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Prophetess of Health: A Study of Ellen G. White (Library of Religious Biography) Paperback – July 2, 2008

3.2 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Spectrum"
"An excellent, meticulously documented social history, whose author is an expert intellectual detective. . . When one reads about her success in starting a worldwide system of medical missions and hospitals, and the continuing services performed by the Adventist groups, one is astonished again that it took so long for Ellen G. White to be written about by an able and dispassionate biographer."
"American History Review"
"Ronald L. Numbers has written an excellent case study in the affinity between unorthodox religion and heterodox medicine."
"Library Journal"
"The author gives an honest, unbiased account of the contradictions and possible plagiarism in White's writings, the vacillation of her methods, the revelries among the men who ran the medical institute, and the gullibility of the public regarding health. An informative work on one aspect of American medical history."
"Christianity Today"
""Prophetess of Health"treats with considerable documentation the health writings of the Adventist leader."
"The Christian Century"
"Ellen G. White as much as anyone is the founder of modern Seventh-day Adventism, and deserves to be as well known as, say, Mary Baker Eddy. For some reason or other she has generally escaped scrutiny. Too bad, for her story as prophetess, health reformer, and religious leader is rarely matched in American religious annals, and Ronald Numbers is the man equipped to tell it. . . The intention of the book is not muckraking but the setting right of accounts.""

About the Author

Ronald L. Numbers is Hilldale Professor Emeritus of the History of Science and Medicine at the University of Wisconsin Madison.
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Product Details

  • Series: Library of Religious Biography
  • Paperback: 456 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.; 3 edition (July 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802803954
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802803955
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,063,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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As a former SDA myself who was educated in that church's school system through the first year of college, this book had a huge impact on my life. Ron Numbers is not just a disgruntled former SDA, he was SDA "royalty", related to some of the top names in Adventist leadership. He started the book with the intention of simply providing a historical context for the writings of Ellen White, and his connections within the church gave him unusually broad access to her writings and writings of her contemporary church leadership. He strikes a balanced, academic tone throughout the book and does not stoop to the axe-grinding of many former SDAs. It is my understanding in talking with several SDA friends of mine, that Ron Numbers will be invited to an Adventist History conference as a speaker. I believe anyone interested in a balanced view of SDA history needs to read this book.
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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."
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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.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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