Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sungenis Comes Full Circle

Despite an explicit directive from his ordinary, Bishop Kevin Rhoades, to cease writing about Jews and Jewish issues (see here) and despite his own numerous promises to stop doing so (his promises are documented here), Sungenis has repeatedly returned to the topic, each time with the same blatant disregard for truth, Catholic morals, and scholarly standards. As a direct result of Sungenis’ embarrassing extremism, he has now had presentations halted by Archbishop Raymond Burke (St. Louis) and the Diocese of San Bernardino (in concert with the Knights of Columbus).

His latest salvo, however, is of particular interest because of what agitated Bob this time - a document that was promulgated by the USCCB precisely to correct the problematic positions taken by the Reflections on Covenant and Mission document in regard to the dual covenant theory and the evangelization of Jews. Incredibly, Sungenis chose to respond by re-posting (link) the scandalous 2002 “Conversion of the Jews Not Necessary?” essay that originally got him into such hot water and caused an exodus of supporters — albeit with a majority of the most egregious Nazi and white supremacist material that he plagiarized edited out (see the original version here. A side by side comparison of the remaining, plagiarized material is presented below). If anybody truly needed further evidence that Sungenis has not mended his ways, this is surely it. He is still grinding the same, anti-Jewish axe, desperately trying to prove that he was “right” all along about “the Jews.”

In this forum we have amply demonstrated that Bob Sungenis is an irresponsible and dishonest commentator on Jews and Judaism. Any good work he has done concerning the dual covenant error or any other doctrinal issue concerning Jews has been fatally compromised by his manifest bigotry and has been done better and more responsibly by others (our own contribution to the doctrinal issue may be found here.) This piece will focus on Bob’s most recent shoddy scholarship, double standards, plagiarism, and outright bigotry in regard to Jews and Judaism.

Bob begins his revised essay with a standard conspiratorial boilerplate:

Hence, as we are reading what the RCM states in this document, let no one be fooled that the Vatican fully endorses [sic] what the RCM is teaching, from the Pope to the Cardinals he has put in place to implement these changes. It would be utterly naive to think that Cardinal Keeler has not already received his marching orders directly from the Vatican. The Vatican has been at work on these changes for the last 50 or so years, and they are beginning to move forward with a vengeance. Documents such as the RCM are merely the trial balloons to gauge how the public is going to react to such monumental change in Catholic teaching ("Conversion", 7).

Incredibly, in the face of a very welcome and rather uncharacteristic clarification by the USCCB, Bob chooses to “double down” and insist that it really is part of an ongoing Jewish conspiracy, which involves everybody in the hierarchy, from the Pope on down

Coupled with the standard serving of conspiracy mongering comes the now equally standard plagiarism. Sungenis has rejected the charge in the past, based on his personal re-definition of “plagiarize”. But by the standard definition used by everyone else (including his alma mater) he has habitually plagiarized over the years (see the main examples cited in these entries.) Remarkably, Sungenis retained a significant amount of plagiarized material even in his new edited version of the “Conversion” article.

The reader is referred to our piece Sungenis’ Definition Difficulties for several overlapping definitions of plagiarism. Here is the definition from Bob’s undergraduate alma mater, George Washington University:

Plagiarism - intentionally representing the words, ideas, or sequence of ideas of another as one's own in any academic exercise; failure to attribute any of the following: quotations, paraphrases, or borrowed information. (http://www.gwu.edu/~ntegrity/code.html)

Let’s look at some examples from the present article. On page 7 of "Conversion" Bob has a long section of some 243 words concerning the Popes and Judaism:

For example, Pope Leo XIII in the 1900 encyclical Tametsi, and Pope Pius XI in the 1925 encyclical Quas Primas and the 1931 encyclical Quadragesimo Anno are quite clear concerning these dangers. Prior to that, Pope Benedict the XIV in the 1751 encyclical A Quo Primum, cites a whole line of popes previous to him who forbade Catholics from associating with the Jewish religion. He cited Alexander II [sic] as stating: “Our ways of life and those of the Jews are utterly different, and Jews will easily pervert the souls of simple fold to their superstition and unbelief” (Decretal, Ad Haec). Innocent II, in the Decretal Etsi Judaeos, states: “On the contrary, the Jews, as servants rejected by that Saviour whose death they wickedly contrived, should recognize themselves, in fact and in deed, the servant of those whom the death of Christ has set free. Benedict XIV continues: “If any should ask what is forbidden by the Apostolic See to Jews dwelling in the same towns as Christians...he has only to read the Constitutions of the Roman Pontiffs, Our Predecessors, Nicholas IV, Paul IV, Saint Pius V, Gregory XIII, and Clement VIII, which are readily available, as they are to be found in the Bullarium Romanum.”6 The Dictionnaire Apologetique de la Foi Catholique, in the article “Juifs et Chretiens” (cols 1691-1694) gives a long list of Papal Decrees condemning the Talmud and the Talmudic formation, since the Talmud became known to Catholics about 1238-1240.

