Twenty-nine-year-old geologist and college president James E. Talmage noted in his journal in 1891: “Today I had an interview with the First Presidency of the Church … another appointment for an interview was set for Monday next.” From these two meetings came a commission to write twenty-four lectures, twenty-two of which were ultimately delivered to college audiences, treating the basic tenets of LDS beliefs. The lectures were then published by the church as The Articles of Faith, the only authorized, book-length explication of Mormon belief. The book proved to be one of several seminal treatises Talmage would write that would dominate the landscape of Mormon beliefs for a century.
Talmage felt honored to write for the church and offered The Articles of Faith as a gift, waiving royalties. The first print run of 10,500 quickly sold out and has sold well to the present day.
Besides articulating well-established points of doctrine, The Articles of Faith also addresses controversies concerning eternal progress, the Holy Ghost, the kingdom of God, rebaptism, and unforgivable sins.
Accompanying this edition of The Articles of Faith—an exact photomechanical reproduction of the first edition—is another, albeit lesser-known work compiled by Talmage entitled Latter-day Revelation; it is a 1930 abridged version of the church’s Doctrine and Covenants, apparently intended to replace the lengthier compilation. Latter-day Revelation was subsequently translated into several languages and was, for many years, the only version of the Doctrine and Covenants available in some countries. Yet, the English edition quietly disappeared soon after its release. In the preface to the present volume, Talmage scholar James P. Harris explains why and provides further context for Talmage’s treatment of the Thirteen Articles of Faith.
James P. Harris, M.A., sociology, State University of New York, works for the New York State Division of Child Support Enforcement in Albany. He filled an LDS mission to Brazil and now serves as the Sunday School President in the LDS Kingston Ward of the Newburgh Stake. He lives in Saugerties, NY with his son. The Essential James E. Talmage is his first book. Harris has also written the forward to The Articles of Faith, a reprint of Elder Talmage’s original 1899 edition.