From the Papers: The author’s voice

May 18, 2020

Authors often have a recognizable style or turn of phrase. As we transcribe and annotate Mary Baker Eddy’s correspondence, we sometimes notice phrases similar to wording found in her published books.

For example, in 1882 Eddy reported to a student that she had just taught a large class and that many people were attending Sunday Christian Science services. Referring to this growth, she wrote, “The ship of science is again walking the wave, rising above the billows, biding defiance to the flood-gates of error, for God is at the helm” (see L04885). Later she would use a similar phrase in a different context, in “Address Before the Alumni of the Massachusetts Metaphysical College, 1895.” This is now published in Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896: “We have nothing to fear when Love is at the helm of thought, but everything to enjoy on earth and in heaven” (p. 113).

Another example we’ve noted is how Eddy described Jesus. Two places in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures identify him first as “the best,” and later as “the most scientific,” man “that ever trod the globe” (pp. 52, 313). Similar descriptions using that same phrase also appear in several of her sermon texts. For instance, in 1880 she mused in a Christmas sermon: “Millions of children were born before the babe of Bethlehem, but they were not heralded by angels or tokens in the heavens. History furnishes the fact that the meek Nazarene was the most conspicuous character that ever trod the globe” (A10085). She also preached to her Hawthorne Hall congregation in 1884, observing that “Jesus, the most master Builder, the most scientific Man that ever trod the globe, rendered all material law null and void in his demonstrations” (A10088). Several other sermons also include this favored phrase (see A10366, A10380C, A10367).

Explore the Mary Baker Eddy Papers and find out if you hear a familiar authorial voice.

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