by Marsha Ward
Many years ago, while I was serving a proselytizing mission for the LDS Church, I read Jesus the Christ, by James E. Talmage, for the first time. Over the intervening years, I have dipped into it again and again, but now I am undertaking a complete read for the second time.
I have no doubt that this endeavor will take much time, perhaps up to a year, but I look forward to it, for this is the book that helped cement my abiding faith in my Lord, Jesus Christ as divine, as my Lord and Savior, and my Redeemer.
Talmage, who was an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, complete the text in April, 1915, and revisions were finished later that year. The text was based on a series of lectures he had given in 1904 and 1905, after which the leaders of the Church asked him to write the material in book form. Other commitments prevented him beginning the work on a book until the next decade, but once he could begin, the work went forward in a room in the Salt Lake Temple, where he wrote each chapter in longhand, then submitted it to the church leaders for approval.
Although this book is now almost one hundred years old, its scholarship and merit as the defining work by modern man testifying that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the holy Jehovah and Redeemer of this world, has stood the test of time.
Talmage writes in a deep and intense English, of such precision and correctness that each word resonates in the soul of the prayerful reader. In fact, prayer is a great help as an accompaniment to reading the work, especially for our younger generation that does not have the benefit of instruction in grammar and generally lacks in a generous vocabulary.
For me, it is a joy to immerse myself in the elegant English phrases, challenging me to better myself and my grasp of English as much as it challenges me to increase my faith in Jesus the Christ.
I will never, ever forget the perfect vision this book brought to my mind of my Lord and Master in the depth of despair at Gethsemane, of the vicious indignities he stoically bore during the time of his trial, and the overwhelming grief I felt at the foot of his cross, so vivid as though I had actually sat there, beholding the events in real time.
It changed my life forever.
This tome testified not only of the divinity of Jesus Christ, but of the power of words, of testimony, and of conviction. It solidified my belief and faith in my Savior, which has remained unshakeable throughout my life.
I encourage those who have never ventured into this classic work to dip into it, to savor the deep conviction of Talmage in his subject matter, and to be converted to the knowledge of the divine work of Jesus the Christ, the immortal Son of God, and his atoning sacrifice for mankind, for me, and for you.