James E. Talmage wrote his groundbreaking book Jesus the Christ more than 100 years ago, and the powerful truths it contains continue to strengthen and inspire Latter-day Saints around the world. Here are a few things every Church member should know about this iconic work.
1. Jesus the Christ: A Study of the Messiah and His Mission According to Holy Scriptures Both Ancient and Modern was written by Elder James E. Talmage at the request of the First Presidency: Joseph F. Smith, Anthon H. Lund, and Charles W. Penrose.
In August 1915, just before Jesus the Christ was published, the First Presidency stated: “The sacred subject of our Savior’s life and mission is presented as it is accepted and proclaimed by the Church that bears His Holy Name. We desire that the work Jesus the Christ be read and studied by the Latter-day Saints, in their families, and in the organizations that are devoted wholly or in part to theological study.”
2. Jesus the Christ is the only book that has been written in the Salt Lake Temple.
Elder Talmage spent countless hours writing his manuscript by hand in a council room on the fourth floor of the Salt Lake Temple. In his journal entry dated April 19, 1915, he wrote: “Finished the actual writing of the book Jesus the Christ, to which I have devoted every spare hour since settling down to the work of composition on September 14th last. Had it not been that I was privileged to do this work in the Temple it would be at present far from completion. I have felt the inspiration of the place and have appreciated the privacy and quietness incident thereto. I hope to proceed with the work of revision without delay.”
3. There are several ways you can access Jesus the Christ free of charge.
An audio download of Jesus the Christ is available free of charge on lds.org. You can also read the text of Jesus the Christ on lds.org. (Copies of Jesus the Christ are also available for purchase at Deseret Book.)
4. Jesus the Christ is one of the few books approved for missionary reading.
Considered one of the all-time great classics of LDS literature, Jesus the Christ is a comprehensive look into the life and ministry of the Savior. This volume is more than a simple outline of the Savior’s life. It presents a far-reaching view of the Savior—including His life in the flesh, His premortal existence, and His activities across time as the world’s Redeemer.
Other books approved for missionaries include Our Heritage, Our Search for Happiness, and True to the Faith.
5. Anew study guide is available to enhance your reading of Jesus the Christ.
A study guide on Jesus the Christ was first prepared in 1916 for use in priest quorums. Another study guide was published serially in Instructor magazine for use in the 1964 Sunday School program. And a new study guide has now been published.
The new Jesus the Christ Study Guidediscusses archeological and textual discoveries that have been made in the past century. For example, as authors Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and Thomas A. Wayment explain, “In 1905, Elder Talmage noted that, ‘The exact site of the city [Capernaum] is at present unknown,’ (p.153), whereas today we would note that the location of the city is known with certainty and we can now visit the site on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. An improved understanding of the history and archeology of Israel will help us be conversant with other Christians of our day, and it will also provide us with a deeper understanding of the mortal ministry of the Savior.”
The study guide also includes many important Joseph Smith Translation changes that were not originally used in the publication of Jesus the Christ. But perhaps one of the most useful features of the study guide will be the inclusion of dozens of teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
“With the inclusion of these new materials, we hope that readers will be rewarded with a greater understanding of the original text of Jesus the Christ,” the authors said.
The new Jesus the Christ Study Guide is available as a paperback at deseretbook.com. Or, if you sign up for Deseret Book's new app, Bookshelf Plus, it's free to read as an eBook. Bookshelf Plus offers access to unlimited audiobooks and more than 1,500 eBook titles. Start your free 30-day trialtoday!