Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures

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Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures
First edition of Science and Health (1875)
AuthorMary Baker Glover (Eddy)
PublisherChristian Science Publishing Co.
Publication date
1875 (first edition)
Media typePrint
TextScience and Health with Key to the Scriptures at Wikisource

Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy is, along with the Bible, one of the two central texts of the Christian Science religion. Eddy described it as her "most important work".[1] She began writing it in February 1872,[2] and the first edition was published in 1875. However, she would continue working on it and making changes for the rest of her life.[3]

The book was selected as one of the "75 Books By Women Whose Words Have Changed The World", by the Women's National Book Association.[4]

As of 2001, the book had sold over nine million copies.[5]

Basic beliefs[edit]

Christian Science develops its theology and its healing method from these statements contained in Science and Health:

  • "God is All-in all."
  • "God is good."[6]
  • "God is Mind, and God is infinite; hence all is Mind."[7]


The last edition of the book consists of a short preface, the main section, a "Key to the Scriptures" section, and a Fruitage section. Some editions include a word index.

Main section[edit]

The scientific statement of being

There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal. Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual.

Mary Baker Eddy, [8]

The main section is 500 pages long and comprises chapters titled as follows:

  • Prayer
  • Atonement and Eucharist
  • Marriage
  • Christian Science versus Spiritualism
  • Animal Magnetism Unmasked
  • Science, Theology, Medicine
  • Physiology
  • Footsteps of Truth
  • Creation
  • Science of Being
  • Some Objections Answered
  • Christian Science Practice (which explains how healing is undertaken)
  • Teaching Christian Science
  • Recapitulation (the text used for class instruction in Christian Science healing).

Key to the Scriptures[edit]

This section is 100 pages long, and comprises:


This section is 100 pages long and consists of 84 testimonies of the healing power derived from reading Science and Health. There are descriptions of healings of addiction, asthma, broken bones, cataracts, cancer, deafness, eczema, fibroid tumor, and rheumatism. Prior intervention by physicians is mentioned in 50 of these cases, and one[9] relates a confirmatory X-ray image by a physician.


The first edition was copyrighted by Eddy in 1875, in part to help separate her work from the "sea of metaphysical writing" circulating at the time.[10] The copyright for Science and Health went through several renewals including a posthumous renewal in 1934 by the Christian Science Board of Directors.[citation needed] In December 1971, Congress passed a law extending the copyright on Science and Health by 75 years to the Christian Science Board of Directors.[11][12] There was some opposition to the bill, as it would prevent dissident groups from publishing their own edited versions of the book.[13][3]

In 1985 however, following a legal suit brought by United Christian Scientists, a group which wanted to publish their own version of the book, the copyright extension was found unconstitutional by Federal District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson.[3] In 1987 the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld the ruling of the district court.[14][15] As a result, Science and Health has been in the public domain since 1987.[citation needed]


The Bible (left) and Science and Health (right)

The first edition was published in 1875 by Eddy, who was then in her mid-fifties and known as Mary Baker Glover.[16] It was printed by W.F. Brown & Co. Their invoice for 1,000 copies, dated October 30, 1875, was made out to George M. Barry and Edward Hitchins for US$2,285.35. The edition consisted of 456 pages, plus 2 pages of errata. However, there were hundreds of typographic errors, some because the printer, not understanding the author's meaning, had tried to correct the wording without consulting her. The second edition, printed by Rand, Avery & Co, appeared in 1878, with 167 pages of new material. It was called Science and Health Volume 2 to indicate that it was a supplement to the first edition, but it, too, was full of typographic errors. Finally, the third edition printed by John Wilson at the University Press in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was of a high standard. Twelve further two-volume editions followed, before the 16th edition appeared as a single volume in 1886. This edition of the book had 552 pages, plus an index of 38 pages, and "with Key to the Scriptures" had been added to the title. Eddy remained loyal to the University Press for the rest of her life, and in 1897 even made a substantial investment to save it from bankruptcy.[2]

Eddy closed her Massachusetts Metaphysical College and left Boston in 1889, in order to revise the text for the 50th edition (1891). This edition consisted of 578 pages plus a 73-page index, and for the first time included marginal headings. The 226th "thousand" edition appeared in 1902, and included the chapter "Fruitage," making up the page count of 700 pages which remains to this day. The last numbered edition was the 418th, which appeared in 1906, but further changes were made until 1910.[2] According to the Mary Baker Eddy Library, major editions include those printed in 1875, 1878, 1881, 1883, 1886, 1891, 1902, and 1907.[17]

