Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Friday, July 04, 2008

Ellen White and Henry Melvill

From  The Inspired and Inspiring Ellen White, Part 1: 1982 in Historical Perspective by Arthur Patrick:
One of the most important areas of study focused on Ellen G. White's extensive recourse to the writings of other authors. The White Estate has reconstructed carefully the titles of some of the books she used in "A Bibliography of Ellen G. White's Private and Office Libraries," a 50-page document. A 46-page pamphlet "E. G. White's Literary Work: An Update" gives a popular introduction to this subject as it is now understood. A comprehensive example of Ellen White's approach was examined in an 85-page document. "Henry Melvill and Ellen G. White: A Study in Literary and Theological Relationships." Articles from Adventist Review of 17 September 1981 were distributed in a reprint under the title, "Was Ellen G. White a Plagiarist?" An appeal was made for assistance by competent and dedicated researchers in the large work yet remaining to be done before we can fully understand and interpret the details of this subject, even though the major outlines are evident.
In the online document The Truth About The White Lie prepared by the staff of the Ellen G. White Estate in cooperation with the Biblical Research Institute and the Ministerial Association of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists first published in 1982 and revised in January 1999. The end section called "For Further Study" contains the following indication of publications to come:

[Note: Documents below marked with a double asterisk (**) were available at the time of this paper's publication in 1981 but are no longer in print. However, they are being prepared for on-line viewing at this site.]

One of the articles mentioned is the following:
**"Henry Melvill and Ellen G. White: A Study in Literary and Theological Relationships." An interim report on a cooperative study project undertaken by Ron Graybill, Warren H. Johns, and Tim Poirier, in which Ellen White's selective use of Anglican clergyman Henry Melvill's book of sermons is examined. 107 pp.
Why has it taken nearly 10 years to provide this document online? I can’t answer for the White Estate but I think it is because the document is pretty powerful in showing that Ellen White was heavily indebted to Henry Melvill for both language and very likely some of her theological ideas. True she did not use all of Melvill’s ideas but then the reality is that few of us use all the theological ideas of another person no matter how much we agree or admire their work.

In hope of spurring the White Estate to release their proposed online documents I am going to post a link to a searchable PDF of “Henry Melvill and Ellen G. White: A Study in Literary and Theological Relationships”. (links are good for about 2 weeks so if it does not work make a comment and I will renew the link)
It is interesting to read the first section of the book which contains information about Melvill and opinions by the authors of their faith in Ellen White as a prophet. They however do acknowledge her use of Melvill, something that still seems to be hard for many SDA's to accept.
Only faith can say it was the inspiration of the Holy Spirit rather than mere common sense which enabled Ellen White to choose the best and leave the rest of Melvill, but choose she did, using some ser­mons, ignoring others, picking some thoughts and passing others by. She moved back and forth within sermons, weaving Melvill's thoughts and words together with the thoughts and words of other authors as well as her own into a fabric distinctly different from his.
We will continue this study so as to analyze Melvill's theology more thoroughly to compare and con­trast It more helpfully with Ellen White's, and to place Melvlll more firmly within the context of his own church's development. Finally, Melvlll will take his place along with other authors Ellen White used as we attempt to define the genre of Christian literature on which she most commonly drew.


Jeff Crocombe said...

I couldn't get the link to work- no download in either Firefox 3 or an IE tab.

Andrew said...

I got the download to work in IE. I scanned the document, and it is very interesting indeed.

Anonymous said...

Please fix the link. Thanks.

Ron Corson said...

I have reactivated the link