The only footnote (6) is on the quote from Benedict XIV; the rest Sungenis presents as if it was his own work. But in fact, the entire section is lifted from Fr. Denis Fahey’s The Kingship of Christ and the Conversion of the Jewish Nation, pages 80-81 and 89 (source). It should be noted too that Bob used this material in a talk he gave on the same topic, which is currently for sale on the BTF web site (his tape set RCM.001), directly contradicting even Bob’s gratuitous and self-serving claim that it’s only plagiarism if you are distributing someone else’s material “for personal gain” (see here).

I brought this example of plagiarism to Bob’s attention in my article “Sources, Schoeman, and Sungenis” (see point #8), an article which he purported to read, since he responded to it. All he had to do was add footnotes to make clear that the entire section came from Fahey, but he left the plagiarism intact in his most current version of “Conversion.”

In the original version of “Conversion”, Sungenis had plagiarized a section of more than an incredible 1500 (yes, that’s one thousand five hundred) words from white supremacist author Gordon “Jack” Mohr (a self-admitted member of the Kingdom Identity Movement. On the Identity Movement, see here. See the full extent of Bob's literary theft documented here.) In the present version, Sungenis has removed most, but not all, of this material. Here are Bob’s words from page 60 of the latest version of "Conversion" on the left, versus Mohr's material from The Talmudic Effect on Judeo-Christianity! Part 8 of 11 on the right:

For example, Resh Lakish (d. 278) said, “A Gentile observing the Sabbath deserves death.” (Sanhedrin 58b). This refers to a Gentile who accepted the seven laws of the Noachide, since the Jews thought of the Sabbath as a sign between God and Israel alone. Rabbina, who lived about 150 years after the Church had changed the day of rest to Sunday, could not quite understand the principle underlying Resh Lakish's law, and, commenting upon it, added: "not even on Mondays [is the Gentile allowed to rest]."

Resh Lakish (d. 278) said, "A Gentile observing the Sabbath deserves death." (Sanh. 58b). This refers to a Gentile who accepted the seven laws of the Noachidae, in as much as "the Sabbath is a sign between God and Israel alone" and it was probably directed against the Christian Jews, who disregarded the Mosaic laws and yet at that time kept up the observance of the Jewish Sabbath. Rabbina, who lived about 150 years after the Christians had changed the day of rest to Sunday, could not quite understand the principle underlying Resh Lakish's law, and, commenting upon it, added: ". . . not even on Mondays [is the Gentile allowed to rest]."

Here’s another example of material plagiarized from the same section of Mohr's work, from page 65 of "Conversion":

Talmudic laws discriminate against the non-Jew, ranking them as human animals. The Jewish Encyclopedia specifies that the command of Sanhedrin 59a threatens death to any Jew who reveals the Talmudic Law to a goy (Gentile). ). This order follows a discussion on cheating and getting the best of a Gentile in business dealings.
All Talmudic laws discriminate against the non-Jew, ranking them as human animals. This thinking, of course, can become dangerous to the Jew. The Jewish Encyclopedia mentions SANHEDRIN 59a which threatens death to any Jew who reveals the Talmudic Law to a goy. This order follows a discussion on cheating and getting the best of a Gentile in business dealings.

There is also this shorter section from page 65 of Bob’s latest essay and Part 11 of 11 of Mohr's work from which he took it:

The Talmud declares that even the best of the goyim should be destroyed
The Talmud says: "Even the best of the goyim should be destroyed."

