I recently posted two answers:

Both were criticized (rightfully so) for the quality of the sources I used:

  • In the first, I quoted several scriptures to make my point, but I gave credit to a booklet where I had previously seen that list.
  • In the second, I quoted sections of an article that presented an interesting explanation, and of course gave appropriate credit.

Is there a better way of crediting or presenting ideas from non-reliable sources, when the ideas themselves are potentially good?

  • Should I have simply not bothered to say where I found the list (implying that I had compiled it myself)?
  • Should I have rewritten the relevant sections of the article in my own words and not mentioned where I first heard the idea (implying that I had thought of it myself)?

1 Answer 1


It would be appropriate to acknowledge the original author as the one who inspired your own thinking, even if you are recasting the idea in your own words.

E.g. I could quote Shakespeare:

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

Or I could say:

If something is beautiful to me, it doesn't really matter to me what name is assigned to it, and then credit Shakespeare for the basic idea.

I hope I wasn't too hard on your post about the OT/NT! I agree the author presented an interested perspective on the general question, even if I disagreed with a portion of his scholarship. I think it would be fair to acknowledge that he inspired your thinking without needing to quote his words exactly.


That said, in my own area of study, the Synoptic Problem, I disagree with most people who publish on the matter. I quote their work all the time -- I don't think they're wrong about everything, so I often find myself critiquing one part and supporting another part of the same author's argument.

  • 2
    "too hard"? I lived through (and mostly enjoyed) the Usenet flame-wars of the 1980s. Your comment didn't threaten serious bodily harm or worse, and I seldom notice anything subtler than that. Aug 2 at 2:09

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