Chronology of Events
- February 17, 1863: James C. Jackson’s article on diphtheria appears in Review. James White in a note expresses confidence in his method of treating diseases.
- February-May, 1863: Several brief articles pertaining to health published in Review.
- June 6, 1863: “It was June 6, 1863, that the great subject of Health Reform was opened before me in vision.” E. G. White, Review and Herald, October 8, 1867.
- Mid or late June, 1863: James White sends for “assortment” of works from Dansville, not knowing, at the time, the name of any publications offered there.
- August 13, 1863: Jackson writes James White apologizing for delay in sending books.
- September 5, 6, 1863: Mrs. White sees ad in Voice of Prophets while in Boston. This, she says, is the first she knew of the existence of the works offered for sale at Dansville.
- October 27, 1863: While Whites are away in the East, Review carries its first article from Laws of Life.
- December 8, 1863: Henry Nichols White, son of James and Ellen White, dies of pneumonia, during their visit at Topsham, Maine.
- December 12, 1863: By this time James White has received the books ordered from Dansville. He has no time to peruse them, and Ellen White says they remain in their wrappers. However, James White did mail one book to a friend in New York.
- Between June, 1863, and August, 1864: Mrs. White speaks to friends against drugs, flesh meats, and in favor of water, pure air, and proper diet. She is often asked if she has read the paper, Laws of Life, or read the works (books) of Trall, Jackson, and others: “My reply was that I had not, neither should I read them till I had fully written out my views.” Review and Herald, October 8, 1867.
- April, 1864: Appeal to Mothers published.
- August, 1864: Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 4, published. Contains chapter on “Health.” This is the first comprehensive published report of the June 6, 1863, vision.
- September 5, 1864: Whites begin three-week visit to Dansville.
- January-June, 1865: Health: or How to Live published in six installments. Each installment contains one article by Ellen White expanding on certain areas presented in the 1864 chapter and introducing materials on marriage, and dress. Each number also contained articles on similar subjects by others. Ellen states: “I did not read any works [books] on health until I had written Spiritual Gifts, Vols. 3 and 4, Appeal to Mothers, and had sketched out most of my six articles in the six numbers of How to Live. . . . And after I had written my six articles for How to Live, I then searched the various works on hygiene and was surprised to find them so nearly in harmony with what the Lord had revealed to me.” — Review and Herald, October 8, 1867.
- August 16, 1865: James White suffers stroke.
- September 14, 1865: Second visit to Dansville begins.
A Word to the Reader
On May 5, 1976, Harper and Row published a 271-page volume carrying the title Prophetess of Health: A Study of Ellen G. White. The manuscript was authored by Dr. Ronald L. Numbers, then an Assistant Professor of the History of Medicine and the History of Science at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Because in our opinion the book does not present an accurate or complete picture of important features of the history reviewed, and because it seems clear to us that Ellen White emerges from the book in a distorted image, the White Estate is duty bound to make information available which will aid those who wish to arrive at a fair judgment based on all the available facts. The pages which follow are not primarily a defense of Ellen G. White. She needs no defense. Rather, those who read the book need a clear picture of the way in which the author of Prophetess of Healthhas used the sources cited.
A cursory glance at the 46 pages of footnotes at the end of the book quickly reveals that the average reader would find it impossible, either from the standpoint of the location of the sources or the time which would be called for, to examine critically many of the key documents referred to. Therefore he is unprepared to judge at first hand the author’s use of his source materials and is left vulnerable to his interpretations.
A 23-page double column document Issued in June 1976 titled, A Discussion and Review of “Prophetess of Health” dealing with some of the main points presented in the book has been quite widely distributed, primarily to Adventist ministers and other worker personnel. Since the publication of the August 2, 1976, Time article “Prophet or Plagiarist,” the document has been made available to all who have requested it. For those who desire to explore the matter in greater depth, this more detailed analysis with its extensive documentation is provided at the cost of duplicating and mailing.
The experience of members of the White Estate staff in examining the sources (and all except two or three are available to us) leads us to wish that all readers of the book might have the same opportunity. At least they should be able to examine the phrases or sentences referred to, or quoted, in their setting. They should also be able to examine related or contrasting exhibits which have a bearing on the subject. This is the principal motivation in the preparation of this critique. All who wish should be able to judge for themselves.
