Perhaps a bit late but the topic of whether Venter actually created new life came up again in a recent workshop I was at, the conclusion:
So what did he do? By analogy what he did was akin to someone taking the Koran written in Arabic or an ancient Archimedean text written in Greek and creating an exact copy. Beautifully executed but the copiest had no idea what the text said. Venter is the modern version of a dedicated medieval monk.