Thursday, November 22, 2018

Herman Hoeh's Muddled Quoting of Irenaeus (1955)

In his article, "The Astounding Truth About Easter," (Plain Truth, April 1955, pp. 3-6, 16) Herman Hoeh twice quoted the second Century church leader, Irenaeus, but misleadingly implied that his two quotations were taken from the same piece of writing when, in fact, he was quoting from two different sources, the first of which is not given any citation.

This fact may be seen below (pp. 6, 16).
Irenaeus wrote even more regarding the observance of Easter at Rome and elsewhere as follows: “But Polycarp also was not only instructed by the apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church of Smyrna . . . He it was who, coming to Rome in the time of Anicetus”- bishop of Rome around 154 A.D.- “caused many to turn away from the . . . heretics to the Church of God, proclaiming that he had received this one and sole truth from the apostles . . . ” While at Rome, Polycarp discussed the matter of Easter with the Roman bishop.  
Irenaeus continued: “For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp not to observe it”--the passover--“because he had always observed it with John the disciple of our Lord, and the rest of the apostles, with whom he associated; and neither did Polycarp persuade Anicetus to observe it, who said that he was bound to follow the customs of the presbyters before him” (Quoted from Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, book V, chap. 24, in the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1 ).  
The highlighted quote is from Irenaeus' polemic, Against Heresies, Book III, Chapter 3, Section 4. Irenaeus wrote this book around AD 184 in order to combat Gnosticism.

In the second paragraph, right after he wrote "Irenaeus continues", Hoeh then switches to quoting Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History, Book V, Chapter 24. That quote is from a book written over a hundred years after Irenaeus' life. That passage quotes a now lost letter written by Irenaeus.

Hoeh does not disclose the source of the first quote. He misleadingly implies both quotations were from the same piece of writing when says "Irenaeus continues" after the first quote.

Hoeh's statement that "Irenaeus continued" is quite galling. What possible explanation is there for Hoeh to mislead his readers in this way? Hoeh speaks so confidently in this article of various sensationalist assertions he makes about Easter and yet he strangely presents quotations from two different books as though he himself saw them placed together.

Was this was a malicious lie? Of course since Hoeh died in 2004 he is not able to explain or defend himself. It is not possible to make definitive conclusions about why he muddled his quotations here.

If it was a malicious lie it is hard to determine why he misleadingly implied that a quote from Irenaeus' Against Heresies, Book III, Chapter 3, Section 4 was from Eusebius' work or why he failed to note the source of the first quotation.

But we should take that these quotes are from two different books, written by different authors, one of which was written over a century after Irenaeus' life. When Hoeh encountered these passages he likely would have seen them in different books or maybe even different parts of the same volume. It is hard to imagine him seeing these passages together.

And yet right after he finishes quoting from Against Heresies he writes, "Irenaeus continued", but then quotes from a book written a century after Irenaeus' death. Hoeh even cites Eusebius' book but never mentions Irenaeus' Against Heresies.

Later in 1973 HWA's organization began to publish a booklet entitled "The Plain Truth About Easter." The author was listed as Herbert W. Armstrong. However a long section of the booklet was plagiarized from Herman Hoeh's 1955 article, "The Astounding Truth About Easter." This section contained the muddled quotes discussed above. There the error remained uncorrected.

So many thousands of people had put their trust in Herman Hoeh's writings, many of whom did not know he could muddle quotations like this. People need to know about problems like this in the writings of HWA's organization.


  1. Many readers in the days of these booklets were probably unfamiliar with the way in which peer-reviewed scholarly articles were meant to be written, so plagiarism and lack of proper source references would not be noticed.
    Regarding the topic, I remember a blog post or comment in Ambassador Report about Anicetus moving Passover to Sunday. The reason given was a conflict over an existing fasting tradition which later became the Lenten season. The timing of the fast would have ended after Passover, so Anicetus' solution was to change the time of Passover.

  2. That's our Herbie. Stealing from others, the piece of shit.

  3. I’ve stated before, HWA and others associated with him appear to have used Hislop as their model for research, and conclusions. Anyone who digs more deeply into the topics presented by HWA and Co. soon realizes that the research which was so authoritatively presented was slipshod and shoe-horned in such a way as to make their references say what HWA wanted them to say.

    Although largely debunked, this “research” is so pervasive on the internet that if you Google certain topics, all of the references that come up are ACOG sites, or people quoting ACOG sites.

    Back in the day, who would have known where to go for the rest of the story behind Dr. Hoeh’s proof texts? Armstrongism condemned the Antenicene Fathers as having been “Catholic”, and yet used them when it was convenient to support Armstrong conclusions. It’s pathetic, but at one time we all bought into it.


  4. Opinionated is a cat holic!