Eddy, Mary Baker

views updated May 14 2018


EDDY, MARY BAKER (18211910), the American discoverer of Christian Science, founded the Church of Christ, Scientist, "to commemorate the word and works" of Christ Jesus and "to reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing" (Eddy, 1895, p. 17). The subject of vehement attack by the popular press and male theologians of her day, and of staunch defense by proponents of her teaching, Eddy remains a controversial figure.

Prayer, biblical readings, and religious discussion were prominent features of her rural New England upbringing, and Baptist, Methodist, and Congregational clergy frequented the family home. As a child, Eddy rebelled against the stern Calvinism of her father's religion, preferring the more loving deity of her mother's teaching. Despite her reservations about the doctrine of predestination, Eddy joined the Congregational Church and remained a member until she founded her own religious organization.

In the late twentieth century, feminist scholars turned to Eddy's life and leadership, hoping to find in her a model of empowerment for women. Eddy was not, however, primarily interested in political freedom but in a liberation theology that freed people from the "bondage of sickness and sin" (Eddy, 1875, p. 368).

Critics sought to dismiss Eddy by accusing her of being a hysterical female in the stereotypical nineteenth-century mode. This accusation failed to take into account an ancient precedent that may be more relevant in Eddy's case. In the second and third centuries ce Christian women were accused of hysteria by an emerging male religious hierarchy as a means of marginalizing women's religious authority. The accusation is particularly notable in patriarchal dismissal of female theologians who, like Eddy, functioned without deference to male authority. This precedent provides a historical antecedent, and not just a cultural one, for the opposition Eddy's teachings attracted.

Early Life

Eddy was born in Bow, New Hampshire, the youngest of the six children of Mark Baker and Abigail Ambrose Baker. Her formal education was sporadic, and she was often kept home from school due to illness. In her autobiography, Retrospection and Introspection, she wrote that her father was "taught to believe" her brain was too large for her body (Eddy, 1891, p. 10). Even though her schooling was uneven, she spent several terms at academies for young women.

Eddy was a keen learner and an avid reader, and throughout her life she kept scrapbooks of writings that had attracted her. In Science and Health she praised observation, invention, study, and original thought as "academics of the right sort" (Eddy, 1875, p. 195). Typically, what interested her were the ways thought was expanded through learning, rather than learning as mere acquisition of facts.

Marriage and Motherhood

Eddy's first marriage, in 1843, was to George Washington Glover. He died of yellow fever the following year, however. The pregnant widow returned to New England from her home in South Carolina, and eventually her young son was put in the care of a family retainer. Eddy was not reunited with him until he was grown and a parent himself.

In 1853, in the hope of providing a home for her son, Eddy married Daniel Patterson. He, however, was unwilling to have the boy. An itinerant dentist, Patterson was frequently absent from home, and in 1866 he abandoned his wife permanently. It was not until 1873 that Eddy applied for and was granted a divorce.

During these years Eddy suffered various illnesses that often kept her bedridden. She sought relief through a variety of alternative medical methods, including allopathy, homeopathy, and hydropathy. In 1862 she traveled to the Portland, Maine, clinic of Dr. Phineas P. Quimby, a magnetic healer. The extent of Quimby's influence on Eddy's thought is one of the more controversial aspects of her life.

After Eddy had become well known, Quimby's son and several of the doctor's associates claimed she had misrepresented Quimby's teaching as her own. Eddy acknowledged she had edited Quimby's notes but denied that he was her source for Christian Science. In fact, Quimby's techniques were based on mesmerism, while Eddy's practice was firmly rooted in the Christianity that had always been her strength.

Eddy's faith was tested after Quimby's death when in 1866 she suffered internal injuries following a fall on an icy path. Eddy later recalled that she turned to her Bible and read an account of one of Jesus' healings recorded in the Gospels. Subsequently she spoke of her instant recovery as a transformative experience in which she glimpsed "Life in and of Spirit" (Eddy, 1896, p. 24). The fall on the ice has assumed mythic importance in the history of Christian Science. Although the homeopathic physician who was called to Eddy's bedside later claimed it was his treatment that healed her, Eddy insisted it was her glimpse of a spiritual reality that effected the physical healing. The discovery of Christian Science is dated from this event.

Eddy's third marriage was to Asa Gilbert Eddy in 1877. Their brief union ended with his death in 1882. Gilbert Eddy was one of his wife's early followers and the first to publicly advertise as a Christian Science healer.

