Melania Trump, Michelle Obama, and the Synoptic Problem

Melania Trump, Michelle Obama, and the Synoptic Problem July 19, 2016

Everyone is talking at the moment about the plagiarism of Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech by Melania Trump. Here is the evidence, in case you haven’t seen it:

One of the ironies, of course, is that many of the people who applauded the words coming out of Melania Trump’s mouth would have booed the same words coming out of Michelle Obama’s.

But as a religion professor, for me the biggest irony is that a great many Republicans claim that the Bible is important to them. And you can’t study the Bible in any serious fashion without learning about the Synoptic Problem, the issue of what the relationship is between the extensively-overlapping Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. And so if you have studied the Bible even in just one course at university, you should know that plagiarism is easy to spot, and you will be caught by the professor who teaches New Testament, even if other professors may not have spotted your academic dishonesty.

Of course, we will soon see Michelle Obama and James Corden offering one or more cover versions of songs soon:

And while I mention that case in jest, the truth is that plagiarism blurs into hommage and poorly-cited verbal quotation and paraphrase, in ways that do not excuse Melania Trump’s speechwriters, but are important to understanding the Gospels, as well as in deciding just how harshly to penalize the specific issues we find in a given student assignment.

I did not have textual relations with that woman

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