by Adventist Today News Team
Claiming inspiration from WikiLeaks and the internet activists called Anonymous, a web site has appeared in the last few days with the announced intention of releasing digital versions of the unpublished Ellen G. White manuscripts. The web site includes what it claims is the “last Ellen White manuscript” which is identified as Manuscript 1, 1915.
The web site is anonymous and describes its project as the work of a network of Adventist “students and laypeople” located near the Ellen G. White Estate Research Centers at several Adventist universities and colleges around the world. Volunteers “would scan or photocopy a few unrelated documents every so often” and pool these materials. A complete listing of all the White letters and manuscripts has been published for some time.
This slow pace of obtaining copies of unreleased materials was speeded up by a leak from a staff member at one of the research centers, claims the web page. “Not all, even among those with positions high in the White Estate organization, are happy with the policies restricting the access of the unpublished materials.”
Seeking to justify what some may see as an approach more aggressive than is acceptable among Seventh-day Adventists, the web site says that for more than 12 years the White Estate has been telling inquirers it will begin to publish the complete White documents “within the next few years.” It also refers negatively to compilations that have released selected materials often out of the original context and the “close supervision” of White Estate personnel when researchers are allowed to review original manuscripts at the White Estate offices.
The previously unpublished “last manuscript” released on the web site consists of two fragmentary pieces dated February 24 and April 3, 1915, during the last months of her life. Adventist Today has not been able to confirm the authenticity of this manuscript. It appears to be short verbal statements that White made to her staff when she was ill in bed.
The piece dated February 24 predicts “great changes will take place … when I am laid to rest” and warns that “Satan’s agencies will invent ways to make sinners out of saints.” The fragment is very short and without context, so it is impossible to know if the “great changes” were related to “Satan’s agencies” in White’s mind.
The fragment dated April 3 is addressed to “her grandchildren” and states, “Remember the Lord will carry us through. I am guarding every moment, so that nothing may come between me and the Lord. I hope there will not. God grant that we may all prove faithful. There will be a glorious meeting soon.”
Who is behind this development? What is the real agenda? Are the documents they are releasing on the web genuine? These are all good questions and Adventist Today will do its best to find answers.
The email that Adventist Today received telling us about this web site is from an IP address in Europe, according to the email system. There is some terminology used on the web site that indicates that it may well not be authored by an American.
Volume 1 of the Ellen White letters is offered for sale on the web site for about eight dollars. It is described as including the letters from the first 11 years of her materials, 1845-1856. Volume 1 of the Manuscripts, covering the same years, will be published soon. And the price of these eBooks will come down as the cost of the project is covered. Adventist Today has not yet obtained an actual copy of this publication to confirm any of this.
“The unpublished writings of Ellen White are only the beginning,” the anonymous web site promises. “Our ultimate goal is to see the full collection of unpublished letters and manuscripts from the first century of our Church accessible to the public.” It is unclear whether this means just materials authored by Ellen White, or a wider set of documents.
The web site can be seen at www.unpublishedellenwhite.com. Adventist Today will continue to monitor its development.
There is a history of conflict over access to and publication of the large number of letters, diaries and other manuscripts that Ellen White left in her office files when she died. Adventist historian Gil Valentine, currently a faculty member at La Sierra University, published a detailed history of some of these issues in 2006 in The Struggle for the Prophetic Heritage (Institute Press). Ron Graybill was forced off the White Estate staff over two decades ago with allegations that he used some quotes in his PhD dissertation about White at Johns Hopkins University which had not been officially released.