She gave up Adventism because of one word, the preposition: “with.” Let me explain. Many years ago she had graduated from an Adventist university as a medical professional. Then one day a close relative asked her a simple question: “Where was Adam when Eve got tempted by the Serpent in Eden?” Her immediate response? Eve had wandered away from Adam’s side when she encountered the devil at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then, that medical professional was asked to read Genesis 3:6. “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” If the Bible says that Eve “gave also unto her husband with her,” what does one do with the following statement from Ellen White? “The angels had cautioned Eve to beware of separating herself from her husband while occupied in their daily labor in the garden; with him she would be in less danger from temptation than if she were alone. But absorbed in her pleasing task, she unconsciously wandered from his side. . . . Unmindful of the angels’ caution, she soon found herself gazing with mingled curiosity and admiration upon the forbidden tree” (Patriarchs and Prophets, 53-54). After Eve had eaten from the tree, Ellen White notes that, “with her hands filled with the forbidden fruit, she sought his [i.e., Adam’s] presence, and related all that had occurred” (Patriarchs and Prophets, 56).
Ellen White’s clear statement that Eve was not with Adam when tempted seems to directly contradict the Bible’s account that her husband was “with her.” How should Adventists respond when confronted with such challenges? Just the way we have consistently done in the past – by means of “careful research and prayerful reflection” (see Steps to Christ, 91). For example, when challenged with the words of Jesus to the dying thief (“Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise”), we have correctly pointed out that the original Greek language had no punctuation. Hence, based upon the rest of the Bible’s teaching that humankind is mortal, we conclude that Luke 23:43 should read: “Verily I say unto thee today, shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
So then, how does “careful research and prayerful reflection” resolve the apparent contradiction of the Adam and Eve accounts of Ellen White and the Bible? Interestingly, it all centers on that English preposition “with.” The Hebrew language has two completely different terms for “with:” ’eth and ‘im, each with its own distinct primary meaning. The standard Hebrew dictionary points out that ’eth is a preposition “denoting proximity;” then, it adds “together with.” For example, speaking about the wicked, God says to Noah: “I will destroy them with the earth“ (Genesis 6:13b). The word “with” in this text is a translation of the Hebrew ’eth, which means “together with,” because it denotes “proximity.”
However, consider for a moment Genesis 3:12, where Adam is vainly seeking to excuse his sin: “And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” Immediately, one will recognize that vital preposition “with.” However, instead of the Hebrew term ’eth, the completely different word ‘im, is used. Why? Because, this latter term is one which refers to “fellowship and companionship.” Hence, the New English Bible, accurately capturing the specific meaning of this different Hebrew term for “with,” renders Genesis 3:12 as follows: “The man said, ‘The woman you gave me for a companion, she gave me fruit from the tree and I ate it.’” Obviously, God did not give Eve to Adam to be physically “together with” him wherever he went. But, He did give Eve to Adam “for a companion,” which is an accurate translation conveying what the Hebrew term ‘im means.
So, guess which Hebrew term for “with” is used in our “problem text” of Genesis 3:6? Right, it’s the word ‘im, the term that means “companionship.” In brief, using “careful research” we can correctly conclude as follows: By inspiration, Moses stated that, after she had taken and eaten of the forbidden tree, Eve gave some fruit “unto her husband, [literally] companion of her.” Actually, nothing in the text (or especially the context) suggests that Adam was “together with” Eve. On the contrary, the use of the specific term denoting “companionship” reveals that there is no contradiction between the Bible and Ellen White!
If only that medical professional had engaged in “careful research and prayerful reflection” – she may not have abandoned Adventism, when her surface reading of Scripture led her to the inaccurate impression that Ellen White is a false prophet. Our faith need not falter when faced with any challenge, if we are willing to do “careful research and prayerful reflection.”
But, what are we to do when Ellen White’s declarations seem to be directly contrary to published historical “facts”? Recently, the fifth and sixth trumpets of Revelation 9 have become a topic of intensive investigation. In the Great Controversy (pp. 334-335) Ellen White states: “In the year 1840 another remarkable fulfillment of prophecy excited widespread interest. Two years before, Josiah Litch, one of the leading ministers preaching the second advent, published an exposition of Revelation 9, predicting the fall of the Ottoman Empire. According to his calculations, this power was to be overthrown ‘in A.D. 1840, sometime in the month of August;’ and only a few days previous to its accomplishment he wrote. . . . [that since] ‘the 391 years, fifteen days, commenced at the close of the first period, it will end on the 11th of August, 1840, when the Ottoman power in Constantinople may be expected to be broken. . . .’
"At the very time specified, Turkey, through her ambassadors, accepted the protection of the allied powers of Europe, and thus placed herself under the control of Christian nations. The event exactly fulfilled the prediction. (See Appendix.) When it became known, multitudes were convinced of the correctness of the principles of prophetic interpretation adopted by Miller and his associates, and a wonderful impetus was given to the advent movement. Men of learning and position united with Miller, both in preaching and in publishing his views, and from 1840 to 1844 the work rapidly extended.”
The above two paragraphs have recently come under increasing scrutiny, due to the fact that the generally accepted historical records did not appear to support Ellen White’s account. Over the past two years, as a result of several visits to five research centers in four states, original newspapers from 1840 have been located and documented. Several newspapers in the United Kingdom record the fact that the arrival of ambassador Rifat Bey “from Constantinople, on the 11th instant [i.e., of August, 1840], with the ultimatum of the four Powers, produced a great sensation here [in Alexandria]” (London Morning Chronicle, September 5, 1840).
Those living at that time (and those aware of events in Europe) rightly understood the significance of that “ultimatum.” This significant news was reported here in the USA in the New York Spectator, of September 26, 1840. In fact, according to A Short History of Islam (published by Oxford University Press in 1960), once this ultimatum had been signed by these “Christian nations,” “the death-knell had rung for the Ottoman Empire” (p. 581). By the end of November of 1840, the London Morning Herald stated that: “We fear that the Sultan [i.e., the ruler of the Ottoman Empire] has been reduced to the rank of a puppet” (December 1, 1840, p. 4).
Additional evidence is now surfacing, showing once again that Ellen White was right all along. Indeed, no truth will lose anything by means of the closest investigation. We, as Adventists, have not “followed cunningly devised fables” (see 2 Peter 1:16). With even greater gusto, Adventists can now boldly distribute that classic volume, the Great Controversy, knowing that God inspired this important book, for sharing His love, at such a time as this in world history.