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Prophetess of Health: A Study of Ellen G. White (Library of Religious Biography Series) [Paperback]

By Ronald L. Numbers (Author)
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Item description for Prophetess of Health: A Study of Ellen G. White (Library of Religious Biography Series) by Ronald L. Numbers...

Overview
Respected historian of science Ronald Numbers here examines one of the most influential, yet least examined, religious leaders in American history - Ellen G. White, the enigmatic visionary who founded the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Numbers scrutinizes White's life (1827-1915), from her teenage visions and testimonies to her extensive advice on health reform, which influenced the direction of the church she founded. This third edition features a new preface and two key documents that shed further light on White - transcripts of the trial of Elder Israel Dammon in 1845 and the proceedings of the secret Bible Conferences in 1919.

Publishers Description
Respected historian of science Ronald Numbers here examines one of the most influential, yet least examined, religious leaders of the mid-nineteenth century - Ellen G. White, the enigmatic visionary who founded the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Numbers scrutinizes White's life (1827-1915), from her teenage visions and testimonies to her extensive advice on health reform, which influenced the direction of the church she founded. This third edition features a new introduction and two key documents that shed further light on White - transcripts of the trial of Elder I. Dammon in 1845 and the proceedings of the secret Bible Conferences in 1919.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Prophetess of Health: A Study of Ellen G. White (Library of Religious Biography Series) by Ronald L. Numbers has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Choice - 03/01/2009


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Item Specifications...


Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Pages   417
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 6.36" Height: 0.94"
Weight:   1.35 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 1, 2008
Publisher   Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Series  Library Of Religious Biography  
ISBN  0802803954  
ISBN13  9780802803955  


Availability  0 units.


More About Ronald L. Numbers


Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Ronald L. Numbers is Hilldale Professor of the History of Science and Medicine, University of Wisconsin Madison. He has served as president of the History of Science Society, the American Society of Church History, and the International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science, Division of the History of Science and Technology.

Ronald L. Numbers has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Wisconsin-Madison University of Wisconsin, Madison Unive.

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1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General
2Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Religious
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Reviews - What do customers think about Prophetess of Health: A Study of Ellen G. White (Library of Religious Biography Series)?

Prophetess of Health  Dec 15, 2009
This book sounds like is a postive depictation of Mrs. White's life. It is not. It is a narrow, degrading view, very biased negatively of her life. I do not recommend this book.
 
Why Seventh-day Adventism has enduring concern for human health  Nov 22, 2009
Unless you are a Seventh-day Adventist, you may never have heard of Helen Gould White, nee Harmon. She lived from 1827 - 1915 in bad, often wretchedly bad, health most of her long life. In the mid and later 1840s she co-founded with her husband James White and retired sea captain Joseph Bates the Seventh-day Adventist movement. With support from her husband and private secretaries, Ellen went on to write a small library of books on religion, health, women's dress and other topics. She also inspired and built hospitals, clinics and schools in several continents. All these accomplishments and the American environment from whence Ellen Harmon White drew her practices of religion, inspirations and ideas are laid out in leisurely, lucid detail in PROPHETESS OF HEALTH: A STUDY OF ELLEN G. WHITE.

This book first came out in 1976 and was reissued with revisions in 1992 and 2008. It was written by University of Wisconsin Professor of History Ronald L. Numbers. He had been raised a member of an elite Adventist family and for a time enjoyed access to hitherto closely guarded documents of the White Estate. In this book, Professor Numbers is not writing hagiogaphy, i.e., a life of saint. He methodically samples Mrs White's writings and identifies her likeliest literary sources (which she herself often did not). But he also describes her as others saw her, including friends and foes. Even in 2009 Ellen G. White is less well known outside her own denomination than other prophets outside theirs, such as the Mormon Joseph Smith and the Christian Scientist Mary Baker Eddy. In 1976 there were many Adventists who regarded Ellen G. White as an oracle of God, infallible, utterly trustworthy. Then along came Numbers's biographic study, and it was a great shock to many believers. Since then many former Adventists and still faithful Adventists have revisited the critical road that Numbers pioneered. But, with updates, his 2008 third edition still reads very well to non-experts and non-Adventists such as me. It is quite a good introduction to an important and still growing Protestant Evangelical movement. There is nothing mean-spirited in its telling.

Professor Numbers tells Ellen's White's story, warts and all, her fainting spells, comas, visions, prophesying and criticism allegedly from God of people around her. With wife Janet S., Professor Ronald Numbers wrote an Afterword analysis, from the prophetess's own words, of her mind and personality, described by the Numberses as "histrionic" and responding positively and thirstily to attention and public praise.

The 2008 text begins with the prefaces to the editions of 2008, 1998 and 1976 -- in that order. Thereafter the next 266 pages are essentially biography, illustration and commentary -- in loosely chronological order.

