We are aware that Shakespeare’s writings have been kept alive because of interpretations and revisions. The list of Shakespearean cultural creations is endless and includes paintings, television, music, and dance. Modern versions of Shakespeare’s writings have been cast in today’s vernacular and settings—“The Taming of the Shrew” resulted in “Kiss me Kate,” and “Romeo and Juliet” was transformed into “West Side Story.”
For this reason, 19th century’s classic book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures was revised. Its author, spiritual leader and healer, Mary Baker Eddy gives a seminal interpretation of God to all seekers of truth. The teachings found in Science and Health has proven to substantiate spiritual healing through the study and practice of divine Science.
Unlike Shakespeare, whose writings have been kept alive for almost 400 years, Eddy’s writings have been buried—and in a matter of only one hundred years—under a false utopia of literal conservatism upheld by religious tradition. The fatal mistake of regurgitating 19th century words indirectly disallowed the collective readership, educated in the 20th century, from actually reading or interpreting the spirit of Science and Health. The repetition of outmoded terminology and references snowballed into dissatisfaction and readers dispersed.
At the turn of the 21st century, a self-governing, yet liberal society of readers revisited Science and Health with the courage and accountability to read and interpret the spirit of Eddy’s writings, minus the attached addendum of religious authoritarianism. The readers negotiated a new language, revised the vernacular, discovered the teachings of divine Science, and experienced the intended healing. True to God, our selves, and the English speaking world, an updated version of Eddy’s Science and Health was adopted and titled 21st Century Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.
In the beginning, 21st Century Science and Health was authorless, a collaborative work in progress. Other readers joined the effort to bring meaning to passé language, until it was admitted that I, Cheryl Petersen, had the strongest inspired conviction to manifest one of the “the requisite revisions of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” (Quote from Eddy’s Science and Health, page 361) For legal and practical reasons, my name stands connected to 21st Century Science and Health, now in its 4th edition.
Predictably, 21st Century Science and Health is taken as a threat to those who regard themselves as purists, loyal to Eddy. This attitude automatically assumes anything other than the 19th century language of Eddy is contaminated or incorrect, even dangerous. However, the attitude that insists on the letter actually paralyzes itself from really reading or expressing the spirit.
Hindsight could claim that creativity, spirituality, and dignity, as expressed in revisions and contemporary versions, were actively rebelled against in the 20th century under the guise of keeping Eddy’s words pure. Gatekeepers were allowed to guard Science and Health, which in turn unwittingly circulated the claim that only a select few can understand and teach from the book.
Fortunately, at the turn of this century, readers threw off this claim and reclaimed their right and responsibility to think and interpret for themselves with God. The reclamation not only dissolved fears of wrongdoing, but also exposed the non-existent safety net of believing the letter has more power than the spirit, or that church rituals have more power than living life for others and not just a few likeminded purists. We readers today are dynamically praying when we are reading. New perspectives are coming to light and energizing us to shine in the world with multifaceted forms of love.
Classics would not be studied or taught on a tangible useful level were it not for revisions, crib notes, and cultural creations. Eddy’s 19th century language was intended to teach divine Science. The insidious notions that Eddy’s writings are pure, or that a revision changes the spirit of a teaching, are destructive and hypocritical, implying that no one could ever discuss or express divine Science in other words or art form other than what was produced in the 19th century.
Readers of 21st Century Science and Health are sharpened to the reality that Eddy’s writings are only her interpretation, inspired that it is, but that every reader is also interpreting what they read, see, feel, hear, taste, and know. We can courageously stand by God, divine Spirit, and assert our freedom to discover and experience divine Science, spiritually interpreting God, Life, practical to our everyday situations and wonderings.