Sign up for Meridian’s Free Newsletter, please CLICK HERE
Cover image via YouTube.
The most successful publication project, excepting the scriptures, undertaken by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the landmark book entitled Jesus the Christ: Subtitle: “A Study of the Messiah and His Mission According to the Holy Scriptures Both Ancient and Modern.”
The book was written by Elder James E. Talmage of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and published in 1915. It was commissioned in 1905 and closely supervised by President Joseph F. Smith, the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles. It is estimated that one million plus copies have been sold during this hundred year period and Jesus the Christ is the only approved book on the life of Christ in the Church missionary library.[i]
Jesus the Christ also contains a high profile assertion at the end of chapter 8 of a revelation declaring the exact date of the birthday of Jesus Christ—the most important birthday in the history of the world. This assertion is explained by Elder James E. Talmage in the text as being motivated by a revelatory insight into the full meaning of one verse, D&C 20:1.[ii]
Elder Talmage’s journal entries noting numerous meetings with President Joseph F. Smith, the First Presidency and the Twelve are now available online thanks to the 100th Anniversary celebrations, a lecture series at BYU and the Church History exhibit about the publication of Jesus the Christ. It is now much easier to document just how closely supervised, reviewed and approved the book was by the Brethren.[iii]
Caption: Joseph F. Smith, sixth President of the Church
Caption: Jesus the Christ is the only officially recommended book on the life of Christ in the Missionary Reference Library. This unique status is a testimony of this book’s importance in bringing together all four standard works within a presentation centered on the Lord Jesus Christ. This book also provided a pattern that has been used in publications that came after it.
Caption: Letter from the First Presidency in 1905 commissioning James E. Talmage to write the book Jesus the Christ.
Jesus the Christ: A Project with a Unique Design and an Unexcelled Development Team
For the first time in any book, in Jesus the Christ the pre- and post-mortal life of the Savior Jesus Christ was closely integrated with all of the canonized scriptures, plus many of the words of prophets of the Restoration. This book shows in a remarkable networked tapestry the restoration of “the plain and precious parts of the gospel of the lamb” that were lost from the Bible during the Great Apostasy. (1 Nephi 13: 32, 34, 40-41)[iv] And that tapestry is centered in the Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
Elder Talmage had been teaching a course in 1904-1906 on the ideas that were included in the book. President Smith had frequent interactions with him on this and other education projects for the University Sunday School, the precursor to the modern Institutes of Religion that were very important to Joseph F. Smith.[v]
Elder James E. Talmage was ordained an apostle in 1911. The First Presidency provided him a room in the Salt Lake Temple to write the book—the only example that we know of. The book was written in long hand, taking about seven months. The First Presidency and the Twelve held 18 meetings with Elder Talmage that were dedicated to carefully reviewing and approving each of the 42 chapters in the book.[vi]
The Importance of a Visionary Leader on a “Cutting-Edge Project”
In a software development project, the “visionary entrepreneur” is often also the chief inventor of key cutting-edge technology that gives the final product its great advantage in the marketplace. For example, search technology similar to Google might be developed by a team that can accelerate a complicated structured and unstructured query of a huge data base from taking 50 hours to only taking one minute, 3,000 times faster. This kind of speedup can enable a whole new paradigm for a particular software market.
By any measure, Jesus the Christ is a powerful example of how the “Christianity” paradigm can be expanded so that the meaning and power of all the scriptures from both ancient and modern prophets can be integrated into the life and gospel of Jesus Christ. Like the Book of Mormon, this book bears testimony to the honest seeker of truth “to the convincing of Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the eternal God, manifesting Himself unto all nations.” (Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, title page)
Also, with this expanded paradigm shift, the seemingly insoluble mystery of discovering the actual date of the Savior’s birth was proclaimed to have been solved through revelation, validated and approved by the Prophet Joseph F. Smith.
What leads one to believe that President Joseph F. Smith was involved down to the detailed level of writing and producing Jesus the Christ, regularly devoting much time and energy to supervise and monitor the long multiyear project?
Elder Talmage’s journal entries chronicle the First Presidency’s favorable opinion of Elder Talmage’s class outlines in 1904, the formal commission from the First Presidency in 1905, the long process of pondering and preparing for writing, then, after his call as an apostle in 1911, the almost 100% dedicated effort in writing the book in 1914 to early 1915, and the 18 separate meetings in 1915 with the First Presidency and the Twelve reviewing and approving the final prepublication manuscript. Finally, as Jesus the Christ went on sale, the First Presidency published a superlative endorsement of the book.[vii]
So, who instigated, directed, inspired, reviewed, approved and unequivocally endorsed the Jesus the Christ publication project and was its visionary leader? It certainly was President Joseph F. Smith.
