“The (Un)Plain Bible: New Religious Movements and Alternative Scriptures in Nineteenth Century America”
Willsky, Lydia. “The (Un)Plain Bible: New Religious Movements and Alternative Scriptures in Nineteenth Century America.” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 17, no. 4 (2014): 13–36.
Willsky explores how Joseph Smith’s Book of Mormon, Eddy’s Science and Health, and Henry David Thoreau’s manuscript, Wild Fruits, were reactions to “the dogmatism of the Plain Bible ethos of American Protestantism” (15). The predominant 19th-century interpretation of the Bible as ‘plain’ meant its message, as particularly understood by Reformed and evangelical Protestant culture, was obvious and authoritatively, singularly true. “The best attempt to modify this notion was made by Mary Baker Eddy, for whom the Bible’s message was the Divine Science of mind healing” (15). Eddy sought to make biblical meaning even more plain by presenting “the science of real being” (Science and Health, 129) in her textbook to be read side-by-side with the Bible. “Her work stood as a commentary on the [Bible] text, or as a hermeneutic for reading the Bible based on her divine healing revelations” (24). Willsky’s conclusion is that by “extending the canon through their various scriptural contributions, however, they [Smith, Eddy, Thoreau] effectively denied that the Bible was a self-sufficient authority for its own truths, which were legion” (30). However, Eddy’s first tenet of Christian Science is: “As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life” (Science and Health, 497).
Print ISSN: 1092-6690
Annotations related by category:
- Availability: Online - Academic Credentials or Fee
- Controversy: Theological Controversies
- Official Christian Science Publication: No
- People: Eddy, Mary Baker
- People: Thoreau, Henry David
- Publication Date: 2011-2020
- Resource Types: Article
- Subjects: Bible
- Subjects: Science and Health Book
- Subjects: Theology