandling of the heavenly witnesses.


Dan Wallace:
"I have seen other places in which he regurgitates the essence, and almost the wording, of a source, but without credit. My sense is that he is not intentionally plagiarizing; rather, he has internalized the point and remembered it without remembering the source."

This analysis/apologetic falls flat when virtually identical phrases are used, as pointed out by:

James Snapp{"tn":"R"}
...when one reads Metzger's sources and then reads Metzger, it is hard to resist forming a mental picture of Metzger reading his sources as he was writing.... for the sake of illustration, and to let any readers see that this sort of thing will eventually be detected, let's compare a few of Kirsopp Lake's manuscript-descriptons to some of Metzger's manuscript-descriptions:

33 --
Lake: . . . "has an excellent Neutral and Alexandrian text, close to that of Aleph B, but showing the influence of the Byzantine text."

Metzger: . . . "an excellent representative of the Alexandrian type of text, but it shows the influence of the Koine or Byzantine type" . . .

565 --
Lake: . . . "This is one of the most beautiful of known MSS. It was written in gold letters on purple vellum, during the ninth or tenth century. . . . It is now in the Public Library in Leningrad."

Metzger: "One of the most beautiful of all known MSS, 565 is now in the public library at Leningrad. It is a de luxe copy of the Gospels, written in gold letters on purple vellum during the ninth or tenth century."

579 --
Lake: . . . "It preserves an extremely good Neutral text. . . ."

Metzger: . . . "it preserves an extremely good Alexandrian text . . ."

1739 --
Lake: . . . "It is of extreme importance, because it contains a number of marginal readings taken from the commentaries of Origen."

Metzger: . . . "It is of extreme importance because it contains a number of marginal notes taken from the writings of Irenaeus, Clement, Origen, Eusebius, and Basil."

And these are just samples; there are dozens of such echoes in "Text of the New Testament" alone.

Now we switch to various individual drop-in’s, noticed while studying specific issues.

Frederic George Kenyon (Our Bible & the Ancient Manuscripts, Being a History of the Text and Its Translations, 1895, p. 134) -
"Unfortunately, the beauty of the original writing has been spoilt by a later corrector, who, thinking perhaps that the original ink was becoming faint, traced over every letter afresh, omitting only those letters and words which he believed to be incorrect.

Bruce M. Metzger (The Text of the New Testament, 1964, 1968, 1992; 3rd edition, p. 47) -
The writing is in small and delicate uncials, perfectly simple and unadorned. Unfortunately, the beauty of the original writing has been spoiled by a later corrector, who traced over every letter afresh, omitting only those letters and words which he believed to be incorrect.

[textualcriticism] Vaticanus - "the entire text has been overwritten by a 15th century scribe"
Steven Avery - Sept 13, 2013

One Metzger source (directly or indirectly, and not given in his bibliography) looks to be Frederic George Kenyon (1863-1952):
(none dare call it plagiarism)
Metzger borrowing (or plagiarizing) from Kenyon.
[TC-Alternate-list] Tares Among the Wheat & let's focus on Vaticanus difficulties
Steven Avery - April 17, 2013

Facebook discussions of the Kenyon usage{"tn":"R"}
[TC-Alternate-list] Council of Carthage, 484 AD, heavenly witnesses in the confession of faith by 100s of bishops
Steven Avery - Feb 6, 2011

Metzger, incidentally, is largely warmed-over Alan England Brooke. The earlier than 1920 edition of the ICC under Skinner with Brooke doing the Johannine Epistles is 1912.

Alan England Brooke
"The earliest certain instance of the gloss being quoted as part of the actual text of the Epistle is in the Liber Apologettcus... proof of the presence of the insertion in the Johannine text towards the end of the fifth century:

The earliest instance of the passage being quoted as a part of the actual text of the Epistle is in a fourth century Latin treatise entitled Liber Apologeticus (chap. 4) ..... In the fifth century the gloss was quoted by Latin Fathers in North Africa and Italy as part of the text of the Epistle"
And when Metzger in his Textual Commentary almost a century later typifies the Byzantine text according to its nature, he also begins with pointing out the evident secondary character of this textform. Herein he follows Hort completely. The latter wrote:

"The qualities which the authors of the Syrian text seem to have most desired to impress on it are lucidity and completeness. They were evidently anxious to remove all stumbling-blocks out of the way of the ordinary reader... ,"70

Metzger writes:
"It (The Byzantine Text) is characterized chiefly by lucidity and completeness. The framers of this text sought to smooth away any harshness of language, to combine two or more divergent readings into one expanded reading (called conflation), and to harmonize divergentparallel passages."71

The Ancient Text of the New Testament (1976)
Jakob Van Bruggen

Many more planned for here.