Joseph F. Smith: Leading the Church “Out of Obscurity and Out of Darkness”
When Joseph F. Smith, son of Patriarch Hyrum Smith, became President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1901, the Church was an obscure sect considered by many or most people to NOT be a Christian religion. the Church had about 284,000 members in a few western states—mostly in Utah.[viii]
Joseph F. Smith was one of the most experienced Church leaders since its founder Joseph Smith, having been called as an apostle in 1866 and serving as a counselor in the First Presidency since 1867, He served under four Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff and Lorenzo Snow.[ix]
During Joseph F. Smith’s term as prophet, several key accomplishments paved the way for the Church to be known as a world-wide Christian Church and grow rapidly. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was moving “out of obscurity and out of darkness.” (D&C 1:30)
Joseph F. Smith was able to greatly reduce the enmity against the Church arising from the legal battle over polygamy with the U.S. government. More than ten years after statehood, the State of Utah finally received approval for its representatives to be seated in Washington, D.C. beginning with Reed Smoot in 1907.[x]
Joseph F. Smith started the building of new temples outside of Utah, Mesa, Arizona, outside the continental United States, Laie Hawaii, and outside of the United States, Alberta, Canada.
He was particularly responsible for the powerful teaching of the key doctrines of the redemption of the living and the dead that takes place in temples. This work of priesthood ordinances and family sealings “for time and for all eternity,” made possible for all people, living and dead, is unique to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
What was to become Section 138 of the Doctrine and Covenants on this subject, “The Vision of the Redemption of the Dead,” was received by President Joseph F. Smith and then accepted by the Church in Conference on October 4, 1918. President Smith’s died shortly thereafter on November 19, 1918. [xi]
Joseph F. Smith called three apostles who would become president of the Church. These three were Elder George Albert Smith (1903), Elder David O. McKay (1908), Elder Joseph Fielding Smith (1910). He also called Elder James E. Talmage, the author of Jesus the Christ, as an apostle in 1911. The influence and leadership from these apostles played key roles in the success and prosperity of the Church today.[xii]
Jesus the Christ, authored by Elder James E. Talmage and strongly promoted and closely supervised by Joseph F. Smith continues to have a powerful influence on members, non-members, missionaries, investigators, and the writers of LDS books, the new editions of the scriptures and associated gospel tools, from his day to ours.
Jesus the Christ’s publication and its success could not have happened without the strong initiative, support and leadership of Joseph F. Smith. He is certainly a powerful second witness to the truth of this book, which testifies of the Savior Jesus Christ, the modern-day restoration of His Gospel and the essential gifts of modern revelation through the Holy Ghost.[xiii]
Joseph F. Smith Brings the Church into Favor with the United States
By the time Joseph F. Smith was sustained as President of the Church in 1901, the 1890 Manifesto had been published by President Wilford Woodruff, the Salt Lake Temple had been dedicated in 1893 and Utah became a state in 1896. Still, Utah’s representatives in Washington D.C. had not been accepted by the Congress and the huge gulf between the U.S. and the Latter-day Saints seemed insurmountable. [xiv]
The enemies of the Church fully believed that the progress of the Church had been stopped and its future destroyed. After all, who could possibly change the family structure of a society to allow plural marriage and then try to change back to the standard of strict monogamy?
Reed Smoot’s hearing over taking his seat in the United States Senate lasted several years and President Joseph F. Smith testified in Washington D.C. for a long period of time. President Smith issued another and stronger Manifesto in 1904, expanding the penalties for supporting or practicing polygamy.
U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt then personally intervened in Reed Smoot’s behalf. Reed Smoot was seated and served honorably in the Senate for thirty years.
You may remember how earlier Presidents of the U.S. treated the saints and their appeals for help—nothing at all from the likes of Van Buren, Buchanan Et. al. I think this breakthrough was possible because Theodore Roosevelt was a dedicated government reformer as was his father. He fought against political machine politics and corrupt politicians, unions and businessmen alike.[xv]
New Temples Outside of Utah
In 1901 when Joseph F. Smith was ordained as Prophet, there were only four temples in the Church: St. George, Logan, Manti, and Salt Lake City—all in Utah.