Christian Science

Prior to her fall, Eddy's life had been fairly conventional. In nineteenth-century America, men held legal, financial, and decision-making power over women's lives. Women, especially genteel women, were daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, widowsand Eddy was all of these. Even in religion women were denied a public voice in worship and were expected to assent to the beliefs of their male relatives. In preaching a theology that promoted biblical authority over clerical teaching, and in founding a church, Eddy threatened established patriarchal positions and subsequently suffered legal, verbal, and even physical consequences.

Following her recovery, Eddy committed herself to a deep study of the Bible, spending the next several years seeking the spiritual significance of biblical accounts of healing. She searched for the "primitive Christianity" of Jesus and the early Christians in the period before the institutional church darkened its hue (Eddy, 1875, p. 139). This was her concept of evangelical religion. She wrote extensive exegetical notes, particularly reflecting on the books of Genesis and Revelation. Revisions of these books, and the addition of a glossary containing her interpretation of the spiritual meaning of selected terms mainly drawn from these two books, later formed the basis of her class teaching and the "Key to the Scriptures" section of the Christian Science textbook. As her radical ideas developed and she began to broadcast them, she found herself at odds with family and friends.

Over the next few years Eddy moved from boardinghouse to boardinghouse. She had little in the way of financial resources and made her living through modest literary contributions and eventually by taking students, to whom she began to teach her theology of healing. Her teaching was reinforced by her own healing practice. During this period she began writing her major work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the first edition of which was published in 1875. The book went through eight major revisions and over two hundred lesser versions before Eddy's death.

Initially Eddy hoped her ideas would be adopted by existing churches. When this did not happen, she organized her own church in 1879, only to abandon its charter in 1889. In 1892 she reorganized the church and named it the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts. Although Eddy herself preached both from the pulpit and in public halls, she decreed in 1895 that there would be no ordained clergy in her church. Instead she "ordained" the Bible and Science and Health as its pastor. Worship services consisted of readings from the Bible and "correlative passages" from her book. The readers, one man and one woman, were elected for a stipulated term from the lay membership.

In addition to Sunday and midweek worship, Eddy provided for lecturers who visited communities by invitation. Both women and men could be called to this position. She developed a highly centralized government for her church, delegating daily oversight to a board of directors. Both men and women were eligible to serve in this capacity, although female directors remained in the minority. Eddy also set up a structure for theological education, the teachers of which could be either men or women. Most notable, however, was the prominence of females in the public practice of what Eddy called Christian healing.

During the remainder of her life Eddy faced repeated internal dissension from followers wishing to supplement or supplant her teaching with their own. Most of these left Christian Science, and several of the women eventually became religious leaders in their own right, particularly in the New Thought movement. Eddy was convinced that the glimpse of spiritual reality she had experienced in 1866 and its subsequent refinement was divinely inspired and, as such, could not be modified by anyone else. Neither the church government she formed nor the denominational textbook she wrote can be revised. Her final achievement was the founding of an international newspaper, the Christian Science Monitor, in 1908.

At a time when many women lived domestically centered lives, Eddy's talent for organization and for conducting business, skills nineteenth-century society usually associated with men, attracted hostility and opposition. Followers defected and opponents criticized the control she maintained. At the same time, others found healing through the teachings of Christian Science.

Theological Teachings

As a child Eddy was immersed in the thought and language of the Bible. Her mature writings are replete with biblical allusions and citations. Her reading of the Bible, though, was often unconventional, and both nineteenth- and twentieth-century commentators criticized her theology as abstruse, uninformed, even heterodox.

In her spiritual interpretation of the Lord's Prayer, first published in 1891, Eddy defined God as Father and Mother. In 1900 she changed the designation to Father-Mother. Eddy was not the first female theologian to identify God in this way. Julian of Norwich (1342after 1416) and the Shaker Mother Ann Lee (17361784) had described God as Mother, and there are biblical precedents as well. Hannah Whitall Smith, a contemporary of Eddy and a member of the Holiness movement in Philadelphia, also likened God to a Mother. However, there is no evidence that Eddy drew on any of these for her own interpretation.

From the third through the fifteenth editions of Science and Health, Eddy used the feminine pronoun for God in her chapter "Creation," reverting to the masculine pronoun in 1886. She also consistently employed nongendered terminology for God, referring to the deity as Life, Truth, Love, Spirit, Soul, Mind, and Principle.