From the Facebook thread on top, with James Snapp:

*** Metzger plagiarisms sources ***
... that I have run into en passant, including a few from James Snapp, are the following writers:

John Scott Porter (1801-1880)

Henry Alford (1810-1871)

Brooke Foss Westcott (1825-1901)

Fenton John Anthony Hort (1828-1892)

Ezra Palmer Gould (1841-1900)

Frederic George Kenyon - (1863–1952)

Alan England Brooke - (1863-1939)

Hugh Pope (1869-1946)

James Hardy Ropes (1866–1933)

Kirsopp Lake (1872-1946)

Eric Gardner Turner (1911-1983)

Martin Litchfield West (b. 1937)


My sense is that this list may be partial, since nobody has ever done much checking. I have a note about one from Preserved Smith (1889-1941), however I want to check that a bit before putting it on the list (my note is incomplete, it may have been the Erasmus promise. If so, that would be significant because of the Metzger quasi-hidden retraction.)

In situations like the examples from James above, another problem is that you do not know if Metzger ever saw or personally studied the mss. being described.

Brice C. Jones had been blogging about some Metzger plagiarisms, and made a comment in the thread referenced in the OP, however I think he has taken the blog posts down.

Some scholars that may have been Metzger sources, however we have not hit direct examples, include Andrews Norton, Ezra Abbott, Joseph Pohle, Caspar Rene Gregory, and a number of scholars who wrote in German, and occasionally Latin. Now today there are computerized plagiarism checkers, at least for singular languages, it would be interesting to utilize such tools.

Similar wording like this does not mean that Metzger is dependent on each source for the full article he wrote. Simply that he took the wording, for convenience, without attribution.

Steven Avery

Facebook threads

NT Textual Criticism

Pure Bible (points to NTCC)

Metzger plagiarism

James and I have pioneered in documenting Metzger plagiarisms, from a number of sources (Kenyon, Porter, Moxie Covnoskee). The censored forum also has noted this issue (can anything good come out of NTTC?).

Honest question: would your school or university consider this plagiarism without any citation?

Although the post starts with a Martin Litchfield West quote, the most interesting is:

Brice C. Jones
"Metzger plagiarizes Eric Turner on many occasions, some verbatim. ... I found a couple sentences that were lengthy and drawn word for word from Turner's 'Greek Papyri' and GMAW."

Martin Litchfield West (b. 1973)


Note, on another thread they have Wilbur Pickering as deceased. Although I sent a note to the writer, and showed Pickering's current status on the board of the CSPMT, and he thanked me, it was never updated. A very strange situation.

Bart Ehrman

New Testament Textual Criticism

James Snapp
Response to Pereira

AND MANY MORE - The fullness of the project is planned in a week or two.


Steven Avery


This needs some tweaking.


The Gospel according to st John: the authorised version with intr. and notes by B.F. Westcott (1882)
Tim Wellings
Could Metzger be echoing what Dr. Brooke Westcott said in his commentary on John? ....
Euthymius Zigabenus ...the earliest Greek commentator who writes upon it, observes that it is not found in "the accurate copies" or is obelized in them, and that therefore it is not to be accounted genuine.'
--The Gospel According to St. John, Brooke Wescott, Page 141

[textualcriticism] The Pericope de Adultera and Greek Lectionary influence - October 10, 2008
Daniel Buck quoting Hort
"Have you realised that the Pericope [de adultera] was apparently absolutely unknown to every Greek Father whose writings have been preserved, till Euthymius Zigabenus in the 11th century?" -

This Hort quote goes back to :

Dr. Leslie McFall - 22 Dec 2002
Subject: [tc-list] Hort on the Pericope Adultery

The Metzger "borrowing" was discussed here

[textualcriticism] The Pericope Adulterae - Nov 9, 2005 - Steven Avery
... I think it is important to point out that Metzger was repeating an assertion of
Hort. And I will conjecture that Metzger was familiar with Hort's argumentation. ...

Steven Avery


Another study is the NETBible use of Metzger.

The Providential Ending of Mark’s Gospel
James Snapp - April, 2013

"... commentaries, like manuscripts, should be weighed, not just counted. And very many commentators appear to have been lazy regarding this subject. They have simply read Bruce Metzger’s one-sided claims about Mark 16:9-20 in his Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, and repeated them, adjusting them slightly so as to not commit outright plagiarism. ... Dr. Wallace is, I believe, guilty of this. (Just compare the notes in the NET Bible with Metzger’s Textual Commentary.) And that is how readers, and even preachers, end up being thoroughly misled, with the result that they become willing to acquiesce to the effective removal of 12 verses of the Word of God."