During his presidency, Joseph F. Smith began planning and construction of three new temples, all outside of Utah, and one outside of the United States. Temples were built and dedicated in Laie, Hawaii, in Alberta, Canada and in Mesa, Arizona.
President Smith dedicated the site for building the temple and started construction in Hawaii in 1915. Construction began for the Alberta, Canada temple in 1913. Planning for the Mesa, Arizona temple began in 1908, followed by construction beginning in 1921 after Joseph F. Smith’s death in 1918.[xvi]
Caption: The Laie Hawaii temple was the first temple outside of Utah. President Joseph F. Smith went to Hawaii on his first mission at only 15 years of age.
Caption: The Cardston Alberta Canada temple was the first temple outside of the U.S.
Caption: Both of my parents, Howard Freestone Millett and Mildred Ethington Millett, are from Mesa, Arizona where they were married on August 21, 1945 in the Arizona Temple. My grandparents, William Howard Millett and Lillian Freestone Millett, sang a duet at the temple dedication in 1927 and were temple workers for 22 years.
Caption: My parents, Howard and Mildred Millett, were married in the Mesa, Arizona temple just before the ending of World War II. My father was a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
Caption: This family picture, taken in 1940, is about half way through Grandpa and Grandma Millett’s more than two decades of temple service. This picture includes my Uncle Teddy, who died of a heart condition in 1933 at the age of 11. His picture has been inserted into this picture on the back row to the right of my father. Front row: William Howard Millett – My Grandfather, Richard Leonard, Donald Glen, Ethel Mae and Grandmother Lillian Freestone Millett. Back row: Howard Freestone (my father), Teddy William (inserted in photo) and Lyal Erwin.
Rapid Growth of the Church is Rekindled
Under President Joseph F. Smith’s leadership the Church would grow from about 293,000 to about half a million members (496,000), a 70% increase. And then it would grow to over one million members by 1947, with over half of them living outside of Utah. [xx]
The enclosed graph shows the percent of growth of Church membership for 1900-2015. It graphs membership growth and is particularly interesting when it notes 5 percent growth or higher shown by spikes in the graph.
Three of the four years showing five percent or higher growth in the interval 1900-1950 are during the presidency of Joseph F. Smith: 1904, 1910, and 1914.
Caption: Growth of membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1900 to 2015. The x axis shows years and the y axis percent growth during that year.
The first point of note is 1904: An increase of almost 20,000 members in that year near the beginning of Joseph F. Smith’s presidency. This is in stark contrast to the 1886 entry with only 2,500 new members during the height of the conflict over the anti-polygamy laws.
The Second point of note is 1940: At the beginning of World War II, the Church grew by 7.4% to a total membership of 863,000 by the end of 1940 during the presidency of Heber J. Grant.
And, a third point of note is 1957: From 1957 to 1990, pretty much the date range of the Cold War, the membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints increased from 1,488,314 membership in 1957 to 7,761,179 in 1990. There are an amazing 16 out of the 34 years in that interval with greater than five percent growth, totaling 420 percent increase over just 34 years.
Surely the Lord prepared the way under previous Church Presidents so that missionaries and members would be able to find, teach, baptize and retain this large group of new members into the Church.
The great harvest of members joining the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continues in our day, but the Church is not now expanding at the absolutely breakneck speed of that 1957-1990 time period.
The Church is now (2018) over 16 million members strong. Only 28 years after 1990, we are now double the 7.8 million membership in 1990. It is almost as though we are at cruising altitude after a rapid acceleration and climb into the sky. We’ll wait and see if another period like that from 1957 to 1990 is about to begin.
Daniel’s prophesy of “the stone cut out without hands … that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth” is being fulfilled in dramatic fashion. The kingdom of God continues to roll forth from its modest beginnings. This is exemplified in the 420 percent growth in the membership of the Church in just 34 years from 1957 to 1990. (Daniel 2: 34-35)
President Smith and Elder Talmage’s Jesus the Christ Project: A Resounding Success!
We have listed many factors that came together to bring into the Church this great group of converts, many of whom would become strong, temple-worthy and sin- and-moral-mischief resistant multigenerational members. The book Jesus the Christ was architected to prepare and perfect the Saints so that the gospel could be preached and the dead redeemed. Certainly it has been and continues to be one of the important factors in the rolling forth of the kingdom of God on the earth.
I hope all of us will strive to read or listen more frequently to this great book—pointing the way, as it does, to Jesus Christ and his teachings, taking us into and across all the scriptures and bringing the powerful witness of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ and that His Church has been restored to the earth.
