A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeye's fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from March 20, 2011
“Text without context is pretext”

"A text without a context is a pretext” has been popularized by Rev. Jesse Jackson and theologian D.A. Carson, but the saying dates to at least 1912 and has long been popular with scholars and interpreters of the Bible. The saying has been used in other fields besides Bible study, such as journalism and government.

Wikipedia: D. A. Carson
Donald Arthur Carson (born December 21, 1946) is a Canadian-born evangelical theologian and professor of New Testament.
Carson has quoted this adage in his lectures for several decades, before it gained popularity as a result of being quoted out of context by Jesse Jackson: “Text, without context, is pretext.” (Sheldon R. Gawiser & G. Evans Witt, A Journalist’s Guide to Public Opinion Polls, Praeger, 1994, p. 111.)

Google News Archive
14 June 1912, Spartanburg (SC) Herald, “Conference of Epworth League Well Attended,” pg. 5, col. 2:
Text, Context, Pretext.
“John Hutten, of Manchester, in the quaint manner characteristic of him, was given to saying that a text without a context is a pretext.”

23 November 1924, Atlanta (GA) Constitution, “Things New and Old About the Bible: Literary Method of Interpretation,” pg. E3: 
The literary method reads every passage in the light of its context. Some one has wittily said, “A text without the context is a pretext.”

Google Books
Exploring the Bible;
A study of background and principles

By Frank Ely Gaebelein
London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott
Pg. 181:
Someone has remarked with a good deal of wit and much truth that “a text without a context is a pretext.”

Google Books
Man’s Way:
A first book in philosophy

By Henry Van Zandt Cobb
London: Longman’s, Green and Co.
Pg. 190:
“Text without context is pretext.” In using language as a means of communication, it is fundamental to keep this in mind, for we can communicate only when the living contexts of our human experience enable us to find a common meaning in the language which we employ.

Google Books
Capers of the Clergy:
The human side of the ministry

By DeWitt Matthews
Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House
Pg. 126:
Who has not heard the ancient witticism, “A text without context is a pretext”?

Google News Archive
23 May 1982, Gainesville (FL) Sun, “Voting Eights Act Weakened” by Jesse Jackson, pg. 5A, col. 2:
In preaching, a text without a context is a pretext. The same is true in the law.

18 March 1984, Miami (FL) Herald, “Snafus stir fuss among reporters with (Jesse—ed.) Jackson,” pg. 20A:
Text without context is pretext.

Google Books
My soul looks back, ‘less I forget:
A collection of quotations by people of color

By D. Winbush Riley
New York, NY: HarperCollinsPublishers
Pg. 443:
Text without context is pretext.
HOWARD THURMAN, Disciplines of the Spirit, 1965

Google News Archive
21 April 1993, Milwaukee (WI) Journal, “Pro-lifers’ goal is to prevent violence caused by abortion” by Monica Migliorino Miller,
“TEXT WITHOUT context is pretext.” Thus spoke the Rev. Jessie Jackson when some sought to slander him by distorting his statements.” pg. A12, col. 3:

Google Books
Teaching Dance as Art in Education
By Brenda Pugh MacCutchen
Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics
Pg. 15:
“Content without context is pretext,” said Warren Bennis (lecture at Wilson Learning Client Conference, 1982, Minneapolis, MM).

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Military/Religion /Health • (1) Comments • Sunday, March 20, 2011 • Permalink