Eddy's theological reflections in her chapter "Science, Theology, and Medicine" primarily relate to the nature of Christ and the character of Jesus. She wrote that Jesus was the highest human concept, inseparable from Christ, which she defined "as the divine idea of God outside the flesh" (Eddy, 1875, p. 482).

To a twenty-first-century reader, Eddy's use of man as a generic term sounds dated. However, she declared that masculine, feminine, and neuter genders are "human concepts," weakened by anthropomorphism (Eddy, 1875, p. 516). For Eddy, generic man was a nongendered spiritual idea, neither an "Eve or an Adam" (Eddy, 1887, p. 51). Feminist commentators operating out of a body-affirming late-twentieth-century and early-twenty-first-century imagination have been disappointed that Eddy's teaching does not relate to female bodies any more or less than to male bodies. Her rejection of corporeality as the real embodiment of woman and man is based on her teaching that the physical condition is a misapprehension. Eddy posits, on a biblical basis, that creation was originally and is ultimately spiritual. This spiritual image of body held in thought affects physical conditions in a redemptive manner that heals the human body.

A theologian, healer, teacher, author, and publisher, Eddy continued to function as leader of her church into her ninetieth year. In the twenty-first century Eddy has been recognized for her pioneering work in the field of spiritual healing.

See Also

Christian Science; Lee, Ann; New Thought Movement.


Eddy published Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (Boston, 1875; reprint, Boston, 2000), the textbook of Christian Science. Retrospection and Introspection (Boston, 1891), Eddy's autobiography, is more of a theological statement than an account of her life. It is included in a collection, Prose Works (Boston, 1925), as is Unity of Good (Boston, 1887). Miscellaneous Writings (Boston, 1896) reprints addresses, letters, sermons, poems and articles written between 1883 and 1896. Manual of the Mother Church (Boston, 1895) specifies the governing structure of the First Church of Christ, Scientist.

Mary Farrell Bednarowski, The Religious Imagination of American Women (Bloomington, Ind., 1999), includes a short section on Eddy that considers her and the religious movement she founded as the outcome of her emphasis on a practical reciprocity between theology and healing. Bednarowski identifies several areas where, she argues, contemporary women healers owe an often unacknowledged debt to Eddy's efforts. Yvonne Caché von Fettweis and Robert Townsend Warneck, Mary Baker Eddy: Christian Healer (Boston, 1998), is a collection of testimonials from individuals who benefited from Eddy's healing gifts. The accounts are interspersed with biographical details and comments about events in the history of the church, and the book includes brief notes about persons cited in the text.

Martin Gardner, The Healing Revelations of Mary Baker Eddy: The Rise and Fall of Christian Science (Buffalo, N.Y., 1993), written by a person who is not an admirer of Eddy, relies heavily on material that has been published previously by other critics. Gillian Gill, Mary Baker Eddy (Radcliffe Biography Series, Reading, Mass., 1998), is a massive, heavily notated biography. Gill offers detailed analysis of Eddy's childhood and family relationships and chronicles her public life. Gill had unprecedented access to church archives, and much original material was published for the first time in this volume. She also provides a useful annotated bibliography of both the favorable and the critical literature on Eddy. Stephen Gottschalk, The Emergence of Christian Science in American Religious Life (Berkeley, Calif., 1973), includes biographical data on Eddy but is primarily a social-intellectual history of Christian Science as a cultural phenomenon. Bliss Knapp, The Destiny of the Mother Church (Boston, 1991), originally copyrighted in 1947 but not published until over forty years later, is a biography that caused profound internal church controversy. Richard A. Nenneman, Persistent Pilgrim: The Life of Mary Baker Eddy (Etna, N.H., 1997), offers an overview of key events in Eddy's life with particular emphasis on critical moments during the establishment of the Christian Science movement. Nenneman cites previously unpublished material from church archives.

Robert Peel, Mary Baker Eddy, vol. 1, The Years of Discovery ; vol. 2, The Years of Trial ; vol. 3, The Years of Authority (New York, 19661977), a biography written by a Christian Scientist, is a contextualized and well-documented treatment of Eddy with particular emphasis on her evolving leadership. Ann Braude, "The Perils of Passivity: Women's Leadership in Spiritualism and Christian Science," in Women's Leadership in Marginal Religions, edited by Catherine Wessinger, pp. 5567 (Urbana, Ill., 1993), asks whether women are empowered in movements founded by women. Braude prioritizes organizational factors over theological ones when considering Eddy's relationships with potential rivals, either male or female.

