More IVP Reference Material Shows Up Without Citation in a Book by Mark Driscoll

Last week, I noted that a study guide on 1 & 2 Peter with Mark Driscoll’s name on it as the author improperly copied material from a publication by InterVarsity Press (see IVP’s statement to Christianity Today). Driscoll (or someone) took the material from a report by the Docent Group. The Docent researcher provided footnotes and references but these were not carried over into the study guide titled Trial: 8 Witnesses From 1 & 2 Peter. See here and here for more on that matter.
Now, I have found a similar pattern within Driscoll’s recent book, Who Do You Think You Are?: Finding Your True Identity in Christ. Prior to the publication of the Ephesians book, Docent Research Group produced a 290 page research report for Mars Hill Church which contains a “best hits” of materials relating to the New Testament book of Ephesians. Many sources are cited verbatim with footnotes and reference material provided, although as I point out, some of the sections are quite lengthy. I have found several sections in Driscoll’s book which borrow directly from the research report. Although I have not done a complete analysis, I can report that the same problems acknowledged by Mars Hill regarding the 1 & 2 Peter book show up in this book as well. Below are just two examples.
First, note in the left column a section from 1993 InterVarsity Press reference book, Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. The material in the red box shows up first in the Docent Research report and then is reproduced without citation in Driscoll’s book (on right) via a sentence in the body of the book and then in a footnote. The flow of ideas is similar and then beginning with “Egyptian colonists,” the material is essentially the same as in the Dictionary. The footnote does not cite the IVP reference book.

Below is another instance from earlier in the Dictionary entry on Ephesus. In this case, the verbatim uses are spread throughout the section of Driscoll’s book (see the image below). As in the 1 & 2 Peter book, a citation used by the original source author (Strabo) is used as a footnote in Driscoll’s book but without mentioning where he found Strabo (the Dictionary). 

Also of concern is the fact that much of the entries for Ephesians and the city of Ephesus from the Dictionary of Paul and His Letters is reproduced verbatim in the research report from the Docent Research Group. For instance, pages 249-250 of the Dictionary are copied verbatim directly into the Docent report.

Given that this was apparently intended to be a private report for Driscoll’s use, one might wonder why the wholesale copying is of concern. One reason is that Mars Hill Church sent this report to churches free of charge if the church signed up to be in a Mars Hill campaign promoting the Ephesians series and the book Who Do You Think You Are? The general guideline for fair use (using copyrighted materials without permission but with citation) is about 500 words. The portion of the entry on the city of Ephesus from IVP’s Dictionary is over 1700 words and that is not all of the Dictionary that was copied (substantial portions of the Dictionary entry on the book of Ephesians was also copied into the research report and then used in Driscoll’s book). While I can understand that Mars Hill would want to share the research, I question the distribution of that much of IVP’s reference book without permission (none was noted).

Although Mars Hill and Driscoll clearly sing the praises of Docent, there is no mention of Docent research in the acknowledgment section of the book.

In a related development, Jared Wilson at the Gospel Coalition issued a public call for Rev. Driscoll to account for issues raised by recent controversies, including the one surrounding allegations of plagiarism.

Stay tuned…

See also:
On The Allegations Of Plagiarism Against Mark Driscoll (12/2/13)
Zombies, Plagiarism And Mark Driscoll Helped Me Write This Blog Post (12/3/13)
Mark Driscoll And His Church On Plagiarism (12/4/13)
Janet Mefferd Removes Evidence Relating To Charges Of Plagiarism Against Mark Driscoll; Apologizes To Audience (12/4/13)
Ingrid Schlueter Resigns From Janet Mefferd Show Over Mark Driscoll Plagiarism Controversy (12/5/13)
Who’s Talking About The Mark Driscoll Plagiarism Controversy? (12/7/13)
IVP Says Bible Commentary Improperly Appeared In Book by Mark Driscoll; Mars Hill Church Responds, Blames Researcher Mistakes for Errors (12/9/13)
Mars Hill Church Alters Statement on Mark Driscoll Plagiarism Controversy (UPDATED) (12/10/13)
Mars Hill’s Sermon Series Battle Plan Reveals Background of Mark Driscoll’s Book on Peter (12/10/13)
Mars Hill’s Sermon Series Document Reveals Background of Mark Driscoll’s Book on Peter, Part Two (12/12/13)
Mars Hill Church, Mark Driscoll and the Case of the Disappearing Links (12/16/13)
Mark Driscoll’s Death By Love And Dan Allender’s The Wounded Heart: Is This Plagiarism? (12/17/13)
See all other posts on this topic here.