There are several appendices of which three deserve showcasing.

Appendix I is a chronological review (pp. 291 - 319) of Ellen's life from 1827 to 1915, drawing upon her own words. Its focus is the subject's physical and mental health.

Appendix 3 is the transcript of a February 17, 1845 public trial in Maine of Millerite/proto-Adventist charismatic leader, Israel Dammon for disturbing the peace and for having no visible means of support. At trial's end, Dammon affirmed "that the end of the world would come within a week" (p. 341). Seventeen year old Ellen Harmon and a second somewhat older prophetess are portrayed as they were seen in raptures at church assemblies by a number of witnesses for both prosecution and defense.

Especially fascinating is Appendix 4 (pp. 344 - 401). It is the transcript of a hitherto unpublished 1919 conference in Maryland in which top Adventist administrators, teachers and pastors, among other things, assessed the role that Ellen G. White should henceforth play not only in progressive Adventist inner circles but also in the churches among the more conservative laity. It is a sensible discussion, but ends with a consensus not to trouble ordinary Adventists with the issues that Professor Numbers would raise in 1976.

Against this rich backdrop, Professor Numbers focuses on and details with many a photograph Ellen White's contributions as a popularizer of other people's ideas about health: against hypnotism, for water cures, against poisonous medicines, for fresh air, simple foods and healthier clothing for women -- including shortened skirts that did not drag the ground and styles that did not require corsets. She traveled widely inside and outside the USA, including a long missionary stint with others in New Zealand and Australia. In the latter country a woman attending one of her lectures made a huge impression on the prophetess by urging her to consider the suffering imposed on animals raised and slaughtered for human consumption.

Ellen White's thinking about health evolved, and in some cases, went back and forth on stimulants, food and drink. Butter? Meat? Tobacco? Spirits? Some were rejected from the beginning, notably tobacco. Her thinking and practice on meat eating wavered but eventually came down vegetarian. By book's end, a fair-minded reader, I think, regards Mrs White as a woman with a lot of common sense, believing strongly that God wants people to be healthy and that they are therefore obliged to adopt a life style promoting health. Before 1870 she was moving to create Adventist-run health centers, based on water cures, healthy meals and exercises. She will also be forever remembered for boosting Dr John Kellogg at Battle Creek, Michigan, the pioneer of granola and corn flakes. And the Adventist learning and medical centers at Loma Linda, California are among her lasting monuments.

Ellen G. White's impact was confined for decades within the small but growing inward-looking Adventist movement. Adventists, by and large, accepted her ideas because she claimed they came directly from God and they believed her. It was once that simple. -OOO-
 
Remarkable treatise!  Jun 2, 2009
Dr Ronald Numbers' book is a historical tour-de force.When I was finished reading it,I felt that I could no longer believe in the prophetic claims of Ellen White and the special mission of the S.D.A. church.

I particularly found Ellen White's notions around human sexualitly,interesting and shocking!Also her peculiar views on the moral effects of flesh eating on human beings is silly and almost comedic.I certainly can not believe that God told Ellen White the things that she said He did,particularly about masturbation,sexual excess,and vegetarianism.

What I found disturbing was that Ellen White ate meat for a very long time,after her alleged health reform vision while chastising others who partook of the same.I was appalled as an S.D.A. to learn that Ellen White ate duck and oysters after her alleged health reform vision!

Ronald Numbers has done the laity and well meaning clergy of the S.D.A. church a wonderful service!!He should be commended.
 
Belief-altering book  Mar 27, 2009
When this book was published in the 70's, it changed the way Seventh-day Adventists, myself included, viewed Ellen G. White. It devastatingly showed the "true believers" in the SDA church how her many books were truly written. I remain a Seventh-day Adventist but my view, and I believe, the entire church's view of EGW, became healthier. Ron Numbers made a major contribution to the understanding of religious "inspiration."
 
Well-written and documented history  Feb 4, 2009
Some historical accounts can be dull, but not this book. Regardless of what you believe about Ellen White or Seventh-day Adventism, there can be no denying Mrs. White was an important figure in 19th century health reform. This book describes why Mrs. White jumped on the health reform bandwagon in the 1860s, and tells of the reformers she adopted her teachings from. What I like best about this book is that it is not a slanted, one-sided view of Ellen White. It presents both the good and the not so good: The health reforms that worked (stop smoking and drinking), and the ones that didn't work out so well (dress reform, marital excess). This book paints the picture of a real woman, a human being, who acquired her teachings not so much from "heavenly visions", but from her readings and interaction with other leading health reformers of her day. If you are tired of reading sugar-coated histories of Ellen White, then look no further. This book tells the REAL history of Ellen White and her health reforms.
 

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