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Reproduced from the archive of The Mary Baker Eddy Library

Eddy v. Arens

Several events led to the lawsuit of Eddy v. Arens, beginning with the estrangement of Mary Baker Eddy’s student, Edward J. Arens, from her and from the Christian Scientist Association. Starting in 1878, Arens began adding his own ideas to what he had learned of Christian Science from Eddy and became increasingly antagonistic towards her. In 1880, he anonymously published a pamphlet titled, in part, The Science of the Relation Between God and Man and the Distinction Between Spirit and Matter. The pamphlet contained numerous plagiarisms of Eddy’s writings, as did a revision he issued in 1881 under his own name and titled The Understanding of Christianity, or God. In response, Mary Baker Eddy’s husband, Asa Gilbert Eddy, contributed a foreword to the third edition of her book, Science and Health, in which he called Arens an “ignorant hypocrite,” and denounced his plagiarisms. Around this time, the Eddys considered suing Arens for copyright infringement but decided not to do so.

In late 1882, Arens began looking into the beliefs and healing methods of Phineas P. Quimby. He’d probably heard of Quimby from Julius Dresser, a former patient of Quimby’s, when Dresser took a class on metaphysical healing from Arens. Mary Baker Eddy had been Quimby’s patient before her spiritual healing experience in February 1866 that she would later identify as the point of her “discovery” of Christian Science. Quimby’s copyist, Emma Ware, Quimby’s son, George, and Arens teamed up with Julius Dresser, who launched a public campaign in the Boston Post to claim Quimby as the source of Eddy’s Christian Science. Dresser’s initial article appeared in the Post on February 8, 1883, in the form of a letter to the Editor. Eddy’s response appeared on February 19, followed by Dresser’s rebuttal on February 24. A final letter by Eddy was published on March 9.

The exchange between Dresser and Eddy may have contributed to Eddy’s decision, on April 6, 1883, to ask for an injunction from the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Massachusetts, to stop Arens from printing and circulating his pamphlet. In his response, Arens took the position that Eddy had herself plagiarized her writings and ideas from Phineas Quimby. Arens was ultimately unable to prove his case, and on October 4, 1883, the Court ordered Arens to stop circulating the pamphlet and that all remaining copies be destroyed (which was done on October 5, 1883).

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