Mars Hill’s Sermon Series Document Reveals Background of Mark Driscoll’s Book on Peter, Part Two

On Tuesday, I discussed a document found on The Resurgence website which contained the research notes behind Mark Driscoll’s book on the apostle Peter. That document was missing for awhile but now has been returned to the website (seems to be gone from the website again, here it is). In that post, I examined paragraphs from the NBC, Driscoll’s book and Justin Holcomb’s research notes. In this post, I want to review three additional paragraphs in a similar manner. From both of these efforts, it appears to me that Holcomb’s work was adequately documented. One problem I found was that one of the endnotes cited the wrong source which is an easy mistake to make. However, it seems clear to me from the use of quotes and citations that Holcomb was not presenting the information as his own work.
Furthermore, it appears to me that Rev. Driscoll (or someone on his behalf) took Dr. Holcomb’s research notes and included them nearly verbatim into Trial: 8 Witnesses From 1 & 2 Peter. As a result, the material originally from the New Bible Commentaryas stated by Intervarsity Press — “improperly appeared without quotation or attribution” in Driscoll’s finished product. As I see it, the material may have ended up in the Driscoll book via mistake by Driscoll or his staff. However, if I am accurate in my analysis, another question arises: Was is proper for Driscoll to take material from a research assistant, remove the quotations and citations provided by that research assistant and then portray that work and research as his own work? While I may be wrong in my analysis, until Driscoll explains how the material from Holcomb’s research appeared in his book, one is left to speculate based on the available evidence.
First, examine paragraphs from Holcomb’s notes on page 149:

Where and when was the letter written?
“In 5:13 the writer sends greetings from ‘she who is in Babylon, chosen together with you‘. This seems like a reference to the local church in Babylon, but it is unlikely that Peter would have gone to the former capital of Nebuchadnezzar‘s empire. By Peter‘s time it was a sparsely inhabited ruin (fulfilling Is. 14:23). In Rev. 16:19 and 17:5 ‘Babylon‘ is used as a cryptic name for Rome, and Col. 4:10 and Phm. 24 (most likely written in Rome) show that Mark was there with Paul. In 2 Tim. 4:11, Mark is in Asia Minor, and Paul sends for him to come, most probably to Rome. The fact that neither Peter nor Paul mentions the other in the list of those sending greetings from Rome merely suggests that they were not together at the time of writing their letters. All this points to the theory that Peter was writing from Rome, which is supported by the evidence of Tertullian (Against Heresies, 36) and Eusebius (Ecclesiastical History, 2.25.8; 2.15.2 and 3.1.2–3).
In view of what was said above about Christians being persecuted, a date in the reign of Nero (AD 54–68) would seem best. Since Peter makes no reference to Paul‘s martyrdom, which is thought to have taken place during the out-burst of persecution in Rome in 64, the letter was probably written before then (see also 2:13). Links with other writings are thought to suggest a date after 60. So far as we can draw any conclusions from the evidence, the letter was probably written c. 63–64.

Note the quotes at the beginning of this section. Immediately below is a screen capture of the beginning (p. 149) and end of the section in question (p. 150) from Holcomb’s research notes. The quotes are enclosed in red.
At the end of the passage, along with the closing of the quote, the superscript “xxi” is provided and leads to this correct reference information:

David Wheaton, ―1 Peter in New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, Ed. D. A. Carson, 4th ed. (Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994).

In the book Trial: 8 Witnesses From 1 & 2 Peter, Driscoll did not use all of what Holcomb provided but did incorporate some of it nearly verbatim. Also, note that the research notes do not paraphrase the Bible commentary but include the passage verbatim within the quotations. At this link you can see the entire section uncut, thus demonstrating that the section was set off by quotes with correct citation to the chapter on Peter in the NBC.
Now compare the passage above with the original chapter in the NBC and as included in the book by Driscoll.

In this section, Driscoll (or someone) removed the quotes from the research notes, changed a few words and included the material in his book without the citation. He did, however, include the references to Against Heresies and Ecclesiastical History as footnotes. The appearance is that Rev. Driscoll consulted those sources directly.
I am not going to speculate much more about what happened. I simply don’t know what was behind the decision to include this material as it is. However, I don’t believe Holcomb as research assistant should be the focus of this matter as was implied in the statement made by Mars Hill Church on their website. The ball is in Driscoll’s court to address the questions about proper use of a research assistants’ work when there is no credit given.
For me, the issue of ghostwriting and use of research assistance is a prime topic we should be talking about. I am with John Piper on this. Putting one’s name on material one did not write is misleading and corrosive to trust among consumers of published materials. It seems to me that the Christian publishing industry, authors, ministers and other stakeholders should engage in reflection about this practice. One good thing that I hope emerges from this controversy is a new standard that discourages ghostwriting and provides guidelines for the proper and honest attribution of authorship.
Another issue of concern relates to the statement from Mars Hill Church about “citation errors” in the book on 1 & 2 Peter. Their altered statement (you can read the original and altered statements here) suggests that the problems with the book on Peter were due to a “team of people, including a research assistant.” However, now it appears from this information on their own website that the issue was not the Docent researcher but whoever took the researcher’s work and put Mark Driscoll’s name on it.