Ordeal by Concordance: Historian Explodes the Lieber Myth
Moehlman, Conrad. Ordeal by Concordance: Historian Explodes the Lieber Myth. New York: Longmans, Green & Co., 1955.
Nineteen years after the publication of Haushalter’s charges of plagiarism in Mrs. Eddy Purloins from Hegel, Dr. Moehlman, a member of First Baptist Church of Rochester, NY, published this scholarly rebuttal to those charges. Moehlman, a professor of the history of Christianity, specialized in the study of literary forgeries. Haushalter claimed that Mary Baker Eddy came into possession (through a strangely convoluted way) of an essay purported to be written by Francis Lieber with authority to convey accurate Hegelian theology, and that Eddy lifted it for the writing of Science and Health. Moehlman used three documents (Lieber’s purported 12-page essay, a title page with a note allegedly written by Eddy, and a confusing letter allegedly composed by Lieber) to demonstrate “in a hundred different ways [why] he is now ‘invincibly convinced’” (145) that the charges were entirely spurious and fraudulent. Moehlman uncovered false claims through handwriting, contents of the essay, and lack of verification anywhere. The title of the book, Ordeal by Concordance, refers to Haushalter’s methodology in searching for evidence of plagiarism, but Moehlman demonstrates how Haushalter’s employment of a concordance cannot be substituted for scientific analysis of context, and how possibly related passages don’t automatically mean agreement in thought.
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