“The Bible and Christian Scientists”
Hamilton, Michael W. “The Bible and Christian Scientists.” Pages 661–80 in The Oxford Handbook of the Bible in America, ed. Paul C. Gutjahr. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017.
Hamilton contends that the Bible, not Phineas P. Quimby or Transcendentalists, was the primary influence on Mary Baker Eddy’s life and writings. She never assigned authority to her primary work Science and Health over the Bible—”the most significant source for her ideas” (661). Her devotion to the Bible began with her Puritan heritage and family piety, was refined by a lifetime of consecrated study, and deepened by her desperate need to regain her own health and her desire to relieve human suffering. Hamilton then describes Eddy’s thirty-year writing and revisions of Science and Health, where the Bible and Christianity were the focus, as evident in her chapters “Prayer” and “Atonement and Eucharist,” plus a “Key to the Scriptures” comprised of “Genesis,” the “Apocalypse,” and a “Glossary” of biblical terms. Eddy appointed the Bible and Science and Health the dual pastor of her Church, which “publicly yoked the Bible to Science and Health” (662). She then instituted a Bible Lesson for daily study on 26 different subjects, believing the study of the Bible Lesson would deepen faith and bring spirituality and healing to lives, what Christian Science terms “demonstration” (668). Conversely, many who found healing in Christian Science were drawn to a deeper relationship with the Bible.
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