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From the RFPA Board—A Letter Re: Copyediting

From the RFPA Board—A Letter Re: Copyediting

From the RFPA Board—A Letter Re: Copyediting

Dear RFPA Supporter,

Members of the Board and staff of the RFPA have recently received questions concerning some of our books. In response to these questions, we have carefully researched the titles in question and have found that some of these books were improperly copyedited. We are deeply sorry that this happened and are working as quickly as possible to correct this. Our in-house definition of copyediting is as follows:

“The purpose of copyediting is to make sure a piece of writing is accurate, clear, correct, and in accordance with the house style sheet, Chicago Manual of Style, and industry standards. Copyediting is a step in getting a text ready to publish. A copyeditor approaches the text from the viewpoint of the reader not the author, advocating for the reader and being a quality control person for the publication.

Copyediting is checking a manuscript for spelling, capitalization, punctuation, verb tenses, syntax, grammar, missed words, and paragraph length. It also involves checking for consistency in spelling, hyphenation, numerals, fonts, and capitalization; flagging ambiguous or factually incorrect statements; smoothing and streamlining text to make it flow clearly from one point to the next; and deleting unnecessary words. Copyediting involves correcting the language of the text.”

In the realm of the publishing world, there are a few types of changes that do not need author approval. For example, when citing a Bible text, it could be written “Ephesians 2:8-10” or “Eph. 2:8-10.” These types of things are a matter of style, and each publishing house has its own style sheet. However, changes a copyeditor makes to a manuscript beyond this standard must be approved by the author. Significantly, the changes made to some RFPA books went beyond what is allowable according to a style sheet and extended to changing words and even thoughts. Also of significance is that the authors are deceased; therefore, they were unable to give approval to the changes. The books affected are The Triple Knowledge vols. 1-10, The Amazing Cross, The Royal Sufferer, and Wonder of Grace by Herman Hoeksema; and Voice of Our Fathers by Homer Hoeksema.

One example of the extent of the changes can be found in Herman Hoeksema’s commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism. On LD 32 Hoeksema writes “The Heidelberg Catechism teaches, in the first place, that good works are the fruits of faith; and secondly, that by these fruits one may be assured of his faith.” This was changed to read “Question and answer 91 teach that good works are fruits of faith.” (see example 1 below)

A further example can be found in Voice of Our Fathers by Homer Hoeksema where the entire sentence “It is evident here that the article speaks, therefore, of regeneration in the broader sense of the word” is removed. This phrase was referenced on page 68 of the second part of the September 2019 classis west agenda. There was some confusion and concern when it was not found in the second edition. (see example 2 below)

The Board of the RFPA takes full responsibility for republishing these books in their edited form and is taking steps to rectify the situation. We have stopped selling all copies of these books. We have also tasked our staff with getting digital files of the original works, so we can reprint them and replace all the improperly edited copies that were sold. In addition, we have updated our publication process to ensure that deceased authors are not improperly edited. If extensive edits are approved, this will be clearly explained at the beginning of a republished book. Finally, it is going to take some time to make this right, and we ask for your patience as we work to correct this problem. Once these books are republished, we will gladly replace improperly edited books with new copies.

If you would like to be added to a mailing list to inform you when various title reprints have been completed, please contact our office.

In all humility,

The RFPA Board

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