Here's another example from page 65, plagiarized from The Jewish Religion: Its Influence Today by Nazi sympathizer and Hitler admirer, Elizabeth Dilling:

The Talmud is divided into six main divisions called "Sedarim" (orders).The Talmud is an assortment of every subject imaginable. Unfortunately, it is filled with obscenities and blasphemies of the highest order. It seeks to reverse many biblical moral teachings on theft, murder, sodomy, perjury, treatment of children and parents. It has an unrelenting and virtually insane hatred of Christ, Christians and every aspect of Christianity.

The Talmud is divided into six main divisions called "Sedarim" (orders), but each division and each volume is a hodge-podge of every subject imaginable. The main and overall characteristics of the Talmud are: pomp, silliness, obscenity and more obscenity, a setting up of laws seemingly for the purpose of inventing circumventions, and evasions; delight in sadistic cruelty; reversal of all Biblical moral teachings on theft, murder, sodomy, perjury, treatment of children and parents; insane hatred of Christ, Christians and every phase of Christianity.

And from yet another source, lifted without attribution from The Truth About the Talmud by notorious Holocaust revisionist Michael Hoffman and Alan Critchley, Bob gives us this on page 65:

According to Jewish businessman Samuel Roth in the book, “Jews Must Live, “one of the first things he was taught as an European Jew was to spit when he passed a Christian church, or when the name of Jesus Christ was even mentioned. The second lesson was that it was accepted for a Jew to cheat the Gentile goyim as long as you weren’t caught at it because that would bring shame upon Judaism.
According to the book, "Jews Must Live". authored by the Jewish businessman Samuel Roth, one of the first things he was taught as an European Jew was to spit when he passed a Christian church, or when the name of Jesus Christ was even mentioned. The second lesson was that it was accepted for a Jew to cheat the detested goyim as long as you weren't caught at it because that would bring shame upon Judaism.

It is interesting to note that their source for this allegation, Samuel Roth, was himself a Jew and a convicted pornographer (see here). And so one is left wondering why anti-Semites like Hoffman, Critchley, and Sungenis take his word for anything, given their view that Jews are so morally degenerate and utterly untrustworthy. Apparently any source that can be used to bash Jews is a trustworthy source – even another Jew.

Obviously, serial plagiarism is a serious problem for Sungenis (see many other examples documented here), but there are numerous additional examples of shoddy scholarship in the edited version of “Conversion”.

Bob consistently treats the Talmud in a decidedly tendentious way. Although there is material that is genuinely offensive in the Talmud, Bob seems incapable of seeing any good there whatsoever; this, I would contend, is the very definition of prejudice, namely, to pre-judge someone or something. For example on page 63 Bob states that, "Unlike the Old Testament, which commanded the Jews to show mercy to Gentiles dwelling in their midst, there is no such message in the Talmud." This is a remarkable claim since just one page later he acknowledges the Talmudic statement that, “One must provide for the needs of the gentile poor with the Jewish poor. One must visit the gentile sick as one visits the Jewish sick. One must care for the burial of a gentile, just as one must care for the burial of a Jew. [These obligations are universal] because these are the ways of peace.” But rather than simply admitting that the Talmud says, at least here, the very thing he claimed it never says, Bob launches into an extended rant plagiarized from Mohr, Dilling, and Hoffman as documented above. (For more examples of Bob's duplicity when it comes to the Talmud see Is Pope Benedict Guilty of a “perverse resurrection of Talmudic Judaism”? and More Sungenis Dishonesty and Plagiarism with Ben Douglass?

On page 40 of "Conversion", Bob cites an example of Pope John Paul II’s “cordial relations with the Jews”:

One example occurred on January 17, 1998. John Paul II organized the first ever Judaism Day in a Warsaw synagogue, where he stated: “Whoever encounters Christ, encounters Judaism.”

But a little fact checking proves this address was actually given on November 17, 1980, not January 17, 1998. It was not given in Warsaw, but in Mainz, Germany. It was not given in a synagogue. And it was not the occasion for the establishment of Judaism Day; that was done by the Italian bishops sometime around 1988 (see here, here, and here.) Four errors in a single sentence is a rather high error density, but not uncommon in Sungenis’ anti-Semitic writings.

