“Retrospection and Introspection: The Gospel According to Mary Baker Eddy”
Stein, Stephen J. “Retrospection and Introspection: The Gospel According to Mary Baker Eddy.” The Harvard Theological Review 75, no. 1 (1982): 97–116.
Through an examination of the content and structure of Mary Baker Eddy’s autobiography Retrospection and Introspection, Stein, a scholar of American religion and not a Christian Scientist, observes striking parallels between the accounts of Jesus in the canonical gospels and the stages of Eddy’s life as she depicts them. Eddy’s “sainted mother” (100) and her spiritually precocious rejection at the age of twelve of Calvinism’s predestination, evokes Jesus’s mother Mary and the young Jesus in the temple “about his Father’s business” (Luke 2:49). Eddy, like Jesus, also had a time of ‘temptation’—a dark period of trial and heartache due to the loss of husband, child and health. What followed was Eddy’s revelation of her “new gospel” (103), and her transition from private life to public preaching, healing and teaching—with much self-sacrifice and opposition in its wake. Likewise, was Jesus’s revelatory baptism followed by his public ministry tainted by hostility. Both Jesus and Eddy would gather up and nourish disciples, focusing on the pastoral needs of their followers to ensure continuity of mission. Like Jesus, Eddy, in the last chapters of her autobiography, centers on her teachings—her “Sermon on the Mount” (108) closing with a “farewell discourse” (111)—a message of encouragement and counsel.
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