‘A Scribe Under Orders’

  • Alice M. Hummer

This article is part of our Longyear for Kids series, written with a younger audience in mind. See more articles in the series here.

Did you know that Mary Baker Eddy called herself “a scribe under orders”1? A scribe, if you check your dictionary, is someone who writes something down. But she wasn’t just any kind of writer. She was a scribe under orders, which means she was obediently writing down the words that she was being told to say. Where do you think her instructions were coming from?

Even as a little girl, Mary liked praying and listening for God’s voice. One day when she was an adult, she was badly hurt when she fell on an icy sidewalk. She was healed when she read one of Jesus’ healings in the Bible and felt God’s love with her right there. Afterward, she wanted to know how she was able to get out of bed and walk—totally free! She spent three whole years reading the Bible, praying, and asking God to guide her. She said it was like being led into “a new world of light . . . old to God but new to His ‘little one.’”2

As she understood more about how God cares for everyone, she began to heal others—men, women, and children, too. She wanted to share what she was learning.

Since she was a small girl, Mary had wanted to write a book. Now it felt as though God was instructing her to do just that. But she first had to find the right words to describe what she was learning about Him. She said it was like being a little child who was just learning to talk and trying to describe the beautiful world all around her.
3 She would pray and listen for what God was telling her, write some words, scratch them out, pray some more, and write different words that seemed clearer. Slowly, as God gave her the words, she wrote pamphlets. Later, she wrote Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.


By the time she lived at 8 Broad Street in Lynn, Massachusetts, she had hired a printer to make the many pages she had written for Science and Health into a real book. But he decided he knew more about what she was writing than she did and changed a lot of her words! So day in and day out in the little skylight room shown here, she worked on. She made correction after correction to the printed pages, waiting for God to tell her just what to say.

The book was published on Oct. 30, 1875. For the rest of her life, always listening for God’s guidance, Mary Baker Eddy revised Science and Health to make its meaning clearer. Many people have learned about God from this book and have been healed by it—all thanks to the “scribe under orders.”


Click here for an activity sheet about the pens used in Mrs. Eddy’s day and see a picture of one that she used to write Science and Health.


1You can find these words in a book called Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, by Mary Baker Eddy, on page 311.

2Mrs. Eddy wrote this in a book about her life called Retrospection and Introspection, on page 27.

3 Mrs. Eddy writes about this experience on page ix of the preface of Science and Health.