We have been told that Mrs. White saw Biblical scenes in vision and she later wrote out those scenes in her books. If that is true, then why are there inaccuracies and historical mistakes in her writings?
In 1858 Mrs. White writes about Herod as if the same Herod who took part in Christ's trial also killed James:
"Herod's heart had grown still harder; and when he heard that Christ had risen, he was not much troubled. He took the life of James, and when he saw that this pleased the Jews, he took Peter also, intending to put him to death." (Early Writings, p. 185)The historical facts are that Herod Antipas was the Herod who took part in the trial of Christ. Herod Antipas was banished to Lyons in France, by Caligula in AD 41. After his banishment, the provinces which he governed were given to Herod Agrippa. He was the Herod who put James to death, cast Peter in prison, and was smitten of God, and expired (Acts. 7) in AD 44. Mrs. White was wrong in saying the same Herod who killed John the Baptist and witnessed the trial of Jesus was the Herod who killed James. This mistake was corrected when her book was republished in 1878:
"He [Herod] seized upon James and cast him into prison, and there sent an executioner to kill him with a sword, as another Herod had caused the prophet John to be beheaded. He then became bolder, seeing that the Jews were pleased with his acts, and imprisoned Peter." (Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3, p. 334)This little mistake would probably be overlooked as of little importance if not for the fact that Mrs. White claimed to have seen all of these events in vision. It becomes apparent that when Mrs. White "saw" these events, she did not "see" them in vision; rather, she "saw" them written on the pages of the books she was plagiarizing.
In the 1970's, SDA scholar Dr. Don McAdams did his doctoral work on the book Great Controversy. He notes:
"Ellen White was not just borrowing paragraphs here and there that she ran across in her reading, but in fact following the historians page after page, leaving out much material, but using their sequence, some of their ideas, and often their words. In the examples I have examined I have found no historical fact in her text that is not in their text. The hand-written manuscript on John Huss follows the historian so closely that it does not even seem to have gone through an intermediary stage, but rather from the historian's printed page to Mrs. White's manuscript, including historical errors and moral exhortations." (Donald McAdams, "Shifting View of Inspiration", Spectrum, vol. 10, No. 4, March. 1980.)
In Desire of Ages Mrs. White writes:
"But now in His own familiar voice Jesus said to her, 'Mary.' Now she knew that it was not a stranger who was addressing her, and turning she saw before her the living Christ. In her joy she forgot that He had been crucified. Springing toward Him, as if to embrace His feet, she said, 'Rabboni.' But Christ raised His hand, saying, Detain Me not; 'for I am not yet ascended to My Father: but go to My brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God.' And Mary went her way to the disciples with the joyful message." (p. 790)In this quote Mrs. White is telling us that Mary never touched Jesus. She moved toward Christ as if to embrace Him, but Jesus halted her with uplifted hand. While this is consistent with events as described in the KJV of John 20:17, it contradicts the original Greek. The Greek literally says "stop clinging to me" (NIV Scofiled Study Bible, p. 1125. "to fasten one's self to, adhere to, cling to" Strong's). Modern versions give a more accurate rendering of the Greek:
New American Standard Bible: "Jesus said to her, 'Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father...'"This example shows that when Mrs. White was writing her books, she was not writing out events that she saw in vision. On the contrary, she developed her stories based upon her readings of the KJV Bible and other Christian books, and not from visions of God.
New King James Version: "Jesus said to her, 'Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father...'"
New Living Translation: "'Don't cling to me,' Jesus said, 'for I haven't yet ascended to the Father..."
New International Version: "Jesus said, 'Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father...'"
English Standard Version: "Jesus said to her, 'Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father...'"
For further research: Historical Errors in the Great Controversy.