A Prophet Among You


Chapter 16—The Ellen G. White Books

Ellen White is best known through her books, which currently number forty-five volumes. As early as 1914, George Wharton James, who was personally acquainted with Mrs. White, made this comment: “This remarkable woman, ... though almost entirely self-educated, has written and published more books and in more languages, which circulate to a greater extent than the written works of any woman of history.” California—Romantic and Beautiful, pages 319, 320. Tens of thousands of lives throughout the world have been affected directly or indirectly by the messages of these volumes. Many who have known nothing of the life and character of the author have purchased or borrowed one or more of the books and have read and been blessed for the reading. Other thousands who know of the life and work of Ellen White buy more and more of the books so that they may have ready access to all the counsel. APAY 294.1

A knowledge of the background of the writing of the books is essential to our understanding of the full import of the messages they contain. The circumstances, situations, and inspiration out of which the volumes emerged shed light on their meaning and significance. The more nearly one can enter into the life experience of the writer the more fully he will grasp the train of thought presented, and be able to translate it into action in his own life. We recognize this principle in our study of the books of the Bible and their authors. Every time we learn something new about Jeremiah, his associates, the circumstances under which he did his work, or the general historical setting of his life, our added knowledge enables us to interpret more accurately the meaning of the words he wrote. It is because of this that modern archaeology has made such vast contributions to our understanding of the message of the Bible. APAY 294.2

Details of the background of the writing of the Ellen White books could easily occupy a volume of their own. In a one-chapter treatment only a few of the books can be touched, but additional study and work on the part of the student will produce information that will contribute not only to his store of historical information, but to his keenness of spiritual perception as well. In this chapter the major emphasis will be placed on the growth of the sets of books known now as the Conflict of the Ages Series, and Testimonies for the Church. With few exceptions these are the Ellen White books that are best known and have had the widest circulation. However, before coming to these, attention should be given to an earlier volume. APAY 295.1