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In Prophetess of Health, respected historian of science Ronald Numbers examines one of the most influential, yet least examined, religious leaders in American history—Ellen G. White, the enigmatic visionary who founded the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Numbers analyzes White’s life (1827–1915), from her teenage visions and testimonies to her extensive advice on health reform, which influenced the direction of the church she founded. This third edition features a new preface and two key documents that shed further light on White.
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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.
Ronald L. Numbers has written an excellent case study in the affinity between unorthodox religion and heterodox medicine.
—American History Review
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.
Prophetess of Health treats with considerable documentation the health writings of the Adventist leader.
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.
—The Christian Century
Ronald L. Numbers is Hilldale and William Coleman Professor of the History of Science and Medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His other works include The Creationists and Science and Christianity in Pulpit and Pew.