“Historical Consensus and Christian Science: The Career of a Manuscript Controversy”
Johnsen, Thomas C. “Historical Consensus and Christian Science: The Career of a Manuscript Controversy.” The New England Quarterly 53, no. 1 (March 1980): 3–22.
Johnsen’s 1980 overview of the multi-decade controversy over a forgery highlights “the power of consensus myths to shape and even dominate historical perceptions” (3) that endure long after the falsities have been exposed. Walter M. Haushalter claimed in his 1936 publication of Mrs. Eddy Purloins from Hegel to have found a handwritten manuscript by Francis Lieber, a 19th-century political scientist, entitled “The Metaphysical Religion of Hegel.” He further claimed that the document appeared in the attic papers of an uneducated early student of Mary Baker Eddy’s. Haushalter’s book was praised by virtually all of its reviewers, and the ensuing battle over public perceptions was fought over a clear forgery. Research leading to the discovery of forgery was not difficult, because handwriting experts quickly detected the “astonishingly crude and obvious” fraud (6). Despite the fact that four Johns Hopkins professors had given their scholarly imprimatur, Frank Freidel, Lieber’s biographer, initiated questions; and Baptist professor and church historian Conrad Moehlman (in Ordeal by Concordance) demonstrated that in fact a significant portion of “The Metaphysical Religion of Hegel” had been plagiarized from Eddy. As further motives for the forgery came to light, the Christian Science church chose to remain mostly silent, expecting the obvious truth to settle the matter.
Print ISSN: 0028-4866
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Annotations related by category:
- Availability: Online - Academic Credentials or Fee
- Controversy: Plagiarism
- Official Christian Science Publication: No
- People: Eddy, Mary Baker
- People: Hegel, George
- Publication Date: 1956-1980
- Resource Types: Article
- Subjects: Metaphysical
- Subjects: Polemic Literature and Responses
- Subjects: Science and Health Book