Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures Summary

Mary Morse Baker


(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

During her bouts with chronic illness in the 1850’s and 1860’s, Mary Baker Eddy became interested in the accounts of healing performed by Jesus Christ that are recorded in the Bible. Through prayer and careful study, she became convinced that the true source of healing is a spiritual gift that comes from God. She referred to the spiritual way in which Christ healed as Christian Science. In 1875, she published Science and Health as the textbook for Christian Science. Her main goal in writing the book was not to present a new form of theology but to provide a guidebook for religious practice. The phrase “with key to the Scriptures” was added to the title in 1883. Eddy believed that her book provided the key for others to better understand the teachings in the Bible.

Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures is composed of three sections. The largest section is devoted to the main topics that are at the center of the Christian Science religion founded by Eddy in 1879. These include prayer, the Atonement, love, spiritual development, and healing based on spiritual laws. The second section focuses on Scriptures from the Bible and an examination of portions of the books of Genesis and Revelations. The second section also contains a glossary of 125 common terms used in the Bible, defined by Eddy in terms of her metaphysical, spiritual interpretations. The last section of the book, added by Eddy in 1902, contains the testimonials of numerous individuals who claim to have been healed or relieved of severe illnesses and adversities by application of the healing principles explained by Eddy in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.

In her book, Eddy proclaims that the life and works of Jesus Christ, from his working of miracles, particularly healing, to his resurrection, to his final ascension above all materialism, represent conclusive evidence for the spiritual nature of human beings. She views his life as...

(The entire section is 804 words.)


(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Sources for Further Study

Gardner, Martin. The Healing Revelations of Mary Baker Eddy: The Rise and Fall of Christian Science. Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1993. Gardner analyzes the ideas and concepts promoted by Eddy in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, how they led to the establishment and growth of the Christian Science religion, and the factors that caused the decline of that religion.

Gottschalk, Stephen. Rolling Away the Stone: Mary Baker Eddy’s Challenge to Materialism. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006. Contains an account of the founding of the Christian Science religion centered around the theme of spiritual healing that was promoted by Mary Baker Eddy.

Piepmeier, Alison. Out in Public: Configurations of Women’s Bodies in Nineteenth-Century America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004. In discussing the lives of a few exemplary women, Piepmeier extols the life of Mary Baker Eddy as an example of faith, hope, and courage in speaking out in a predominantly man’s world about key issues associated with medicine and healing.

Schoepflin, Rennie B. Christian Science on Trial: Religious Healing in America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003. By examining the messages presented by Eddy in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Schoepflin highlights the contributions of Eddy as a teacher, healer, and religious leader.

Thomas, Robert David. With Bleeding Footsteps: Mary Baker Eddy’s Path to Religious Leadership. New York: Knopf, 1994. This work explores the life of Mary Baker Eddy, her philosophy about healing as promoted by the Scriptures, her rise to religious leadership, and the themes contained in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.