I think that President Joseph F. Smith and Elder James E. Talmage are smiling, knowing that their ambitious Jesus the Christ project has been a magnificent success. The Church and its members recognize its importance and continue to read, and ponder this inspired book’s content over 100 years after its initial publication.
[i] “James E. Talmage,” byuhigh.org, retrieved 9/20/2018.
“Teacher, Mining Geologist, Engineer, President, University of Utah (1894 to 1897), Writer and Apostle”
“Brigham Young Academy High School Class of 1880”
“His early predilection was for the sciences, and in 1882-1883 he took selected courses in chemistry and geology at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Though a special student and not a candidate for a degree, he passed during his single year of residence nearly all the examinations in the four-year course and later graduated; and in 1883-1884 he was engaged in advanced work at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland. He returned to Utah in the fall of 1884, in response to a summons from Principal Karl G. Maeser of Brigham Young Academy, and served as professor of Geology and Chemistry, with varied activities in other departments, in the Brigham Young Academy from 1884 to 1888. While still a member of the faculty, he was elected a member of the Board of Trustees of Brigham Young Academy. During his residence in Provo, he served successively as city councilman, alderman and justice of the peace.”
“One of his daughters told this story about her father: “James E. Talmage was very intent on getting an education even to the point that he got his doctorate at the age of twenty-one. He was just so busy that he hadn’t had a chance to do anything to look for a wife, but he knew he should. So he went into the mountains after fasting and praying that he would be able to know whom he should marry. He felt that the Lord had the big picture. There he had a clear impression in his mind of a girl who lived in a nearby small town. So he went to her home. When she came to the door he knew she was the one, and shortly thereafter they were married. On June 14, 1888, Talmage and Mary May Booth married at the Manti Temple. She was the daughter of Richard Thornton Booth and Elsie Edge Booth.”
[James and Mary had eight children, birthdates from 1889 to 1911.]
“James E. Talmage replaced acting president Joseph T. Kingsbury as President of the University [of Utah] in 1894, and served admirably for three years. In 1897, Dr. Kingsbury was once again appointed as President, this time in his own right. Kingsbury led the school for the next two decades. In 1897, when James E. Talmage resigned the presidency, he retained the Chair of Geology; and in 1907, ten years later, he resigned the professorship to follow the practical work of mining geology, for which his services were in great demand. In 1891, he had received the Bachelor of Science degree, and in 1912 the honorary degree of Doctor of Science, from his old alma mater, Lehigh University. In 1890 he was given the honorary degree of Doctor of Science and Didactics by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and in 1896 was awarded the Doctor of Philosophy degree by Illinois Wesleyan University for nonresident work. On December 7, 1911, James E. Talmage was appointed and sustained to be one of the Apostles, … under the hands of President Joseph F. Smith, assisted by his counselors and members of the Council of the Twelve.”
“Dr. Talmage was the author of many scientific and theological works, among which are: “First Book of Nature” (1888); “Domestic Science” (1891); “Tables for Blowpipe Determination of Minerals” (1899); “The Great Salt Lake, Present and Past” (1900); “The Articles of Faith” (1899), a comprehensive exposition of the doctrines of the Church; “The Great Apostasy” (1909); “The House of the Lord” (1912), a discussion of holy sanctuaries, ancient and modern; “The Story of Mormonism” (1907); lectures delivered at Michigan, Cornell and other universities; “The Philosophical Basis of Mormonism” (1915); “Jesus the Christ” (1915); “The Vitality of Mormonism” (1919), and numerous pamphlets and contributions to periodicals.”
“Bishop Orson F. Whitney, author of the “History of Utah”, said of him: “Professionally a scientist and a preceptor, with gifts and powers equaled by few, Dr. Talmage is also a writer and speaker of great ability and skill. He is an absolute master of English, both by pen and tongue, and possesses a musical eloquence of marvelous fluency and precision. His style of oratory, though not stentorian, is wonderfully impressive, and his well stored mind, capacious memory, quick recollection and remarkable readiness of speech render him a beau-ideal instructor, in public or in private.””
Brian W. Ricks, “James E. Talmage and the Doctrine of the Godhead,”
“The quest to understand God continues in the hearts and minds of people across the world. … Jesus Christ said, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God” and that “if men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves.” Craig L. Blomberg, a New Testament professor at Denver Seminary, wrote, “Christians have usually insisted that a correct formulation of the doctrines of God and Christ is important because the possibility of eternal life depends on it.” For The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the effort to describe the Godhead has been a gradual process. It began when Joseph Smith entered the Sacred Grove in the spring of 1820. Subsequent leaders slowly added to Latter-day Saint understanding as it was received through revelation. Such leaders include Brigham Young, John Taylor, Orson Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, Joseph F. Smith, and many others.
