Tyndale House Publishers or Chicago Manual of Style?

Weeks after radio show host Janet Mefferd made her on-air plagiarism accusations against celebrity author and pastor Mark Driscoll, the latter released a joint statement with Tyndale House Publishers, which released the first book in question, at the beginning of this controversy.

Driscoll’s Call to Resurgence apparently relied heavily on the work of Dr. Peter Jones.

Tyndale House threw some elbows in defense, claiming Driscoll “did indeed adequately cite” Jones while others claimed plagiarism.

“While there are many nuanced definitions of plagiarism, most definitions agree that plagiarism is a writer’s deliberate use of someone’s words or ideas, and claiming them as their own with no intent to provide credit to the original source,” Tyndale House said in part of a statement released back in December.

The editors of the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition, most likely would take exception to the spirit of Tyndale House’s claims about plagiarism, and maybe even disagree with the letter of the statement.

For those unfamiliar with the Chicago Manual of Style, it is one of the central and long-standing guides for publishing books and magazines.

Section 4.82 of the online version of the manual says, “Bear in mind that although fair use will protect verbatim copying, unfair use will not be excused by paraphrasing. Traditional copyright doctrine treats extensive paraphrase as merely disguised copying.” (underlining added)

Perhaps even more detrimental to Tyndale House’s argument is this excerpt from the Chicago Manual of Style, Section 4.79: “For example, substantial quotation of the original is acceptable in the context of a critique but may well not be acceptable if one is simply using the first author’s words to reiterate the same argument or embellish one’s own prose.” (underlining added)

It’s arguable that Tyndale House’s statement was addressing a case in which the use of “the first author’s words,” in this case Peter Jones’ words, was done in such a way so that Driscoll could “reiterate the same argument.”

In fact, based on Warren Throckmorton’s examinations, Driscoll appears to have “reiterate[d] the same argument[s]” of several authors. Throckmorton has also found what might be called “extensive paraphrase” by the editors of Section 4.82 in the Chicago Manual of Style.

Meanwhile, in opposition to Tyndale House’s statement, at least three sources do not include anything like “deliberate” or “intent” in their definitions of plagiarism: Dictionary.com, Merriam-Webster.com, and the Indiana University-Bloomington Writing Tutorial Services webpage.

And as I pointed out yesterday, other universities distinguish between “intentional plagiarism” and “unintentional plagiarism.”

"Daniel Webster Stealing Henry Clay's Thunder." Source: Wikimedia Commons and Project Gutenberg

“Daniel Webster Stealing Henry Clay’s Thunder.” Source: Wikimedia Commons and Project Gutenberg