The books that make up the Conflict of the Ages series—Patriarchs and Prophets, Prophets and Kings, The Desire of Ages, Acts of the Apostles, and The Great Controversy—were written and revised over a 50-year period beginning in the late 1850s. They tell the story of God’s interaction with mankind, drawn from White’s understanding of scripture, her engagement with biblical scholars, and visions she claimed to receive from God.
Two themes are central in White’s writings, and especially these books: One is the great conflict between God and Satan, and that age-long conflict is the namesake of both the series and the final book, The Great Controversy. The other theme is the infinitely loving character of God. The entire series begins and ends, literally, with the three words “God is love.”
White was prolific, and also busy as one of the founders of the recently established Seventh-day Adventist movement. That she was able to write these books at all, and that she completed them before her death, is a fascinating achievement, detailed in a series of articles published in 1936–1937 (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4).
For those unfamiliar with these books, the contents of each book are briefly summarized below.
Patriarchs and Prophets
Written in 1890, Patriarchs and Prophets explores the origin of evil, beginning with the story of Satan’s rebellion in heaven, and going through the creation of the world, the early patriarchs, all the way up through the life of King David.
Prophets and Kings
Written in 1917, Prophets and Kings begins with the life of Solomon and details the story of the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and the prophets who sought to call them to repentance. The volume concludes with the time of Israel’s exile into captivity.
The Desire of Ages
Written in 1898, The Desire of Ages details the central, pivotal event in Biblical history. In beautiful depth, this book depicts the birth, life, death, and resurrection of the desire of ages, Jesus Christ.
The Acts of the Apostles
Written in 1911, The Acts of the Apostles covers the period in time from the Great Commission, through the early New Testament church and the persecution it faced, up to John the Revelator’s visions on Patmos.
The Great Controversy
First published in 1888, but revised and republished in 1911, The Great Controversy begins with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, takes the reader through the whole of Church History, past, current, and future, up to the end of sin and the recreation of the earth.