Our plan at first was to provide this critique as a duplicated typewritten document. But so many have indicated a desire to examine the matter in depth—and the White Estate welcomes this—that production plans have been adjusted for it to appear in printed form.
In the Appendix items certain basic documents, not otherwise readily available, have been provided, some in facsimile form. Because, in the approach to this book, Prophetess of Health, much depends on a sound concept of inspiration and its practical operation, several pages of this critique are devoted to a review of the subject. Also included as Appendix F is the A. L. White discussion “Toward a Factual Concept of Inspiration” from the book The Ellen G. White Writings. The reader is urged to explore these. To facilitate preparation of the critique and to bring all sources quoted or referred to easily to the attention of the reader the source references are embodied in the text in abbreviated form. A key to these abbreviations appears on page 2.
In the interest of accuracy, the various allegations of which notice is taken in the critique have been set before the reader in the words of the author of Prophetess of Health. For this, his permission as well as the permission of the publishers, Harper and Row, have been secured.
We would call attention to the fact that many of the allegations introduced in Prophetess of Health are not new. Some of them were dealt with in the last century. Many others were treated carefully and more fully than is practical in this critique in F. D. Nichol’s book, Ellen G. White and Her Critics, currently available at Adventist Book Centers. The seeker for truth will not ignore this valuable source book.
For a well balanced presentation of Ellen G. White as a Prophetess of Health, the reader is directed to the 445 page Story of Our Health Message prepared by Elder O. E. Robinson, who for many years was one of Mrs. White’s secretaries. This volume was first issued in 1943. Since then certain enlargements have been made updating the story to 1965. The book is available as a Christian Home Library volume as well as in a newsprint paperback, the latter at a price of 75¢, and available at all Adventist Book Centers. This valuable historical work should form a part of the library of every Seventh-day Adventist.
The materials presented in this critique have been prepared with care, but under a certain amount of pressure. Several members of the White Estate staff have participated. An early draft was submitted to a large number of Adventist college and university professors and several church leaders. Many have offered helpful criticisms and suggestions which have been much appreciated. The author of Prophetess of Health was given a copy of the early draft and his
suggestions and criticisms were solicited. He had not submitted any comments to date.
The reader will find some variations in methods of approach and style of writing which are attributable to the fact that some areas can be treated with greater clarity by one method than another. The individual style of the White Estate staff member also becomes evident in certain instances.
Such variations do not in any way affect the observations presented. Since we have worked against a close deadline and since this is considered a transitory document, it has not been subject to the usual time consuming book editing and proofreading process accorded a regular denominational book.
The subject index at the close of this document gives ready access to the main topics treated in the body of the text of this critique. The appendix items are not indexed.
Seventh-day Adventists welcome an investigation of their history and of the life record of Ellen G. White, one of the founders of the church. They have nothing to be ashamed of or hide in the record of their development. It was for this reason that the author of Prophetess of Health, while a member of the faculty of Loma Linda University, was accorded access to materials in the White Estate vault. Every source to which he sought access was made available for his careful reading.
However, because of his oftimes onesided and sometimes distorted use of this information this critique is needed. See pp. 31, 32 for a fuller statement on the involvement of denominational agencies in the preparation of his book.
The only concern of the Ellen G. White Estate is that the reader of Prophetess of Health, a Study of Ellen G. White, shall take the time and the pains to gain the complete picture which the full survey of all the points at issue develops.
To consider the various points set forth in Prophetess of Health will lead us to look at the Ellen G. White writings as bits and pieces. We earnestly urge when this review is finished, you, the reader, will pick up Ministry of Healing, or Christ’s Object Lessons, or Desire of Ages, or any other of her books and read them through, chapter by chapter, or at least read a few chapters. Thus Gods messages, which she bears will come through with all their deep insights, their love, their gentleness, their consistency, and their soul-elevating beauty. Those who do so will see Ellen G. White as she truly was, the messenger of the Lord.
W.P. Bradley, President
The Ellen G. White Estate
August 26, 1976