Diane Treacy-Cole (2005)

Eddy, Mary Baker (1821-1910)

views updated May 14 2018

Eddy, Mary Baker (1821-1910)

Mary Baker Eddy is regarded as one of the most influential women in American history. In 1992 the Women's National Book Association recognized her Science and Health as one of the 75 books by women "whose words have changed the world." In 1995 she was elected into the National Women's Hall of Fame as the only American woman to have founded a religion recognized worldwide.

Eddy was born the sixth child of a Puritan family outside of Concord, New Hampshire on July 16, 1821. As a child she was extremely frail and suffered from persistent illnesses. In 1843, Eddy married her first husband, Major George Washington Glover, who died of yellow fever six months after their marriage, leaving her penniless and 5 months pregnant. Once born, her son was taken from her and given to a couple who had just lost twins. In 1853, Eddy married her second husband Daniel Patterson, a Baptist dentist. Since her health was persistently in decline, she began to investigate many "mind over matter" theories that were popular at the time. She even went so far as to consult a psychic healer in 1862.

Eddy's struggle with illness lasted until her epiphany experience on February 4, 1866. Eddy was bedridden after having sustained critical spine injuries from a fall on an icy sidewalk. She came across a story in the Bible about a palsied, bedridden man who is forgiven by Christ and made to walk. She then formed her theory that the power to heal sin is the same power that heals the body. Indeed, she believed and got out of bed. Patterson left her that year, and, seven years later, Eddy divorced him.

After her transforming spiritual realization, she preached her discovery of Christian Science. She had found the answer to her quest for health, and she wrote her first book on the subject, Science and Health with a Key to the Scriptures (1875). And, in 1877, Eddy was married for a final time to Asa Gilbert Eddy.

Christian Science is based on her beliefs that anything associated with the physical world is an illusion (including pain), and that mind, life, and spirit are all that exist and are all part of God. Healing for her meant recognizing the error of believing in the flesh. Eddy's philosophy, however, cannot be considered a mind over matter philosophy because, in Christian Science, the concept of matter does not exist.

Eddy's writings and beliefs quickly helped her become the leader of thousands of people in the Christian Science movement. By the year 1900, only 34 years after her revelation and only 25 from the publication of her first book, over 900 churches participated in the Christian Science movement. Eddy obtained a nearly god-like status in her churches by her death in 1910.

The Christian Science Church, from its "Mother Church" headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts, has been a major media influence. Science and Health, reissued in 1994, immediately became an annual best seller among religious books. Eddy also wrote 20 other books and pamphlets, including other theology books and a book of her poetry and letters. In 1883, Eddy published the first issue of The Christian Science Journal. In 1899 she established both the Christian Science Sentinel and Christian Science Quarterly. She had a strong influence as editor of these periodicals. And, finally, in 1908 she requested that a daily newspaper be started called the Christian Science Monitor. Both the Christian Science Journal and the Christian Science Monitor are still in print and continue to be very well respected.

In 1989, the Christian Science Monitor launched The Monitor Channel, a cable network that failed and collapsed in 1992. At the same time, the church also started a radio network and a public affairs magazine that both fell through. Although Christian Science has remained politically powerful throughout the second half of the twentieth century, estimated membership totals have shown a drop, from 270,000 members before World War II to 170,000 in the 1990s. Branch churches have declined from 3,000 in 37 countries to fewer than 2,400 in the 1990s.

A major criticism of Christian Science is that its members are often unwilling to seek medical help for themselves or their critically ill children. In the last half of the twentieth century, Christian Scientists have even succeeded in most states to establish the right to deny their children medical treatment. Part of the decline of the church population is due to an increasing trust of traditional medicine.

The followers of Christian Science revere Mary Baker Eddy. Outside of the religion she is heralded as having made major feminist accomplishments. In Science and Health, she pushed for the equality of the sexes, female suffrage, and the right of women to hold and dispose of property. She also pushed for an understanding of both the motherhood and the fatherhood of God. Eddy's ideas, although spawned and proliferated in her time, have outlived her.

—Adam Wathen

Further Reading:

Beasley, Norman. Mary Baker Eddy. New York, Duell, Sloan, and Pearce, 1963.

Cather, Willa, and Georgine Milmine. The Life of Mary Baker G. Eddy and the History of Christian Science. Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press, 1993.

Dakin, Edwin Franden. Mrs. Eddy: The Biography of a Virginal Mind. New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1930.

d'Humy, Fernand Emile. Mary Baker Eddy in a New Light. New York, Library Publishers, 1952.