“This article explores the influence of Elder James E. Talmage on Latter-day Saint theology with regard to this sacred topic. It provides a brief history of LDS teachings on the subject from the time that Joseph Smith entered the Sacred Grove in 1820 until the late 1890s, when James Talmage first started writing doctrinal books at the request of the First Presidency. Elder Talmage made three major contributions from 1894 to 1916: he wrote Articles of Faith, Jesus the Christ, and the doctrinal exposition “The Father and the Son,” each in response to a specific request from the President of the Church, [emphasis added] and each was then published under the name of the Church. James Talmage was not the only individual speaking on the topic at the time, but for the purposes of this paper, his teachings will be highlighted.”
Elise Reynolds, “The Story behind the Story,” 14 Sep 2015.
“In the century since its publication, Jesus the Christ has become a classic work among Latter-day Saints. For 100 years, the book has never been out of print, going through numerous reprints and editions in multiple languages and formats. It has been used as a course of study for priesthood and Relief Society classes, is one of the texts in the approved missionary library, and has contributed to readers’ doctrinal understanding of the Savior the world over. It is a unique book not only in terms of its content and influence but also in terms of its own story, a story that deserves retelling during this centennial anniversary.”
“Missionary Reference Library,” Deseret Book, Retrieved 6/25/2017.
Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage
Our Search for Happiness by M. Russell Ballard
True to the Faith with message from the First Presidency
Our Heritage: A Brief History of the Church…
[ii] David A. Bednar, “Bear up your Burdens with Ease,” April General Conference, 2014.
“Today is April 6. We know by revelation that today is the actual and accurate date of the Savior’s birth. April 6 also is the day on which The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized. (See D&C 20:1)”
RPMNote: Notice the careful wording of Elder Bednar’s statement. The meanings of the adjectives “actual” and “accurate” may be used to better understand the revelatory process Elder James E. Talmage followed, closely supervised by President Joseph F. Smith, in his discovery of the Lord’s birth date.
“actual” – real, existing in fact, emphasize an important aspect of something.
The Lord was actually born on a real date; He is not a mythical personage.
“accurate” – within a day, keeping in mind that the Hebrew day begins on the preceding evening, even as we have Christmas pageants on Christmas Eve because that is when the shepherds saw the angels and found the newborn Savior. As for the year, it is implied to be 1 BC by D&C 20:1, that is, that was the year which occurred 1,830 years before AD 1830.
David A. Bednar, “The Spirit of Revelation,”April 2011 General Conference.
“The spirit of revelation typically functions as thoughts and feelings that come into our minds and hearts by the power of the Holy Ghost.”
“Most frequently, revelation comes in small increments over time and is granted according to our desire, worthiness, and preparation.”
“The Lord withheld marvels from me, and showed me the truth, line upon line …, until He made me to know the truth from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet.” (Joseph F. Smith, April 1900 General Conference)
“It is not by marvelous manifestations unto us that we shall be established in the truth, but it is by humility and faithful obedience to the commandments and laws of God.” (Joseph F. Smith, April 1900 General Conference)
“Sometimes the spirit of revelation will operate immediately and intensely, other times subtly and gradually, and often so delicately you may not even consciously recognize it. But regardless of the pattern whereby this blessing is received, the light it provides will illuminate and enlarge your soul, enlighten your understanding (see Alma 5:7; 32:28), and direct and protect you and your family.”
If Elder Talmage and President Smith are wrong, ignorant, uninformed, not historians or deceived, then there would be an unavoidable feeling of disappointment in Elder Talmage and also in President Smth, who had extensive interaction with Elder Talmage all along the way. The question might be asked if Elder Talmage and President Smith were not just wrong, but very wrong to even think about proposing the April 6, 1 BC date: If that were so, then how could you believe them in their extensive teachings on finding truth, discerning truth, and not being deceived?
Follow up research for the interested reader:
By studying carefully the clues that I think Elder Talmage gives us in the last two sections, and the footnotes and end notes of Chapter 8, perhaps we can learn more how the “line upon line” revelation might have occurred,
“Jesus the Christ,” The Gutenberg project, Gutenberg.org, 1922 edition.