Many sources overlook the importance of this book in its finalized form in 1910. It is well known as the foundational guidance for the Church of Christ, Scientist, but the book also managed to stir up questions about issues that so many male religious leaders and thinkers believed they had settled. In writing about the first edition of Science and Health, feminist scholar and biographer Gillian Gill homes in on this point:[18] "The real issue is the author's audacity, her daring to think that a woman like her, with her resources, could write, not the expected textbook on mental healing techniques, not the comfortable compendium of healing anecdotes, but a book that takes on the great questions of God and man, good and evil, and that rejects orthodox verities."


Science and Health encapsulates the teachings of Christian Science and Christian Scientists often call it their "textbook". At Sunday services, the sermon consists of passages from the Bible with "correlative passages"[19] from Science and Health. Eddy called the two books Christian Science's "dual and impersonal pastor".[20]


  1. ^ Eddy, Mary Baker (1892). Retrospection and Introspection. Boston, MA: Christian Science Publishing Society. 24, 37. ISBN 978-1421963143.
  2. ^ a b c Orcutt, William Dana (1950). Mary Baker Eddy and her books. Christian Science Publishing Society. pp. 16, 19.
  3. ^ a b c Staff reporter (Aug 22, 1985). "Christian Scientists fight over founder's book". Boca Raton News. Retrieved Oct 3, 2014.
  4. ^ 75 Books by Women Whose Words Have Changed the World
  5. ^ Gutjahr, Paul C. “Sacred Texts in the United States”, Book History, vol. 4, 2001, p. 348. JSTOR, JSTOR 30227336. Accessed 10 Feb. 2023.
  6. ^ Eddy. Science and Health. p. 113. ISBN 978-0879524371.
  7. ^ Eddy. Science and Health. p. 492. ISBN 978-0879524371.
  8. ^ Eddy. Science and Health. p. 468. ISBN 978-0879524371.
  9. ^ Eddy. Science and Health. p. 606. ISBN 978-0879524371.
  10. ^ Ventimiglia, p. 116.
  11. ^ Private Law 92-60, AN ACT For the relief of Clayton Bion Craig, Arthur P. Wuth, Mrs. Lenore D. Hanks, David E. Sleeper, and DeWitt John
  12. ^ Ventimiglia, p. 147.
  13. ^ UPI (Dec 11, 1971). "Senate Gives Scientists 75-Year Text Extension". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved Oct 3, 2014.
  14. ^ AP (Sep 23, 1987). "Christian Science Text's Copyright Is Ruled Illegal by Appeals Court". The New York Times. Retrieved Oct 3, 2014. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said the law giving the church a copyright to all editions of 'Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures' was unconstitutional because it 'offends the fundamental principles of separation of church and state.'
  15. ^ "United Christian Scientists, et al. v. Christian Science Board of Directors, First Church Of Christ, Scientist, Appellant, 829 F.2d 1152 (D.C. Cir. 1987)". Justia Law. Retrieved 2021-06-16.
  16. ^ Bundy, David A. (1975). 100 Acres More or Less: The History of the Land and People of Bow, New Hampshire. Phoenix Pub. p. 395. ISBN 978-0-914016-24-3.
  17. ^ Library, The Mary Baker Eddy (2022-11-20). "What are considered the major editions of "Science and Health"?". Mary Baker Eddy Library. Retrieved 2023-02-12.
  18. ^ Gill 1998, p. 217.
  19. ^ Eddy, Mary Baker (1908). Manual of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ Scientist in Boston, Massachusetts (89th ed.). Published by the Trustees under the will of Mary Baker G. Eddy. p. 120.
  20. ^ Eddy (1896). Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896. The First Church of Christ, Scientist. p. 322. ISBN 978-0879520403.


Further reading[edit]

  • Voorhees, Amy B. (2021). A New Christian Identity: Christian Science Origins and Experience in American Culture. University of North Carolina Press.
  • Ventimiglia, Andrew (2018). Copyrighting God: Ownership of the Sacred in American Religion. Cambridge University Press.
  • Mary Baker Eddy Library (2002). In My True Light and Life: Mary Baker Eddy Collections. Mary Baker Eddy Library.
  • Brosang, Ernest J. (1990). A Christian Science Library: A Descriptive and Extended Bibliography. privately printed.

External links[edit]