Have changes been made to Science and Health since 1910?

February 24, 2020

We are occasionally asked if changes have been made to Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures since Mary Baker Eddy’s passing on December 3, 1910.

Late that year Eddy made her last edits to the book. In November she asked that her picture be removed and authorized her final changes to the text.1 These changes were incorporated in the early 1911 printings.

Since that time The First Church of Christ, Scientist (The Mother Church) has not changed the wording of Eddy’s text. Furthermore, the Christian Science Board of Directors (the publisher) has stated unequivocally that Eddy’s original English text of Science and Health will never be altered. The appearance of the book (typography and layout) has, however, been modified in some editions over the years.2

Also, two changes were made to the testimonies in the chapter titled “Fruitage” after 1910. Testimonies have been replaced in this chapter five times since it first appeared in 1902, in the 226th edition of Science and Health. The first instance occurred in early 1907, when all but one of the testimonies were replaced in a major revision of the book.3 Two testimonies were removed after that time with Eddy’s approval. They were replaced by five new testimonies. After Eddy’s passing, two more were removed because the writers had stopped studying Christian Science or no longer led lives representative of its teachings—one in 1912 and another in 1925, when the publisher added a new testimony as its replacement.

Sometime in June 1907, Eddy was notified that one of the new testifiers, actor Frank Roberts of New York City, had recently died. An obituary stated that he had left an acting engagement because of illness and was “ill but a few days” before passing on in a private hospital in Buffalo.4 We do not know any further details about Roberts’s death or what was reported to Eddy concerning it. On June 21 her secretary H. Cornell Wilson wrote to the Publisher of Science and Health:

A letter just received tells me that Mr. Frank Roberts, the actor, has passed on. It is also stated that the chapter on Fruitage in the late editions of Science and Health contains a testimonial of the late Mr. Roberts. (See p. 659). Before the new book is completed this testimony should, I understand, should be taken out.5

This incident was reported to Eddy while a proofreader was examining the printing plates for “Fruitage.”6 She confirmed with the proofreader that the testimony should be replaced: “Having just been told that the author of the testimonial in question has passed on I agree… that the insertion of another testimonial to fill the space in S. & H. is important.”7 Roberts’s testimony “Desire for Liquor Healed” (659–662) was replaced with four testimonies: “The Textbook Makes Operation Unnecessary” (659–660), “Kidney Disease and Eye Trouble Healed” (660–661), “Disease of Bowels Healed” (661–662), and “Healed by Reading the Textbook” (662).

Another testimony was removed at Eddy’s direction in 1909. That January the Christian Science Board of Directors forwarded to Eddy statements from Annie R. Michael, a Christian Science teacher, and Hattie J. Stevens, a Christian Science practitioner. They were concerned about a testimony titled “Cancer Healed” by Nellie C. Cramer of Oneonta, New York (600–601). Stevens reported that Cramer was a “public character” and was using “the church for a cloak” to cover up her impure and insincere life. Stevens felt that Cramer’s actions were well-known in the Oneonta community and noted that, although Cramer was never a member of the church there, she was no longer attending services.8 Michael felt Cramer did not have “an honest desire” and that the testimony “has given us trouble, and embarrassment a number of times, and I am sure you, as well as we, will be glad to have it omitted.”9 On January 30 Eddy told her Publisher, Allison V. Stewart, “Please remove it and select a good one and put in its place”10 The testimony was replaced with “Rheumatism Healed” (600–601).

The first removal of a testimony after Eddy’s passing occurred in 1912. In late 1910 a Reading Room Librarian in Kansas City, Missouri, wrote to Stewart as Publisher of Eddy’s writings. She was concerned about a testimony titled “A Priceless Boon” by Newton R. Fuller (698–699):

A Mr. Fuller who now lives here and attends 3rd Church claims this is his testimony. You will see that he says he is an entirely well man, but if any one would investigate this statement, he would find it far from true now. I don’t know what the claim would be called, either rheumatism or paralysis, he drags one foot and one arm is useless. He is not always ragged but is never clean, his cloths [sic] or his person. He often comes to the Reading Room, and talks more like a child than a man. I have been told that this present physical condition began about two years ago.11

In July 1911 Stewart asked the Christian Science Committee on Publication for Missouri to quietly investigate the facts about Fuller’s “present condition.”12 After receiving a report in September, Stewart replied: “You certainly have taken great pains to ascertain the facts, and your report regarding Mr. Fuller is very complete and comprehensive. I shall place the report before the proper parties, and I have no doubt some action will be taken in the matter.”13 The testimony was removed in 1912 and not replaced.

A second testimony was removed after Eddy’s passing in 1925. Belle B. Coleman (later Belle B. Bartram) had an account titled “Insanity and Epilepsy Healed” (604–605). In 1921 she withdrew from The Mother Church and joined Annie C. Bill’s dissident movement, called The Parent Church. In 1925 her testimony was replaced with “Spinal Trouble and Indigestion Healed” (604–605).

No testimonies in “Fruitage” have changed since 1925.

For more information about the development of “Fruitage,” see the article “What is the background to the chapter titled ‘Fruitage’ in Science and Health?”

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  1. Adam H. Dickey to Allison V. Stewart, 10 November 1910, L07287; Proof page of Science and Health, 15 November 1910, Subject File, Eddy, Mary Baker (1821 -1910): Writings – Science and Health – Revisions 1910
  2. Only The Mother Church and The Christian Science Publishing Society may legally use the trademarked Cross and Crown and Mary Baker Eddy’s signature on their products. The appearance of these trademarks on publications in any media indicates The Mother Church as their source.
  3. “The Christian Science Textbook,” The Christian Science Journal, February 1907, 654, https://journal.christianscience.com/shared/view/xqeyp7437w?s=t.
  4. “The Death Record,” The Buffalo Commercial (Buffalo, New York), 21 May 1907, 2.
  5. H. Cornell Wilson to Joseph Armstrong, 21 June 1907, L11893.
  6. Armstrong to Eddy, 19 June 1907, IC003cP2.03a.051.
  7. Eddy to William D. McCrackan, 22 June 1907, L13015.
  8. Hattie J. Stevens, 18 January 1909, L09448B.
  9. Annie R. Michael to William B. Johnson, 20 January 1909, L09448A.
  10. Calvin A. Frye to Stewart, 30 January 1909, L09448.
  11. Anna Hudson Smith to Stewart, 4 January 1911, Subject File, Mary Baker Eddy – Writings – Science and Health – Chapters – “Fruitage” – General
  12. Stewart to Albert E. Lombard, 27 July 1911, Subject File, Mary Baker Eddy – Writings – Science and Health – Chapters – “Fruitage” – General.
  13. Stewart to Lombard, 16 September 1911, Subject File, Mary Baker Eddy – Writings – Science and Health – Chapters – “Fruitage” – General.