And there is additional sloppy scholarship. Bob repeats his claim that the Antichrist will be of Jewish descent and that this is the teaching of “many” of the Fathers ("Conversion", 51.) At the same time, he again grossly mischaracterizes the patristic support for a future en masse conversion of the Jews, stating that, “Some of the Fathers took this view (Irenaeus, Justin Martyr), but not many” ("Conversion", 22; my emphasis). The problem is that he has his facts exactly backwards – something to which he has been alerted many times. The patristic witness for a future, significant conversion of the Jews to Christ is extremely strong, being supported by at least 21 witnesses of whom nine are Doctors of the Church. This is buttressed by the testimony of numerous prominent medieval and post-medieval witnesses, including several Popes and at least five more Doctors of the Church (see documentation of this here).

Even Fr. Denis Fahey, whom I think nobody will mistake for a shining example of a philosemite - especially in his later writings - after surveying the weight of the witnesses for this belief down through Church history speaks of a significant future conversion of the Jewish people as a certainty: “The conversion of the Jewish people to the true Supernatural Messias is, therefore, certain . . ." (The Kingship of Christ and the Conversion of the Jewish Nation, page 109; my emphasis.) But even after having been presented repeatedly with copious evidence to the contrary, Sungenis continues to push his personal agenda, claiming that “not many” Fathers supported this view.

On the other hand, in support of the claim that the Antichrist will be of Jewish ethnicity and that Jews will play a central role in the reign of Antichrist - which he claims is supported by “many” patristics - Bob cites exactly two Fathers: Sts. Irenaeus and Hippolytus. He includes many additional citations—four pages worth, in fact—but if one takes the time actually to read them, there is no mention of a Jewish Antichrist. Bob follows his quote from St. Hippolytus with an alleged “prophecy” from St. Nilus. But elsewhere, in a context not involving Jews, he has indicated that he knows that this source is untrustworthy (see here.) And in fact, the prophecy says absolutely nothing about Jews. Then follow twelve additional citations from Sts. Anselm, Hildegard, Bridget, Vincent Ferrer, Thomas Aquinas, Bellarmine, Pius X, and the Catechism. Only one of these, St. Anselm, actually mentions Jews, but not in support of Bob’s claim that the Antichrist will be of Jewish ancestry. From the rest, there is not a single mention of anything to do with Jews or Judaism. Yet, in another article, Bob had the audacity to make the silly (and oxymoronic) claim that “Catholic tradition… has unofficially declared that the future Antichrist will be of Jewish extraction” (see here). In keeping with Bob’s completely fabricated claim that Robin Williams is Jewish (a claim he made after Williams said some bigoted things about the Church), Bob continues the bizarre pattern of “finding” evidence against Jews wherever he looks.

Similarly, Bob seeks to bolster his criticism of the RCM document by making the extravagant claim that "all popes prior to the Vatican II have made very strong statements against fraternizing with the Jewish religion." Back in 2007 I called this “a manifest falsehood and wild exaggeration” (see here) and it remains so today. Yes, a few of the popes did make strong statements against excessive fraternizing with Jews and Judaism, but it’s proposterous to say that all 261 of the popes prior to Vatican II did so.

In addition, Bob repeats the claim that “Pope Leo XIII in the 1900 encyclical Tametsi, and Pope Pius XI in the 1925 encyclical Quas Primas and the 1931 encyclical Quadragesimo Anno are quite clear concerning these dangers”, namely, of “fraternizing with the Jewish religion” ("Conversion", 7). Here we recall that Bill Cork was the first, back in 2002, to point out to Bob that those three papal encyclicals say absolutely nothing about Jews or Judaism:

none of these documents say a thing about such "dangers."

Tametsi futura prospicientibus, the encyclical of Pope Leo XIII on Jesus Christ the Redeemer (1900) . . . never uses the word Jew, or Jewish, or Judaism, or any cognate thereof. So he couldn't have been too worried by "fraternizing with the Jewish religion."

Quas primas, encyclical of Pope Pius XI on the Feast of Christ the King (1925), only refers to "the Jews" twice, in reference to specific Biblical passages: "the Jews accused him of breaking the Sabbath," and "the Jews and even the Apostles wrongly supposed that the Messiah would restore the liberties and the kingdom of Israel." Again, he couldn't have been worried by the concerns which trouble Sungenis.

