This post covers a lesser-known topic, the idea of Mary Baker Eddy as the Woman in Revelation. Until I started researching Christian Science, MBE and the colorful, often forgotten history of CS, I had never heard of this theory, neither had anyone else on the ExCS Admin Team. The theological debate is less interesting than the drama and intrigue that surrounded some of these decisions and official statements. For those interested in further reading on the issue, there are extensive links — all of them work as of the time of publication.
This post previously appeared on kindism.org, and has been reprinted with slight modifications and updates to external sources.
In April, 1938, a six-member committee of editors and former editors of CS periodicals was assembled “to discover just what Mrs. Eddy believed concerning herself with respect to Scriptural prophecy.” The committee was given access to Mrs. Eddy’s private correspondence, and published writings. After five years and 57 typewritten pages, the Board of Directors published a statement Mrs. Eddy regarded herself as having fulfilled Bible prophecy in the July 1943 issue of the Christian Science Journal. (1)
I am not an expert on the Book of Revelation, Ms. Eddy’s views, or the finer points of the controversy that followed the Board’s 1943 decision to announce to the world Ms. Eddy’s place in Scriptural prophecy. I was never taught about Ms. Eddy’s views on the topic, and the book of Revelation was not mentioned much in my Sunday School classes. I was only vaguely aware of any controversy in the 1990s over TMC’s media empire and the Bliss Knapp book, and had only read little bits here and there in very unauthorized literature.
Did Ms. Eddy consider herself to be the woman in Revelation? In Science & Health she has an entire chapter dedicated to the Apocalypse, and she tells the reader,
Mortals, obey the heavenly evangel. Take divine Science. Read this book from beginning to end. Study it, ponder it. (emphasis mine)
I don’t think it is too much of a leap to read “divine Science” and “this book” as referring to Science & Health. As for any blatant statement that she is the woman in Revelation, to the best of my knowledge she never makes such a statement in S&H (2).
Bliss Knapp is one of the better known perpetrators of this idea. His foundation has made extended documentation available to substantiate these views. The main one, titled Historical Facts Regarding Mary Baker Eddy’s Student, Bliss Knapp, has extensive citations from Miscellaneous Writings. On page 15 of these Historical Facts the heading of Fulfillment of Prophecy is discussed:
- The Destiny of The Mother Church places on record our Leader’s spiritual life story and how she fulfills Bible prophecy. It has also brought out into the open the division in teaching about our Leader which began at the time of the Woodbury trial. After the trial, one group of teachers took Mrs. Eddy’s statement quite literally that ” … a little white-haired, old lady couldn’t be the woman in the Apocalypse.” (3) In this line of teaching, she was just Mark Baker’s daughter who had an unusual spiritual gift. However, her own faithful students accepted her as God’s chosen Messenger bringing the promised Comforter, — the woman with the leaven foretold by Jesus and spiritually identified with his prophecy to John. (Mrs. Eddy refers to 15 Jesus’ parable of the leaven in Science and Health page 117:29 and also in Miscellaneous Writings page 174:30.)
So where does that leave us today? Official Church Doctrine – at least as I was taught it, does not mention Ms. Eddy as the woman in Revelation. A few of my Sunday School teachers mentioned that the second coming of Christ had occurred, and was embodied in Christian Science, but they never really elaborated on these ideas.
I don’t really have an opinion on Ms. Eddy’s place as the woman in Revelation but the intrigue and infighting among the church makes for interesting reading.
Bible Resources on Revelation
Books & News paper articles which deal with the issue on some level
Destiny of the Mother Church Controversy & Financial Crisis
- http://www.endtime.org/2ndcoming/2ndcoming.html, I am still looking for the actual CSJournal article
- I may be wrong about this, please let me know if I am and send the citation!
- On p. 8 of Historical Facts “Ira Knapp had explained to his family, that he could not say in court that she was the woman in the Apocalypse, because he knew of Mrs. Woodbury’s intent to bring Mrs. Eddy into court to make her publicly declare she was “the Woman”. This would not have been acceptable to other Christians at that time.” No kidding.