Please explain the repetition of subject matter in certain of the E. G. White books. Why should books of posthumous issuance repeat subject matter already generally available?
Aside from two small biographical works, seventy-two out of every hundred pages comprising the E. G. White books published since 1915 present matter which was not generally available prior to issuance in its present form. On an average, the remaining twenty-eight pages in these posthumous works are drawn from current sources and are therefore a repetition of that which is already in the complete current Spirit of prophecy library.
Three sources may be drawn from in compilation of Spirit of prophecy writings : (I) The E. G. White books available to all, which we shall refer to as current sources. (2) The E. G. White periodical articles which appeared in the Review and Herald, Signs of the Times, and other papers, and out-of-print pamphlets and books not generally available today. For the purposes of this article, these are termed new materials. (3) The E. G. White manuscript files, also termed new sources.
The relationship in volume of the current material used, to formerly nonavailable material, varies with the several books. From Testimonies to Ministers and The Sanctified Life, every page of which is new matter, the ratio increases on up to such books as Counsels on Diet and Foods and Counsels on Health which are drawn about half from current sources and about half from new matter.
The basic objective of the book has determined in a very large degree the sources from which the material has been drawn. While some may feel that the ideal would be to have every posthumous work contain all new text material throughout, from a practical standpoint this has not been possible. To make this point clear, let us look at a few typical works.
Testimonies to Ministers, published in 1923, was issued to make available much special testimony material first printed in leaflets and a few periodical articles. These were arranged in a rather general natural order, and there was no call for the inclusion of current material.
The Sanctified Life was the reprinting in 1937 of an earlier booklet, and so constituted a complete unit of new material.
Fundamentals of Christian Education was issued in 1923 to make available the E. G. White periodical articles and special testimonies on the subject not currently in the hands of educators, and the book was confined to these sources, except for the introductory testimony article of special historic interest, for it embodied the great basic vision on Christian education, of which later visions were but an expansion. The content of this book is, therefore, nearly all new material.
Messages to Young People and Medical Ministry were compiled to make quite complete volumes of counsel addressed to specific groups. The initial call for such works sprang from the fact that during the years much counsel had been written for our young people and for our professional medical groups, and these had been reached at first through periodical articles or through manuscripts sent to individual workers or smaller groups. But these materials were not available to the enlarging groups, and to make them available, the two books named were published in the early thirties.
However, as the messages of counsel were assembled for these volumes, certain fields of instruction were only partially represented in new sources, and to fill out the sections so they would be relatively complete units, current sources, principally the nine volumes of the Testimonies, were drawn from. It was felt that the reader would be much better pleased to have the treatment of the subject complete, even though he was reading a few paragraphs or sentences drawn from some other volume already on his shelf, rather than to have the topic only partially presented, with cross references given to the current volumes. Messages to Young People is fifty-seven per cent new material, principally Instructor and Review articles. Medical Ministry is drawn ninety per cent from new sources, largely manuscripts.
Counsels on Diet and Foods and Counsels on Sabbath School Work sprang from calls for books grouping all the Spirit of prophecy counsel in each of these specialized fields in single volumes—the one to serve as a source book to the student of diet, and the other as a manual to the Sabbath school worker. Consequently, the content of these books is drawn from current published sources, periodical articles, out-of-print books, and the Ellen G. White manuscript files. In the case of these two books, the advantage of having the full range of specialized counsel in one single volume far outweighs the repetition of subject matter which may seem burdensome to some.
Wherever it has been possible to do so, those responsible for the authorized issuance of posthumous Ellen G. White books have ever kept at a practical minimum the amount of subject matter which would constitute a repetition of counsel and instruction already in the libraries of our workers and laity. Will not a careful analysis of the objectives of the books in question snatch from the lips any criticism which may at first thought seem justified?