Ellen G. White Writings

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Ellen White: Woman of Vision, Page 354

Chapter 23—Writing “The Desire Of Ages”

In 1858 as Ellen White first wrote the account of what had been revealed to her in the great controversy visions of 1848 and 1858, she devoted 52 small pages to the life of Christ. Sixteen of these gave a very brief review of His ministry, and 36 were devoted to the few days of the last scenes of His life. These pages were expanded in volumes 2 and 3 of the Spirit of Prophecy series in 1877 and 1878; 387 larger pages were given to His general ministry and 254 pages to the Passion Week and His closing ministry. With Patriarchs and Prophets and The Great Controversy in the field, it was planned that the work, in its preparation called “The Life of Christ,” would represent a further amplification, particularly of the account of the three years and more of the life and ministry of our Lord up to the Passion Week.

To this project, Ellen White and Marian Davis turned their attention in Australia. Bible study, visions, prayer, meditation, discussion with her literary assistant, even “hard thinking,” all under the general superintendence of the Holy Spirit, were involved in the writing.

As the two women worked together with dedicated purpose, they had at hand for reference several standard works by other authors, such as William Hanna's Life of Our Lord, and Cunningham Geikie's Life and Words of Christ. Ellen White was acquainted with Daniel March's Walks and Homes of Jesus and his Night Scenes in the Bible. Geikie's Hours With the Bible and Edersheim's works on the Temple and its services and Jewish social life were known to her as well as some others. These books constituted an aid to her in her descriptions of places, customs, and historical events. It was a prevailing practice for one commentator to borrow the wording of another, considering truth common property. It could well be that some of the books to which Ellen White had easy access may have contained materials traceable to a number of authors. Ingram Cobbin in his preface to his Condensed Commentary and Family Exposition of the Holy Bible, page iv, declared: “All the commentators have drawn largely from the fathers, especially from St. Augustine,” and then points out the borrowings of one from another, naming authors so involved.

Ellen White greatly appreciated the work of her helpers. Of Marian Davis she wrote:

I feel very thankful for the help of Sister Marian Davis in getting out

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