Ellen G. White: The Australian Years: 1891-1900 (vol. 4)


Chapter 32—(1892-1898) Writing on the Life of Christ—The Desire of Ages

The arrival of copies of The Desire of Ages in December and the acceptance of the book in the field marked for Ellen White and her staff the climax of book preparation in Australia. This point offers an opportunity in this biography to draw together a connected account of the work that it was hoped could be accomplished in a year or two but took seven. 4BIO 375.1

When Ellen G. White left San Francisco for Australia in 1891, in her accompanying baggage were two precious four hundred-page volumes on the life of Christ. They were the center volumes in the four-book set titled The Spirit of Prophecy and known also as The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan. Volume 2, bearing the more specific title Life, Teachings and Miracles of Our Lord Jesus Christ, had been published in Battle Creek in 1877. The other carried the title The Death, Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, and had been published a year later. 4BIO 375.2

These two relatively small books were in the Australia-bound luggage because Ellen White planned that, away from the distractions of the work in North America, she would, with the assistance of Miss Marian Davis, who accompanied her, perfect and amplify the presentation they carried. It had been nearly fifteen years since they had come from the press, and Ellen White was eager to introduce into the story additional light and information that had come to her from time to time that had been set forth in her letters, periodical articles, and transcribed sermons. The projected volume, or volumes, would join the larger, more comprehensive Patriarchs and Prophets, just published, and The Great Controversy, issued in 1888. Together they traced the story of the Conflict of the Ages, and were prepared with both the church in particular and the world at large in mind as potential readers. 4BIO 375.3

With Ellen White's knowledge of the situation in Australia she was not as sanguine in regard to the opportunities for literary work there as were her fellow workers, who were without the benefit of her prophetic insights. Mention has been made in the preceding chapters of her often futile attempts to work on the life of Christ. Some years provided more favorable opportunities than others. While Ellen White's work on the project was intermittent, Marian Davis kept right at the task. The latter often felt it was about finished and then would be frustrated and at the same time delighted when light was received by Ellen White in vision that, when written out, added rich sources of materials. The work on the manuscript stretched from 1892 through 1897 and into 1898. Even then, with the receiving of the finished book on December 10, 1898, there was still more to do on the life of Christ. That was presented in Christ's Object Lessons, published two years later. Now we will trace, rather sketchily, the story of the preparation of The Desire of Ages. 4BIO 376.1