The Church History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is marking the 100th anniversary of first publication of the book Jesus the Christ with an exhibit beginning September 8, 2015.
The book was commissioned by the Church’s First Presidency and written by Elder James E. Talmage of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The apostle first taught a course on Jesus Christ from 1904 to 1906. Over the next few years, Talmage worked on the book, but it wasn’t until September of 1914 that he was able to give his dedicated attention to the project. Seven months later, he had a completed manuscript.
Elise Reynolds, a Church history specialist, said, “After the scriptures, Jesus the Christ is really the go-to reference … on the life of the Savior.” In the book’s 42 chapters, Elder Talmage presents the life of the Savior, His ministry, choosing the apostles, His crucifixion, resurrection and the final chapter, “Jesus the Christ to Return.”
The exhibit includes Elder Talmage’s lecture outlines and pages from his original handwritten manuscript, as well as a first edition of Jesus the Christ, a 1963 edition and Dutch and Russian editions. The Dutch edition was one of the first languages to be translated after the book was released in English. The book has been translated into 15 languages as well as in Braille.
“It is also interesting to know,” remarked Reynolds “that the writing was done in the Salt Lake Temple.” Elder Talmage was given space in the temple where he could work on the book with less distraction.
While the exhibit itself focuses on Jesus the Christ as a publication, it offers an incredible opportunity to learn more about Elder Talmage as a “faithful man,” “teacher” and “servant of the Lord.” Elder Talmage was known for putting the Church ahead of his career and other opportunities. His journals indicate that he was often at Church meetings, asked to speak at Church events and spent many evenings administering to the sick.
The exhibit on Temple Square concludes in early October. There is also an exhibit commemorating the book’s publication in the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.