What about footnote #247 just after the partial quote of D&C 20:1?
Why go to “Note 6” after comparing the two verses?
“Doc. and Cov. 20:1; compare 21:3. Note 6, end of chapter.”
What about footnote #253?
Why the reference to 21:2? The two verses don’t seem to be easily compared.
“Doc. and Cov. 20:1; compare 21:2”
Ronald P. Millett, “Did Jesus Christ Live Exactly 12,048 Days?” Meridian Magazine, July 16, 2017.
“The Book of Mormon gives exact calendar dates for the birth and the death of Jesus Christ which correspond to the length of His life being 12,048 days, exactly 33 years from Passover to Passover. This value supports His birth date of April 6, 1 BC and His death date of April 1, 33 AD, with the resurrection date on April 3, 33 AD. These dates are dismissed by most scholars, both LDS and non-LDS, mainly because of the current historical records and data that Herod the Great died in April of 4 BC.”
Ronald P. Millett, “Why So Bold a Statement? Elder James E. Talmage and April 6,” Meridian Magazine, November 12, 2012.
“Apostle, scientist and scholar James E. Talmage added a belief statement to the Church’s doctrinal list in his landmark book Jesus the Christ when he declared: “We believe that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea, April 6, B.C. 1.” Instead of a modest statement supporting the Dionysian designation of 1 BC as the year zero of the Christian era via the April 6 BC 1 date; instead of a note in the preface or a footnote in his chapter 8 discussion of the birth of the Savior; instead of saying “it seemed to me that” or “I believe after study and contemplation that,” instead of any of those options, Elder Talmage boldly declared that “we believe” in April 6, BC 1 as the birth date of the Redeemer of the world.”
“So back to the original question: Why so bold a statement by Elder Talmage? It could only happen, I am sure, if he felt very strongly that he had been inspired in his interpretation of D&C 20:1 as a clear indicator of an April 6, BC 1 birth date of Jesus Christ. It would have to be a powerful impression for his statement to rise from “it seems to me” in a footnote to the ‘we believe’ almost ‘catechism level’ in the main text that implies an application of this belief statement to the whole Church. He surely would have had to successfully defend this inspiration to the First Presidency and the Twelve as they reviewed his book in those 18 separate sessions. Otherwise, in my opinion, it would not have been included in the final publication of the book.”
[iii] “Joseph F. Smith,” Understandingmormonism.org, retrieved 9/20/2018.
- Scott Lloyd, “Church Classic Jesus the Christ Published 100 Years Ago,” Church News, September 11, 2015.
“Included in the BYU exhibit is the July 18, 1905, letter to Brother Talmage from President Joseph F. Smith and his counselors in the First Presidency, President John R. Winder and Anthon H. Lund. It reads: ‘Dear Brother: We should be pleased to have you print and publish in book form the course of lectures being delivered by you before the University Sunday School on the subject, Jesus the Christ, believing that they will prove a valuable acquisition to our Church literature and that the proposed work should be placed within the reach of Church members and general readers.’
“It is the only book in Church literature to have been written in longhand in a temple, directly commissioned by the First Presidency. Today, 100 years after its publication, Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage is still in wide use by Latter-day Saints and is what scholars reckon to be the best-selling doctrinal work in Church history.”
Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and Thomas Wayment, “James E. almage’s Jesus the Christ Lecture Series,” BYU, May 11, 2015.
[iv] 1 Nephi 13:40-41:
“And the angel spake unto me, saying: These last records, which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved. And they must come according to the words which shall be established by the mouth of the Lamb; and the words of the Lamb shall be made known in the records of thy seed, as well as in the records of the twelve apostles of the Lamb; wherefore they both shall be established in one; for there is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth.
[v] Elise Reynolds, “Jesus the Christ: The Story behind he Story,” history.lds.org, 14 Sep 2015.
“In order to teach his course on Christ years before, Talmage had prepared lecture outlines for each session. As he worked in the temple, he drew from these outlines and the research he had conducted for the class to write the book.”
“On April 19, 1915, just over seven months after beginning his draft, he completed the manuscript. ‘Had it not been that I was privileged to do this work in the Temple it would be at present far from completion,’ he wrote. ‘I have felt the inspiration of the place and have appreciated the privacy and quietness incident thereto.’ His son John R. Talmage wrote, ‘James’ first words as he entered his home that night were to tell [his wife] that the basic writing was finished, and to tell also his feeling that this was the outstanding book of all he had written, or would ever write.’”
