Köstenberger on Plagiarism

In his book, Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholary Virtue (Good News Publishers, 2011.), Andreas Köstenberger addresses the topic of plagiarism. He tackles the subject under the sub-title “Diligence and Vices” encouraging the reader to be diligent in their work breaking sinful vices including laziness.

In part, he writes that is is a form of theft.

“If you plagiarize, you are engaging in a form of theft, stealing the intellectual property of others.

What is more, once a scholar’s reputation has been marred by plagiarism, it is virtually impossible to regain credibility. Even if those whom you harmed by plagiarism forgive you and you avoid losing your job or being expelled from an academic program or institution, you can never turn back the clock, and your reputation will likely suffer permanent damage. What is more, you bring dishonor to the God whom you serve and with whom you have chosen to publicly identify. Of all students, it is those engaged in biblical and theological studies who should hold to impeccable standards when it comes to respecting and referencing the work of others” (Kindle Locations 1548-1554).

Köstenberger then calls plagiarism a sin noting its appeal.

“Like other forms of sin, plagiarism may seem appealing when tempted, but it is never worth it. Why would anyone working on a theological degree plagiarize? As mentioned, as a form of intellectual theft, plagiarism is completely at odds with the study of God and of his ways. Ultimately, plagiarism is a selfish act that says, “I want a degree, or recognition, without putting in the work, and I don’t care if I hurt or deceive others in the process, as long as I get what I want.” This hardly is good character, and even if repented of, still casts doubt on the character of a person who committed this kind of act, especially if repeatedly and egregiously” (Kindle Locations 1549-1558).

While plagiarism can happen accidentally at times, Köstenberger gives a good insight on the topic whatever your vocation is as a Christian whether scholar, pastor, student, church leader, business person, etc.

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tagged as , in books,Christianity,Church Issues,Gospel,morality,theology

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 BillConover November 26, 2013 at 12:01 pm

This is a good rebuke and exhortation to everyone. Thanks for positing it.

2 Bennett Willis December 10, 2013 at 12:15 pm

My son-in-law teaches at an “evangelical, non-denominational” college.  When he does research, he says that he writes down his opinions before he reads other opinions.  Often he will find some of his opinion expressed in virtually the same words by another writer.  When he finds this, he rewrites his opinion in different words to avoid any appearance of plagerism.
Even if you are trying to do right, it is not always easy.  If you get sloppy, things do not turn out well.  We use “Turn it in” where I teach.  This software checks the Internet and all papers that have ever been submitted through “Turn it in.”  Significant sections of text that are copied from others frequently turn up. 
You would think that a publisher would run all books through similar software.


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