Quadragesimo Anno, encyclical of Pope Pius XI on Reconstruction of the Social Order (1931), does not use the words "Jew," "Judaism," or any cognates. (link)

Bob claims to have read Cork’s critique back in 2002, so he has no excuse for continuing to make these flatly false claims. And, as I pointed out in 2007:

Bob's source for his assertion is the book The Kingship of Christ and Conversion of the Jews, by Fr. Denis Fahey. The section which Bob is drawing from in Fr. Fahey's work actually says this: "The combat against naturalism in general and, therefore, against the organised naturalism of the Jewish nation, is urged upon us, for example, by Pope Leo XIII (Tametsi, 1900) and Pope Pius XI (Quas Primas, 1925, and Quadragesimo Anno, 1931) ." . . .

Note that the extension of "naturalism in general" to "the organised naturalism of the Jewish nation" is Fr. Fahey's and is not reflected in the papal texts. Much less do these documents contain "very strong statements against fraternizing with the Jewish religion" as Bob asserts. He has paraphrased Fr. Fahey in such a way to materially misrepresent these three papal documents. (link)

So, even after being presented with two opportunities to correct himself, Sungenis ignored the facts and republished this serious misrepresentation of papal documents. Sadly, Bob Sungenis continues to devolve into a rank propagandist when Jews are involved.

And lest anyone think that assessment is too harsh, let’s look at Bob’s assertion, made twice in the edited "Conversion" essay, that the meaning of the Hebrew goyim is “cattle”:

Actually, the word “goyim” is the Hebrew word for “animal” or “cattle,” since that is what Jews have traditionally understood Gentiles to be next to ("Conversion", 35)

According to the Talmud, the Gentiles are not created in the image and likeness of God, but are akin to animals. That is why Jews refer to Gentiles as “goyim,” which is the Hebrew word for “cattle.” The Talmud states that Gentiles were placed on the earth to serve the Jews, just as animals serve them (Ibid., 49).

This assertion is right out of the white supremacist playbook (just Google “goyim” and “cattle” and see what you come up with. Be sure to turn off your Internet filter if it filters out material from anti-Semitic groups, because that’s what you’re going to find.)

Sungenis has, on occasion, claimed to have studied the Hebrew language but his repeated assertion concerning the meaning of goyim at the very least calls into question how much he could have absorbed in class. Certainly he did not glean this from any standard Hebrew lexicon. There, consistently, one finds that the meaning is "nation(s)" or "people(s)". Out of over 550 references in the Hebrew Old Testament, goy/goyim is used once with a figurative sense of a swarm of locusts (Jo 1:6) and once “of all species of beasts Zp 2:14” according to the scholarly Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon (p. 156). Holladay’s Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament does not even list this meaning as a possibility. But even in the two instances in which it is used in the context of animals the word goy/goyim means something like "swarm" or "herds" (or perhaps even "nation", in the case of Joel 1:6); it does not itself mean "beast". The translators of the Septuagint consistently translate the Hebrew goyim as ethne in Greek which, again, is the word for "nation", not "animal" or “cattle”.

This gratuitous assertion from Bob again confirms the gravity of his “source problem.” It bears repeating that Bob has done no original work in the field of Judaism. He has done no significant reading in the primary sources of Jewish thought. And he has never seriously interacted with any significant, scholarly secondary works on Judaism.

In regard to Jews and Judaism Bob is merely a “Google scholar” and propagandist of the worst sort. Not only does he simply Google to try to find his information, he consistently and indiscriminately picks material from white supremacist and neo-Nazi sites to present in his articles without any consideration for the welfare of the innocent people upon whom he is foisting such refuse. Although he has excised a majority of the most offensive material from his original 2002 verison of “Conversion of the Jews” the pattern remains. He relies on the likes of anti-Jewish propagandists like Mohr, Dilling, Hoffman and convicted pornographer Roth to provide information on Jews and Judaism.

Sungenis’ latest anti-Semitic rant comes as no great surprise to anyone who has followed his antics since 2002. But if anyone has not been following and comes to this controversy late in the game, we hope that this latest illumination of Sungenis’ “Jew problem” will convince him that Sungenis is absolutely unreliable and dishonest in dealing with Jewish issues. He wishes to be seen as a scholar, but he is, in fact, a plagiarist and propagandist. In the end, as we have repeated numerous times, this provides more proof (if more was needed) that Bishop Rhoades was absolutely right to tell Robert Sungenis to cease and desist from commenting on Jews and Judaism. Bob needs to obey his bishop, for the good of the Church and for the salvation of his soul.

David Palm