Concord: Important Primary Source on Christian Science

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A screenshot of the online research application "Concord"
Screenshot of the Concord online research tool.

One of the goals of the Annotated Bibliography of Christian Science (ABCS) website is to give researchers access to reliable and productive resources on the subject of Christian Science. For too long, most of the accessible resources were dependent on very weak secondary sources.

The opening of The Mary Baker Eddy Library in 2002 made an enormous difference in the search for better primary sources and better secondary sources, as we witness the improvement of the quality of research on Christian Science found in the books and articles made available since that time. Click here for information on the primary source material made available by The Mary Baker Eddy Library. The additional support from this independent ABCS website broadens the scope of scholarship, and it strengthens research capabilities on several fronts (by allowing the cross referencing and searching in multiple categories).

There is another research tool, Concord, that deserves special attention because it brings researchers directly to the primary writings of Mary Baker Eddy, where they can zero in on topics most relevant to their subject of interest.

Why should scholars use Concord?

This online software study and research application is of vital importance for serious scholars who want to understand Eddy’s own thought or teaching on certain subjects. Secondary sources often rely on quotes others have referenced from Eddy to support a line of argument; but without access to the primary source, these quotes are easily taken out of context and can be misleading.

Now scholars can easily check the contextual accuracy of virtually any Mary Baker Eddy quote, or probe the meaning of certain topics that might not otherwise be easy to access.

For instance, let’s look at a pithy statement from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures such as “He wrought a full salvation from sin, sickness, and death.” Understanding Eddy’s intended meaning of salvation in this context might not be readily apparent, thus making it difficult to discuss this quote with any clarity. Since there is no chapter heading in Science and Health identified as “Salvation,” researchers won’t find any help in the book’s table of contents.

Using Concord, the researcher can quickly find that there are 31 references to ‘salvation’ in Science and Health and 64 references in 11 other published writings. By looking at other uses of the term in context, it is much easier to gain an accurate understanding of this deep theological topic.

Before this digitalized version of the Concordance, many scholars did not have easy access to Eddy’s published writings, but Concord has opened up all of her writings to easier and deeper research for everyone.

How does it work?

Concord is a robust web app adaptable for both casual and serious research. The app works on all sizes of screens and devices, though with some differences.

Concord offers searches within the full range of Eddy’s published writings, as well as allowing one to create, modify and print lists. Users can print information in a variety of modes: citation-only, book-format, and free-flowing texts. (As of this writing, early 2022, printing is not yet available from tablets or smartphones.)

When viewed on larger screens, queries for a word or phrase display all possible results in a list on the left of the three columns page display. Selecting one of the options, the word or phrase appears in the middle column in its context. The right-side column of the display allows the user to organize research results by lists that can be managed in a variety of ways.

A thorough FAQ page and help section provides answers to most questions users may have.

What are the levels of payment and subscription? 

“Concord Guest Access” is free, and offers an explorer five searches, list creation, list modification, and list printing – demonstrating the most useful and powerful tools available. After the first five searches, guests will be given the opportunity to register for a 30-day free trial, but use of the web app is still free, enabling guests access to unlimited researching of Eddy’s writings.

Deeper and consistent researchers can take advantage of a more robust version of the application offered via subscription. The standard subscription is $7.50 per month or $80 per year.

What are some of the more advanced features?

  • The annotation feature enables users to add commentary or embed links and images into the text.
  • Besides Mary Baker Eddy’s writings, two other books used during Christian Science services are included: The Bible and the Christian Science hymnal. The King James Version is most often used in services, so this is the only translation available.
  • Case-sensitive and stemming-enabled search facilitates more focused queries. An example of the usefulness of this feature is the particular use of capitalization in Eddy’s writing. Since she capitalizes certain words that are synonymous with God—such as Love, Spirit, Mind, etc.—it is helpful to be able to distinguish between her use of “mind” versus “Mind,” and so forth.

This web app is not only easy to use, but it gives scholars confidence in their efforts to understand complex or unusual ideas from Eddy’s writings. All students of Christian Science who strive to gain a fuller understanding of Eddy’s teachings will find Concord an indispensable aid.