A couple of weeks ago, I published a post documenting the plagiarism of Robert Clifton Robinson. As I show there, Robinson had lifted an entire paragraph, nearly verbatim, from an article written by Don Stewart. Stewart was quoting an apologetic text by Robert Boyd entitled Boyd’s Bible Handbook, but it was clear that Robinson wasn’t stealing from Boyd directly but rather through Stewart. As of the writing of this post, Robinson has not made any apparent attempt to rectify this problem. Given his penchant for hurling unfounded accusations against his interlocutors, it isn’t difficult to conclude on the basis of his theft of other people’s work and passing it off as his own that Robinson is little more than a hypocrite.
Like a crowd drawn to a train wreck, I couldn’t help but visit Robinson’s blog recently to see what new incoherent, factually dubious ramblings he had published. On February 9th, he posted (yet another) piece attacking Assyriologist Joshua Bowen entitled “Is Yahweh A Terrorist? Dr. Joshua Bowen Says, ‘Yes.’” There is nothing of substance to what Robinson writes about Bowen and I have no intention of offering anything resembling a rebuttal to it. Instead, I want to focus on an aspect of Robinson’s piece that was unsurprising.
One of the first things I do when reading a blog post is to find the section on sources, whether it is a section for endnotes or a works cited. When looking at the endnotes for this piece by Robinson, here is what I found:
This endnote, labelled A, corresponds to this section here:
While looking at the endnote, I noticed that Robinson never bothers to cite specific page numbers to the works mentioned. Where in these secondary works did he find support for the claim that they “confirm” that the Amalekites attacked the Israelites? For example, one of the sources is by the late Volkmar Fritz in the English translation of his Die Entstehung Israel sim 12. und 11. Jahrhundert v. Chr., or The Emergence of Israel in the Twelfth and Eleventh Centuries BCE (as it appears in English). Fritz’s comments on Amalek constitute barely a page and a half and in them he suggests that the “negative attitudes toward the Amalekites” we find in the Torah (e.g., Exodus 17:16) “were first established on the basis of historical experience in the course of the monarchy.” That is, those stories found in the Torah about the attacks on wandering Israel by the Amalekites were informed not by historical events following the Exodus but by events contemporary to the reign of Saul. The conflict between Saul and the Amalekites is justified by a story likely concocted and placed in the pre-monarchic narratives in the Torah.
At least on my reading of Fritz’s words, this does not confirm at all what Robinson claims that it does. The fact that he merely lists Fritz’s work but does not specify which pages he drew upon is a smoking gun alerting us to the likelihood that Robinson has never read Fritz’s work. Yesterday, I left this comment on Robinson’s post noting this.
Today, undeterred, Robinson left his own in response.
And so, I began to dig.
One of the works Robinson lists is The Oxford Bible Commentary. The form of the citation struck me as odd, especially “oprac. J. Barton, J. Muddiman.” I’ve never encountered the abbreviation “oprac” and have no idea to what it could be referring. (Based on context, my guess it has something to do with editing since both Barton and Muddiman were editors of the commentary. But I’m not sure if it is derived from an English word or some other language. Any help from either of my readers is appreciated.) [UPDATE (2.10.23) – Lex Lata commented on this post and informed me that “oprac” is Polish for “edited by.” As they note, this is just further confirmation of Robinsons’s plagiarism.] Regardless, I took that citation and plugged it into Google. It is then I discovered a Wikipedia page on the Battle of Rephidim mentioned in Exodus 17. I did a search on the page for “Fritz” and found in the page’s bibliography this:
If you compare this bibliography to the endnotes from Robinson’s piece, you can tell that they are identical. It is clear what he has done: taken material from Wikipedia and passed it off as his own. Specifically, he has taken the bibliography from that entry, posted it to his own article, and thereby given off the impression that he has consulted these specific works to find support for his claims. This is plagiarism, clear as day.
As further evidence that Robinson got his sources from Wikipedia, toward the beginning of the piece we find this painting.
Where else do we find this painting? Why, the aforementioned Wikipedia article, of course! This is further evidence of Robinson’s dependence upon Wikipedia and his plagiarism of it.
The irony is palpable. Robinson sets himself up as a reliable, go-to source for information about the Bible. He acts as if he’s done his homework, put in the hours, and attained a level of knowledge his interlocutors simply do not possess. And yet he demonstrates clearly that he’s not only never read the sources he cites to prove his claim, he only got them by plagiarizing from Wikipedia!