Orcutt, William Dana. Mary Baker Eddy and Her Books. Boston, Christian Science Publishing Society, 1991.

Peel, Robert. Mary Baker Eddy. New York, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966.

Silberger, Julius, Jr. Mary Baker Eddy: An Interpretive Biography of the Founder of Christian Science. Boston, Little, Brown, 1980.

Thomas, Robert David. "With Bleeding Footsteps": Mary Baker Eddy's Path to Religious Leadership. New York, Knopf, 1994.

Wilbur, Sybil. The Life of Mary Baker Eddy. New York, Concord, 1908.

Zweig, Stefan. Mental Healers: Franz Anton Mesmer, Mary Baker Eddy, Sigmund Freud. New York, Viking Press, 1934.

Eddy, Mary Baker (1821-1910)

views updated May 11 2018

Eddy, Mary Baker (1821-1910)

Founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist, the organizational center of the Christian Science movement. She was born on July 16, 1821, in Bow, New Hampshire. She grew up a member of the Congregational Church. She married George W. Glover in 1843, but he died suddenly the next year, though not before one child was born. In 1853 she married Daniel Patters. For a while the health problems that had plagued her off and on for many years receded, but they eventually returned. While her husband was away during the Civil War she visited a water cure sanitorium. She then heard about mental healer Phineas Parkhurst Quimby and eventually went to visit him in Maine.

Learning and applying Quimby's ideas about the mind as the key to health, Eddy found some real relief from her health problems, but she also discovered that soon after leaving his presence her symptoms returned. Then in 1866 she slipped and fell on the ice and for three days was largely immobile. During this period she read the Bible, and the truth about healing, that "God is all," the only reality, came to her. As a result, she was healed immediately.

She spent a period developing her new insight and working with individuals. In 1870 she put her ideas in a booklet, The Science of Man, which she used while writing her textbook, Science and Health, which appeared in 1875. By 1876 she had trained enough students as practitioners to warrant organizing the Christian Science Association as a fellowship and professional organization. Three years later she founded the Church of Christ, Scientist, and in 1881 she organized the Massachusetts Metaphysical College in Boston. Her work blossomed, and The Journal of Christian Science was begun in 1883.

The 1880s were a time of expansion, but also of controversy. Eddy was especially upset with students who taught personal variations on her system or separated from her organization and continued to function as practitioners of either Christian Scientists or under other names. One of her most promising students, Emma Curtis Hopkins, left in 1884 and eventually became the founder of what has become known as New Thought. In 1889 Eddy dissolved most of the structures she had founded and in 1892 reorganized her followers under a new church structure headed by herself. The organization was anchored by the First Church of Christ Scientist, the mother church in Boston, of which Eddy was pastor. The mother church chartered local congregations whose leaders had to be members in good standing with the mother church.

In the 1890s a major controversy erupted involving a lawsuit charging that Eddy had simply plagiarized the work of Phineas Quimby. The suit was settled in her favor, but unfortunately Quimby's mostly unpublished papers were not available in court, and Annetta and Julius Dresser, both former Quimby students, and their son Horatio Dresser perpetuated the idea that Eddy would have lost had the material been available.

Eddy's church had spread to every section of United States and Canada by the time of her death on December 3, 1910. She left behind a church manual, published in 1908, to guide the administration of the organization, which is now headed by a self-perpetuating board of directors.


Beasley, Norman. The Cross and the Crown. Boston: Little, Brown, 1952.

Eddy, Mary Baker. Church Manual of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Mass. Boston: Trustees Under the Will of Mary Baker Eddy, 1908.

. Poetical Works. Boston: Trustees Under the Will of Mary Baker Eddy, 1936.

. Prose Works. Boston: Trustees Under the Will of Mary Baker Eddy, 1925.

. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Boston: Trustees Under the Will of Mary Baker Eddy, 1906.

Peel, Robert. Mary Baker Eddy. 3 vols. New York: Holt Rinehart and Winston, 1971.

Mary Baker Eddy

views updated Jun 11 2018

Mary Baker Eddy

The American founder of the Christian Science Church, Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) showed a unique understanding of the relationship between religion and health, which resulted in one of the era's most influential religious books, "Science and Health."

