Mary Baker Eddy did not mandate that the King James Version of the Bible be used in services in The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and its branches. It is the Bible, not a particular version, which she named with Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, to be the Pastor.

The King James Version was Eddy’s own personal favorite, as we know from her correspondence. However, Eddy did not hesitate to use other translations if she felt they were clearer. She chose to use the wording from a marginal note in the Revised Version for the Cross and Crown emblem rather than use the wording from the King James Version. The Christian Science Monitor’s motto is from the American Standard Version of the Bible.

In her exegeses of the scriptures in Science and Health, Eddy quotes exclusively from the King James Version. When Eddy was revising Science and Health in 1885, she was assisted by Rev. James Henry Wiggin, a former Unitarian minister turned copy editor/indexer. In a letter written during his first year assisting her, Eddy asked him to use the King James Version so that all Scriptural quotations in Science and Health would conform to the same standard. As she emphasized: “My notes on Genesis were upon the [King James] version. It changes the uniformity to go off on another one.” 1

We have been asked if this request by Eddy could also be taken as a mandate that the King James be the only version of the Bible used by Christian Scientists. This does not appear to be the case; again, the letter makes no mention of church services, and was written years before the Bible and Science and Health became pastor for Christian Science services.

While the Bible passages in the body of the Lesson-Sermon have always been taken from the King James Version, occasionally in Eddy’s day the Golden Text or Responsive Reading published in the Christian Science Quarterly for use in church services was taken from a version other than the King James.

In addition, readers of Science and Health will notice that in some instances Eddy herself has utilized other translations, in order to ensure the clarity of the Bible message. She quotes twice from the New Testament as translated by George R. Noyes (313:19, 360:22) and once from the Icelandic translation (525:12). Also note her statement on page 16:

In the phrase, “Deliver us from evil,” the original properly reads, “Deliver us from the evil one.” This reading strengthens our scientific apprehension of the petition, for Christian Science teaches us that “the evil one,” or one evil, is but another name for the first lie and all liars.

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  1. Mary Baker Eddy to James Henry Wiggin, n.d., L02166.