“With the writing complete, the editing process began. Chapter by chapter, Talmage read the manuscript to the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The reading took place over 18 sessions, the last chapter being read on June 24, 1915.”
“The history of Jesus the Christ is a remarkable story for a remarkable book. Jesus the Christ is the first study on the life of the Savior to be written by a Latter-day Saint. It was written by request of the First Presidency and is the only book to be written in the temple. It is unique in its scope, covering not only the mortal life of the Savior but also his premortal and postmortal existence. It has contributed to doctrinal understanding and increased faith in Christ among its readers. In the official announcement of its upcoming publication, the First Presidency wrote, ‘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.’ One hundred years after it was first published, that invitation still stands.”
[vi] James P, Harris, ed., “Essential James E. Talmage, Chapter 24: Jesus the Christ,” Signature Book’s Library, Retrieved 7/3/2017.
“May 4th, 1915—At meeting of the First Presidency and Twelve in the Temple, I read three chapters of the book. At each of the meetings thus far held for this purpose, all members of the First Presidency and all of the Twelve who are not absent from the city on appointed duties were present. We have now read nine of the 43 chapters…[Chapters 7-9. This reading would include chapter 8 on the birth of Christ and Elder Talmage notes that all members of the First Presidency and Twelve were present with the exception of the members of the Twelve on special assignments.]”
[vii] James P, Harris, ed., “Essential James E. Talmage, Chapter 24: Jesus the Christ,” Signature Book’s Library, Retrieved 7/3/2017.
James E. Talmage journal entries:
Sept. 14, 1914—During the school periods of 1904-1905, and 1905-1906, I delivered a series of lectures entitled “Jesus The Christ” under the auspices of the University Sunday School. The sessions were held during Sunday forenoons in Barratt Hall. I received written appointment from the First Presidency to embody the lectures in a book to be published for the use of the Church in general. Work on this appointment has been suspended from time to time owing to other duties being imposed upon me. Lately, however, I have been asked to prepare the matter for the book with as little delay as possible. Experiences demonstrated that neither in my comfortable office nor in the convenient study room at home can I be free from visits and telephone calls. The consequence of this condition and in view of the importance of the work, I had been directed to occupy a room in the Temple where I will be free from interruption. I began the work in the Temple today and hope that I shall be able to devote the necessary time thereto…
Nov. 19, 1914—Spent some time at the office of the First Presidency. During the afternoon attended a meeting of the First Presidency and certain invited members of the Deseret Sunday School Union Board. At this meeting I read aloud several chapters of the book, “Jesus The Christ” now in process of preparation. The purpose being to ascertain whether the book would be properly suited for the lower or higher grades in the theological department. As was intended the work is being prepared for our people in general and is not adapted for use as a textbook for immature students. It was decided by the First Presidency that the work be completed of the same scope and plan as here-to-fore followed, and that the theological department of the Deseret Sunday School Union provide their own outline of the students of the first years work in said departments. In connection with the matter of the book, it may be well to record here that since my beginning on the writing September 14th last, I have devoted every spare hour to that labor and have at present in written form though not all in revised condition, twenty chapters. According to present indications, the work of the book will be interrupted through other appointments already made. The purpose is, however, to bring it to completion at the earliest possible time, though with some relief from the intense pressure under which the writing has been here-to-fore done…”
“OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT [for sale of new book now available]
“Within the month of September, 1915, there will be issued from the Deseret News press a book entitled Jesus the Christ, written by Elder James E. Talmage of the Council of the Twelve. This important work has been prepared by appointment, and is to be published by the Church. The field of treatment is indicated on the title-page as “A study of the Messiah and his mission, according to Holy Scriptures both ancient and modern.”
“The book is more than a “Life of Christ” in the ordinary acceptation of that title, as it not only treats at length the narrative of our Lord’s life and ministry in the flesh, together with his death, resurrection, and ascension, but deals also with his antemortal existence and Godship, and with his ministry in the resurrected state, both of old and in the current dispensation. 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” to 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. We commend it especially for use in our Church schools, as also for the advanced theological classes in Sunday schools and priesthood quorums, for the instruction of our missionaries, and for general reading.
“JOSEPH F. SMITH,
ANTHON H. LUND,
CHARLES W. PENROSE,
“First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah, Aug. 13, 1915”
[viii] “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Utah,” Wikipedia.org, retrieved 9/21/2018.
