“America’s Bibles: Canon, Commentary, and Community”
Stein, Stephen J. “America’s Bibles: Canon, Commentary, and Community.” Church History 64, no. 2 (June 1995): 169–84.
Stein explores the new scriptures that arose out of America and the three factors present in “the scripturalizing process…—canon, commentary and community” (182). Stein shows how the texts of such visionaries as Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, Ellen White and Philemon Stewart of the Shakers became holy scripture within their particular communities, as they each ventured beyond canon to interpret, clarify and expand upon the biblical text. Stein sees Eddy’s Science and Health as a kind of wisdom literature—”metaphysical and quasi-philosophical… and yet explicitly biblical” (175). Eddy would see herself as a scribe “echoing the harmonies of heaven in divine metaphysics” (Miscellany, 115), yet her text was also a product of 45 years of constant revision. Science and Health would gain the official office of Pastor alongside the Bible as primary—the Church’s first tenet makes clear that the “inspired Word of the Bible” is one’s “sufficient guide to eternal life” (Eddy, Church Manual, 15). However, as “Key” to the Bible and “the voice of Truth to this age” (Science and Health, 456), Eddy’s sacred text is intended “to be studied in its own right” (177). Believing in Eddy’s interpretation sets the community apart and is “perhaps the defining feature of the Church…” (177).
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