Mary Baker was born July 16, 1821, at Bow, N.H. A delicate and nervous temperament led to long periods of sickness in her early years, and chronic ill health made her weak and infirm during much of her adult life. In 1843 she married George Washington Glover, but he soon died and she returned home, where she had her only child. She married Daniel Patterson, a traveling dentist, in 1853; however, his frequent trips and her invalidism led to a separation by 1866 and a divorce several years later. In 1877 she married Asa Gilbert Eddy.

In her quest for health, she had visited Dr. Phineas P. Quimby of Portland, Maine, in 1862, and found that his nonmedical principles cured her. She absorbed his system and became a disciple. In 1866 she claimed to have been completely cured of injuries suffered in a fall by what she called "Christian science." By 1870 she was teaching her new-found science in collaboration with practitioners who did the healing. Her key ideas were published in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (1875).

This book and Mary Baker Eddy's forceful personality attracted numerous followers, and on Aug. 23, 1879, the Church of Christ, Scientist, was chartered. Asa Eddy helped organize the movement. Mrs. Eddy chartered the Massachusetts Metaphysical College in 1881, where she taught her beliefs. Asa Eddy died in 1882, and the next year Mrs. Eddy began to publish the Journal of Christian Science.

Her fame spread, support grew, and Mrs. Eddy became wealthy. But dissensions divided the Church, and in 1889 "Mother Eddy" moved to Concord, N.H., apparently withdrawing from leadership. In seclusion, however, she restructured the Church organization: the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston was established on Sept. 23, 1892, as the mother church. Mrs. Eddy was its head, and all other churches were subject to its jurisdiction. Though internal quarrels diminished, they continued to the end of her life. Partly to guarantee a trustworthy newspaper for the movement, Mrs. Eddy began publishing the Christian Science Monitor in 1908. That year she moved to Chestnut Hill near Boston, where she died on Dec. 3, 1910.

Further Reading

Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (1875 and later editions) is the most important of Mrs. Eddy's writings. Sibyl Wilbur, The Life of Mary Baker Eddy (1908), is the laudatory official biography. A friendly but more scholarly study is Robert Peel, Mary Baker Eddy (2 vols., 1966-1971). Critical accounts are Edwin F. Dakin, Mrs. Eddy: The Biography of a Virginal Mind (1929), and Ernest S. Bates and John V. Dittemore, Mary Baker Eddy: The Truth and the Tradition (1932). □

Eddy, Mary Baker

views updated May 23 2018


Founder of the christian science church; b. Bow, N.H., July 16, 1821; d. Chestnut Hill, Mass., Dec. 3,1910. After a childhood marked by poor health, she married George Washington Glover in 1843. His death and the birth of her son, in 1844, aggravated her nervous disorder. She married Dr. Daniel Patterson, an itinerant dentist, in 1853, but she received a divorce in 1873 on the grounds of desertion. She was wed for a third time, in 1877, to Asa Gilbert Eddy, a sewing machine salesman who died in 1882.

Mrs. Eddy dated her discovery of the principles of Christian Science from 1866 when she recovered from a fall in Lynn, Mass. She began to teach classes in spiritual healing, borrowing freely from the writings of Dr. Phineas P. Quimby, a healer and mesmerist. Her Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the textbook of the Christian Science Church, was published in 1875, and the first Christian Science Church was organized in Boston, Mass., in 1879. In 1880 she established the short-lived Massachusetts Metaphysical College to propagate her theories of healing. The official church publication, the Christian Science Journal, was founded in 1883, and a

daily newspaper, the Christian Science Monitor, was begun in 1908. At the time of her death, the church had enrolled about 100,000 members. Its doctrines denied the reality of sin, sickness, and death and advanced a pantheistic conception of God.

Bibliography: e. f. dakin, Mrs. Eddy: The Biography of a Virginal Mind (New York 1930). l. p. powell, Mary Baker Eddy (Boston 1950). a. johnson, Dictionary of American Biography 6:715.

[w. j. whalen]

Eddy, Mary Baker

views updated May 11 2018

Eddy, Mary Baker (1821–1910). Founder of the Christian Science Movement. In 1875, she published Science and Health …, and in 1879, she founded the Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston. The movement eventually (1891) became the First Church of Christ, Scientist. She started the publication of The Christian Science Monitor in 1908.

Eddy, Mary Baker

views updated Jun 08 2018

Eddy, Mary Baker (1821–1910) US founder of Christian Science (1879). She claimed to have rediscovered the secret of primitive Christian healing after an instantaneous recovery from serious injury. She expounded her system in Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures (1875).

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