The Essential James E. Talmage

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A collection of both the popular and lesser-known works of James E. Talmage, including previously unseen diary entries.

Classics in Mormon Thought Series, No. 5

March, 1997

SKU: 1-56085-018-3 Categories: , Tags: , , Author: James P. HarrisProduct ID: 1345


Latter-day Saints were stunned in 1911 to learn that the interior of the Salt Lake temple had been secretly photographed and that perpetrators were demanding a $100,000 ransom for the photos. As church leaders considered their options, former University of Utah president James E. Talmage proposed that the First Presidency commission its own photos, which they did, authorizing Talmage to write his landmark House of the Lord. As the manuscript and photos were being readied for press, the presidency appointed the forty-nine-year-old educator to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.

This was not the first time that Talmage had been of service to his church. As a geology professor, he was consulted about underground ventilation options for the Salt Lake Tabernacle and about the scientific evidence for organic evolution, which he cautiously promoted. At the church president’s request, Talmage also delivered a series of lectures on church theology which would form the basis for his later influential books.

Not that Talmage was unaccustomed to controversy. When his book, The Articles of Faith, first appeared, he was accused of “apostasy” and narrowly escaped church sanction. When he read from an advance text of Jesus the Christ in general conference, some leaders objected to the doctrinal content and had the offending paragraphs excised from the published conference proceedings.

Scholars have noted that much of Talmage’s work reflects the thinking of his day, particularly in his reliance on Frederick Farrar’s Life of Christ and in his portrayal of a so-called “Victorian Jesus.” But as James P. Harris observes, Talmage also “supplemented the biblical narrative with modern revelation” and produced “a source of information and inspiration to church members worldwide.”

The Essential James E. Talmage includes some of the apostle’s lesser-known works. For Talmage’s more popular writings, the editor has included relevant diary entries and material omitted from later editions. Readers will appreciate the process by which these seminal works were produced and the character of the man who composed them.

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.

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1 review for The Essential James E. Talmage

  1. Benchmark Book News

    Sales of this book have been brisk, as interest is very high in this popular and respected twentieth-century LDS apostle, scientist, theologian, and writer. Many of Talmage’s works are considered classics in the Church today, such as Jesus the Christ, The Articles of Faith, and The House of the Lord. What is not widely known is that these books and the circumstances surrounding them were not without some controversy. The editor provides fascinating facts about Talmage and his writings and presents several less widely known, but significant, works, and offers, in addition to the text, diary entries relating to manuscripts, material omitted from later editions (worth the price of the book alone), and other supplementary material. Some of the book’s entries include “Science and Religion,” “The Effects of Narcotics upon the System” (experience firsthand), “The Theory of Evolution,” “Items on Polygamy—Omitted from the Published Book,” and “Calling and Ordination to the Apostleship.”

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