This page examines some of the fictional and questionable sources that Mrs. White used in writing her books.
The term "apocrypha" is derived from the Greek word meaning "hidden" or "secret". These books are considered by scholars to be of doubtful authorship or authenticity. They were not accepted into the Jewish canon formed late in the 2nd century AD. The Reformers did not consider these books on a par with the rest of the Scriptures; thus the custom arose of making the Apocrypha a separate section in the Protestant Bible, or sometimes even of omitting them entirely. In 1827, Protestant Bible societies took a definite stand against it. The Catholic view, expressed as a doctrine of faith at the Council of Trent, is that the Apocrypha is canonical Scripture.
In their early career, Ellen and James White held the Apocrypha in high regard. In 1847, James quoted from it in his publication "A Word to the Little Flock", and Ellen made the following comments from a vision she had several years later:
I saw that the Apocrypha was the hidden book, and that the wise of these last days should understand it. (Manuscript 4, 1850)
|Early Writings||2nd Esdras|
|Before entering the city, the saints were arranged in a perfect square, with Jesus in the midst. He stood head and shoulders above the saints and above the angels. ... As Jesus called for the crowns, angels presented them to Him, and with His own right hand, the lovely Jesus placed the crowns on the heads of the saints. (p. 287-288)||I, Ezra, saw on Mount Zion a great multitude, which I could not number, and they all were praising the Lord with songs. In their midst was a young man of great stature, taller than any of the others, and on the head of each of them he placed a crown, but he was more exalted than they. And I was held spellbound. 2:42,43 (RAPC)|
|I saw that if the saints had food laid up by them or in the field in the time of trouble, when sword, famine, and pestilence are in the land, it would be taken from them by violent hands and strangers would reap their fields. ... Houses and lands will be of no use to the saints in the time of trouble, for they will then have to flee before infuriated mobs, and at that time their possessions cannot be disposed of to advance the cause of present truth. (p. 56)||They will be like madmen, sparing no one, in plundering and pillaging those who still fear the Lord. For they will pillage and plunder their property, and drive them out of their houses. 16:71,72|
|Mount Zion was just before us, and on the mount was a glorious temple, and about it were seven other mountains, on which grew roses and lilies. And I saw the little ones climb, or, if they chose, use their little wings and fly, to the top of the mountains and pluck the never-fading flowers. (p. 18)||I will send you help, my servants Isaiah and Jeremiah. According to their counsel I have consecrated and prepared for you twelve trees loaded with various fruits, and the same number of springs flowing with milk and honey, and seven mighty mountains on which roses and lilies grow; by these I will fill your children with joy. 2:18,19|
|Ellen White||2nd Maccabees|
Among the righteous still in Jerusalem, to whom had been made plain the divine purpose, were some who determined to place beyond the reach of ruthless hands the sacred ark containing the tables of stone on which had been traced the precepts of the Decalogue. This they did. With mourning and sadness they secreted the ark in a cave, where it was to be hidden from the people of Israel and Judah because of their sins, and was to be no more restored to them. That sacred ark is yet hidden. It has never been disturbed since it was secreted.
(Prophets and Kings, p. 453)
Then there appears against the sky a hand holding two tables of stone folded together. Says the prophet, "The heavens shall declare His righteousness; for God is judge himself." [PS. 50:6.] That holy law, God's righteousness, that amid thunder and flame was proclaimed from Sinai as the guide of life, is now revealed to men as the rule of judgment. The hand opens the tables, and there are seen the precepts of the decalogue, traced as with a pen of fire. The words are so plain that all can read them.
|It was also contained in the same writing, that the prophet, being warned of God, commanded the tabernacle and the ark to go with him, as he went forth into the mountain [Nebo] Moses climbed up, and saw the heritage of God. And when Jeremy came thither, he found an hollow cave, wherein he laid the tabernacle, and the ark, and the altar of incense, and so stopped the door. And some of those that followed him came to mark the way, but they could not find it. Which when Jeremy perceived, he blamed them, saying, As for that place, it shall be unknown until the time that God gather his people again together, and receive them unto mercy. Then shall the Lord shew them these things, and the glory of the Lord shall appear, and the cloud also, as it was shewed unto Moses . . . 2 Macc. 4:8|
The Book of Jasher
Jewish scholars printed the book in Hebrew in Venice in 1625. It was published in English in New York in 1840. Nearly all scholars agree that the Book of Jasher was most likely written in Spain about the twelfth century A.D.1 Goodspeed and other scholars believe the book was composed by an author compiling many old Jewish traditions (called Midrash) dating back to around the time of Christ and fabricating a few of his own.
Some of the writings of Ellen White's kindred prophet, Joseph Smith, appear to have also been taken from the Book of Jasher. The Mormon prophet quoted from it as a source which had "not been disproved as a bad author." (Times and Seasons, 1 Sep 1842, 3:902).
