ELLEN WHITE’S LITERARY SOURCES:
HOW MUCH BORROWING IS THERE?

In response to questions concerning the extent of Ellen White’s use of literary sources, the Ellen G. White Estate staff, in 1983, decided to begin a marking project in which a complete set of Ellen White’s published writings would be highlighted to indicate passages documented as being verbally dependent upon a prior non-Ellen White and non-biblical literary source.

A significant part of the identification of such passages was done by Ron Graybill and Tim Poirier, both members of the White Estate staff, and Warren H. Johns, who at that time was in the Ministerial Association of the General Conference. In addition to their independent work, they marked all parallels that had come to their attention from earlier studies, regardless of whether they were from parties supportive of Ellen White or the church. The entire set of books used for this project is accessible at the office of the Ellen G. White Estate.

Only parallels demonstrating a clear verbal connection were marked, including paraphrasing; that is to say, mere thought parallels were not marked because of the impossibility of proving dependency in this area. In anticipation of Dr. Fred Veltman’s research, completed in 1988, The Desire of Ages was not included in the study, so as to avoid duplication of effort. Also, Ellen White compilations not indexed in the Comprehensive Index were not included.

It is important to understand that this report does not represent a final total of the extent of Ellen White’s use of literary sources and it is not intended as such. The project’s purpose is to identify those passages that are presently known to indicate literary dependency, as evidenced by proper documentation. This distinction is important. The project is an on-going one and the percentages presented are subject to revision in accordance with new information. The White Estate desires this project to be as thorough as possible and requests that additional parallels be forwarded to its Silver Spring, Maryland, office, with proper documentation, that is, a photocopy of the prior source and its bibliographic information.

The percentages presented have been calculated by totaling the number of lines of text per book that have been documented as being dependent upon a prior author, and dividing this figure by the total estimated number of lines in the book. The percentages also reflect a considerable amount of repetition of material found in the compilations published since Ellen White’s death, and, to a lesser extent, throughout the writings published in her lifetime.

The E. G. White books average from about 25 to 35 lines per page. For the sake of comparison, a book with 85 parallel lines is roughly equivalent to a total of 3 pages of literary dependency. The first list presents the book titles alphabetically, not according to the percentage of parallel material. The second list presents the book titles by percentage of literary dependency.

The books of Ellen G. White average from about 25 to 35 lines per page. For the sake of comparison, a book which contains 85 lines of parallel material has roughly the equivalent of 3 pages of text which draws upon other sources. The first list presents the book titles alphabetically, not according to the percentage of parallel material. The second list presents the book titles by percentage of literary parallels.

The Ellen G. White Estate
October 14, 1986
Updated October 7, 2019

PERCENTAGES OF DOCUMENTED LITERARY PARALLELS BY BOOK TITLE

Title Parallel Lines Percentage of Book
Acts of the Apostles, The 426 3.05
Adventist Home, The 55 0.41
Child Guidance 61 0.50
Christ’s Object Lessons 70 0.60
Christian Service 60 0.80
Counsels on Diet and Foods 62 0.45
Counsels on Health 86 0.49
Counsels on Sabbath School Work 13 0.32
Counsels on Stewardship 58 0.80
Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students 64 0.49
Counsels to Writers and Editors 14 0.34
Early Writings 10 0.14
Education 71 0.88
Evangelism 50 0.30
Faith and Works 73 2.97
Fundamentals of Christian Education 159 0.91
Gospel Workers 99 0.81
Great Controversy, The (credited citations) 3241 15.11
Great Controversy, The (additional uncredited parallels) 1084 5.05
Life Sketches 58 1.00
Medical Ministry 34 0.36
Messages to Young People 282 2.67
Ministry of Healing, The 99 0.79
My Life Today 126 1.33
Patriarchs and Prophets 548 2.28
Prophets and Kings 265 1.59
Sanctified Life, The 17 0.81
Selected Messages, book 1 235 2.03
Selected Messages, book 2 20 0.17
Sketches From the Life of Paul 1342 12.33
Steps to Christ 211 6.70
Temperance 25 0.37
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1 135 0.60
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2 46 0.22
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3 206 1.12
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4 398 1.89
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5 651 2.88
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6 62 0.52
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7 56 0.77
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8 82 0.97
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9 18 0.28
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers 133 0.89
Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing 29 0.76
Welfare Ministry 73 0.99


BOOK TITLES BY PERCENTAGE OF DOCUMENTED LITERARY PARALLELS

Title Parallel Lines Percentage of Book
Great Controversy, The (credited citations) 3241 15.11
Great Controversy, The (additional uncredited parallels) 1084 5.05
Sketches From the Life of Paul 1342 12.33
Steps to Christ 211 6.70
Acts of the Apostles, The 426 3.05
Faith and Works 73 2.97
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5 656 2.91
Messages to Young People 282 2.67
Patriarchs and Prophets 548 2.28
Selected Messages, book 1 235 2.03
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4 398 1.89
Prophets and Kings 265 1.59
My Life Today 126 1.33
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3 206 1.12
Life Sketches 58 1.00
Welfare Ministry 73 0.99
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8 82 0.97
Fundamentals of Christian Education 159 0.91
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers 133 0.89
Education 71 0.88
Gospel Workers 99 0.81
Sanctified Life 17 0.81
Christian Service 60 0.80
Counsels on Stewardship 58 0.80
Ministry of Healing, The 99 0.79
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7 56 0.77
Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing 29 0.76
Christ’s Object Lessons 70 0.60
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1 135 0.60
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6 62 0.52
Child Guidance 61 0.50
Counsels on Health 86 0.49
Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students 64 0.49
Counsels on Diet and Foods 62 0.45
Adventist Home, The 55 0.41
Temperance 25 0.37
Medical Ministry 34 0.36
Counsels to Writers and Editors 14 0.34
Counsels on Sabbath School Work 13 0.32
Evangelism 50 0.30
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9 18 0.28
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2 46 0.22
Selected Messages, bk. 2 20 0.17
Early Writings 10 0.14