If I’m forced to choose between being an atheist like Joshua Bowen and a Christian like Robert Clifton Robinson, I will choose Bowen every time. Why? Because in the books I’ve read by Bowen he’s shown how he’s aware of the fact that he’s not an expert on every area in which he comments, and he carefully and meticulously cites the sources from which he draws. Moreover, he does his best to present the findings of scholars – even those with whom he disagrees – as charitably as possible. He’s a model scholar and a fine human being. But Robinson, despite having the Holy Spirit, cannot be bothered to read the material he cites and steals unashamedly from other’s work.
And so, I will end this post on Robinson’s plagiarism as I did the previous one. Robert Clifton Robinson is, I dare say, a hypocrite.
 See “Apologetic Plagiarism: Robert Clifton Robinson on Joshua’s Long Day” (1.31.23), amateurexegete.com.
 Robert Clifton Robinson, “Is Yahweh A Terrorist? Dr. Joshua Bowen Says, ‘Yes’” (2.9.23), robertcliftonrobinson.com.
 Volkmar Fritz, The Emergence of Israel in the Twelfth and Eleventh Centuries BCE, translated by James W. Barker (Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2011).
 Fritz, The Emergence of Israel in the Twelfth and Eleventh Centuries BCE, 208.
 See “Battle of Refidim,” en.wikipedia.org.
6 thoughts on “More Apologetic Plagiarism: Robert Clifton Robinson and the Amalekites”
Oh, Ben, you poor, intellectually disabled* atheist. “Oprac.” means edited or compiled by, in Polish.
This is obviously yet another foreign language RCR has mastered!
But seriously. Perhaps a Wikipedia contributor was Polish, or drew from a Polish source, or something along those lines. Whatever the case, RCR’s unthinking inclusion of “oprac.”–a term no-0ne writing a blog post for English readers would intentionally use–confirms what you’ve demonstrated is already obvious. He simply copy-pasted these citations with no attribution or link to Wikipedia, no page numbers, no evidence he actually read the sources cited, etc. He apparently didn’t even read the citations themselves with enough care to detect and adjust the anomaly of “oprac.”
In a ham-handed, lazy, and unprofessional attempt to create a pretense of credibility, RCR manages to impeach himself.
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Polish! Thank you for that! Robinson is truly a polymath. His knowledge and skill are wasted on biblical studies.
I’ll update the post to reflect this. Thank you for letting me know!!!
Hey, Ben. I love the new look of your blog.
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Mind if I play?
Let’s take RCR’s 1/31/2023 post, “Not All New Testament Scholars Are Telling the Truth” (https://robertcliftonrobinson.com/2023/01/31/not-all-new-testament-scholars-are-telling-the-truth/). And actually, I agree with the title, but assuredly from a different perspective than RCR’s.
His post includes the following footnote: “[j] Tacitus’ characterization of ‘Christian abominations’ may have been based on the rumors in Rome that during the Eucharist rituals Christians ate the body and drank the blood of their God, interpreting the symbolic ritual as cannibalism by Christians. References: Ancient Rome by William E. Dunstan 2010 ISBN 0-7425-6833-4 page 293 and An introduction to the New Testament and the origins of Christianity by Delbert Royce Burkett 2002 ISBN 0-521-00720-8 page 485.”
Not too surprisingly, RCR has recycled this item on his blog repeatedly since about 2014, as best I can determine. Copy-pasting from oneself (without a notice to readers) is bad form and kinda lazy, but a relatively venial infraction.
Problem is, an archived version of Wikipedia’s entry on “Tacitus on Christ” (https://archive.vn/IkR6a) tells readers that Tactus’ “characterization of ‘Christian abominations’ may have been based on the rumors in Rome that during the Eucharist rituals Christians ate the body and drank the blood of their God, interpreting the ritual as cannibalism by Christians.” And the citations that Wikipedia gives for this statement, per the old page’s footnotes? “Ancient Rome by William E. Dunstan 2010 ISBN 0-7425-6833-4 page 293” and “An introduction to the New Testament and the origins of Christianity by Delbert Royce Burkett 2002 ISBN 0-521-00720-8 page 485”. It’s hard to miss the similarities in wording, punctuation, etc. It’s also hard to believe RCR actually read the books he’s citing here.
(Wikipedia’s current “Tacitus on Jesus” page (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus_on_Jesus) has nearly identical material and citations, but a couple of minor differences compel me to infer that RCR likely plagiarized from what is now the archived “Tacitus on Christ” page quoted above.)
So it seems RCR lifted both the text and citations verbatim from Wikipedia without attribution nearly ten years ago, and has been recycling them ever since. That this example of sloppy, unethical writing happens to appear in a post about honesty in scholarship is, of course, unintentionally hilarious.
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Oh man, that is amazing!!! He’s gotten away with it for years because (I assume) no one has cared enough to dig. Looks like that is changing.