The Book of Jasher contains many questionable stories, such as "snow" falling before the flood (3:38), and a wolf talking to Jacob (43:40-46). It also contradicts the Bible in a number of places. For example, it lists 15 plagues that fell on Egypt instead of the 10 Biblical plagues. It has other bizarre passages, including Rachel talking to Joseph from the grave (42:30-41), and a description of Zepho killing a being that was half man and half beast (61:15).
|Patriarchs and Prophets||Book of Jasher|
|After remaining for a time among the people, laboring to benefit them by instruction and example, he [Enoch] would withdraw, to spend a season in solitude, hungering and thirsting for that divine knowledge which God alone can impart. Communing thus with God, Enoch came more and more to reflect the divine image. His face was radiant with a holy light, even the light that shineth in the face of Jesus. As he came forth from these divine communings, even the ungodly beheld with awe the impress of heaven upon his countenance. (p. 86)||3:20. And he [Enoch] did in this manner for many years, and he afterward concealed himself for six days, and appeared to his people one day in seven; and after that once in a month, and then once in a year, until all the kings, princes and sons of men sought for him, and desired again to see the face of Enoch, and to hear his word; but they could not, as all the sons of men were greatly afraid of Enoch, and they feared to approach him on account of the Godlike awe that was seated upon his countenance; therefore no man could look at him, fearing he might be punished and die.|
|If one chose to take the wives, or cattle, or anything belonging to his neighbor, he did not regard justice or right, but if he could prevail over his neighbor by reason of strength, or by putting him to death, he did so, and exulted in his deeds of violence. They loved to destroy the lives of animals. ... But if there was one sin above another which called for the destruction of the race by the flood, it was the base crime of amalgamation of man and beast which defaced the image of God, and caused confusion everywhere. (Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 64)||4:18. And their judges and rulers went to the daughters of men and took their wives by force from their husbands according to their choice, and the sons of men in those days took from the cattle of the earth, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and taught the mixture of animals of one species with the other...|
Amid the prevailing corruption, Methuselah, Noah, and many others labored to keep alive the knowledge of the true God and to stay the tide of moral evil. (p. 94)
They were unwilling to renounce their sins. (p. 95)
Had the antediluvians believed the warning, and repented of their evil deeds, the Lord would have turned aside His wrath, as He afterward did from Nineveh. (p. 97)
5:9. And Noah and Methuselah spoke all the words of the Lord to the sons of men,
day after day, constantly speaking to them.
5:10. But the sons of men would not hearken to them, nor incline their ears to their words, and they were stiffnecked.
5:11. And the Lord granted them a period of one hundred and twenty years, saying, If they will return, then will God repent of the evil, so as not to destroy the earth.
|But upon the eighth day dark clouds overspread the heavens. There followed the muttering of thunder and the flash of lightning. Soon large drops of rain began to fall. The world had never witnessed anything like this, and the hearts of men were struck with fear. (pp 99)||6:11. And on that day, the Lord caused the whole earth to shake, and the sun darkened, and the foundations of the world raged, and the whole earth was moved violently, and the lightning flashed, and the thunder roared, and all the fountains in the earth were broken up, such as was not known to the inhabitants before; and God did this mighty act, in order to terrify the sons of men, that there might be no more evil upon earth.|
|Others were frantic with fear, stretching their hands toward the ark and pleading for admittance. But their entreaties were in vain. Conscience was at last aroused to know that there is a God who ruleth in the heavens. They called upon Him earnestly, but His ear was not open to their cry.(pp 100)||
6:18. And they called to Noah saying open for us that we may come to thee in the
ark-and wherefore shall we die?
6:23. [Noah replied:] "But now you come and tell me this on account of the troubles of your souls, now also the Lord will not listen to you, neither will he give ear to you on this day, so that you will not now succeed in your wishes."
|The massive ark trembled in every fiber as it was beaten by the merciless winds and flung from billow to billow. The cries of the beasts within expressed their fear and pain. But amid the warring elements it continued to ride safely. (p. 100)||
28. And the ark floated upon the face of the waters, and it was tossed upon the
waters so that all the living creatures within were turned
about like pottage in a cauldron.
29. And great anxiety seized all the living creatures that were in the ark, and the ark was like to be broken.
30. And the living creatures that were in the ark were terrified, and the lions roared, and the oxen lowed, and the wolves howled, and every living creature in the ark spoke and lamented in its own language, so that their voices reached to a great distance...
Paradise Lost was first published by John Milton in 1667. This poetic novel is about Adam and Eve--how they came to be created and how they came to lose their place in the Garden of Eden [Paradise]. It is the Genesis story expanded by Milton into a very long, detailed, narrative poem. It also includes the story of the origin of Satan. Originally, he was called Lucifer, an angel in heaven who led his followers in a war against God, and was ultimately sent with them to hell. Thirst for revenge led him to cause man's downfall by turning into a serpent and tempting Eve to eat the forbidden fruit.
|Patriarchs and Prophets||Paradise Lost|
|The serpent was then one of the wisest and most beautiful creatures on the earth. It had wings, and while flying through the air presented an appearance of dazzling brightness, having the color and brilliancy of burnished gold. Resting in the rich-laden branches of the forbidden tree and regaling itself with the delicious fruit, it was an object to arrest the attention and delight the eye of the beholder. (p. 53)||With burnisht Neck of verdant Gold, erect Amidst his circling Spires, that on the grass Floted redundant: pleasing was his shape, And lovely, never since of Serpent kind. (Book 8)|
|An expression of sadness came over the face of Adam. He appeared astonished and alarmed. (p. 56)||On th' other side, ADAM, soon as he heard The fatal Trespass don by EVE, amaz'd, Astonied stood and Blank, while horror chill Ran through his veins, and all his joynts relax'd; (Book 8)|
1. See Modern Apocrypha, Famous "Biblical" Hoaxes, by Edgar J. Goodspeed, The Beacon Press, Boston, 1956, Library of Congress catalog card # 56-10075)