[ix] M. Russell Ballard, “The Vision of the Redemption of the Dead,” October 2018 General Conference.
“On July 1, 1866, at the age of 27, Joseph F. had his life forever changed when he was ordained an Apostle by Brigham Young. In October the following year, he filled a vacancy in the Council of the Twelve.5 He served as a counselor to Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and Lorenzo Snow before becoming President himself in 1901.”
“Chronology of the First Presidency (LDS Church),” Wikipedia.org, retrieved 9/21/2018.
[x] “Smoot Expulsion,” United States Senate, Retrieved 10/25/2018.
[xi] M. Russell Ballard, “The Vision of the Redemption of the Dead,” October 2018 General Conference.
“I testify that the vision President Joseph F. Smith received is true. I bear witness that every person can come to know it is true.”
“In October 1918, 100 years ago, President Joseph F. Smith received a glorious vision. After almost 65 years of dedicated service to the Lord in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and just a few weeks before his death on November 19, 1918, he sat in his room pondering Christ’s atoning sacrifice and reading the Apostle Peter’s description of the Savior’s ministry in the spirit world after His Crucifixion.”
“Those who do not receive this knowledge in this life will surely come to know its truthfulness when everyone will arrive in the spirit world. There, all will love and praise God and the Lord Jesus Christ for the great plan of salvation and the blessing of the promised Resurrection when body and spirit will once again be reunited, never to be separated again.”
RPMNote: Quotes from Joseph F. Smith teachings on the spirit world and how our loved ones can interact with us here in mortality.
Joseph F. Smith, “Gospel Doctrine,” “Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith: compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith,” 1919, p. 548.
“Nature of Ministering Angels.”
“We are told by the Prophet Joseph Smith, that ‘there are no angels who minister to this earth but those who do belong or have belonged to it.’ Hence, when messengers are sent to minister to the inhabitants of this earth, they are not strangers, but from the ranks of our kindred, friends, and fellow-beings and fellow-servants.”
“Our fathers and mothers, brothers, sisters and friends who have passed away from this earth, having been faithful, and worthy to enjoy these rights and privileges, may have a mission given them to visit their relatives and friends upon the earth again, bringing from the divine Presence messages of love, of warning, or reproof and instruction, to those whom they had learned to love in the flesh ….”
Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Ministry of Angels,” October 2008 General Conference.
“God never leaves us alone, never leaves us unaided in the challenges that we face.”
[xii] “List of Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles,” wikipedia.org, Retrieved 9/21/2018.
[xiii] “But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” (Matthew 18:16)
Loren C. Dunn, “Witnesses,” October 1995 General Conference.
“The law of witnesses has always been a part of the Lord’s work on earth. This law states that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Cor. 13:1; see also Deut. 17:6; Deut. 19:15; Matt. 18:15–16; John 8:12–29). This witness confirms that certain events took place and that God-given doctrine and principles are true.”
[xiv] “Mormon History: Persecution Period,” retrieved 9/15/2018.
“The Manifesto and the End of Plural Marriage,” lds.org.topics, retrieved 9/15/2018.
“1896-1945 Stability and Growth,” historyofmormonism.com/mormon history, retrieved 9/15/2018.
“Joseph F. Smith, nephew to the Prophet Joseph Smith became Church president in 1901. He was the first Mormon president born a Mormon and the last to have met Joseph Smith. He and his successor, Heber J. Grant, oversaw a period of increasing national presence and respect, though still coupled with many challenges. They also oversaw the purchase and preservation of many important historical sites. Problems continued with the Federal Government, and many Mormons found it difficult to obtain public office. In 1898, B. H. Roberts of the Quorum of the Seventy, had been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, but the Congress banned him from taking his seat. In 1903, Reed Smoot, an apostle, was elected to the U.S. Senate. His election started a two year trial, as he attempted to take his seat. Ultimately, most Mormon Church leaders were subpoenaed to appear before Congress. President Joseph F. Smith was questioned at length. At issue was the continuation of the practice of polygamy by some Mormons, and fears that Reed Smoot would not adequately separate his religious and political obligations. Theodore Roosevelt himself came to the aid of Smoot, who was a Republican. In 1904, President Smith issued a second Manifesto, forbidding polygamy Church-wide. This caused two Mormon apostles, John W. Taylor and Matthais F. Cowley to resign from being apostles. Taylor was excommunicated from the Church after he again entered into a polygamous marriage. Although regretable, the resignation of these two apostles showed the government that the Church was serious about ending the practice of polygamy. Ultimately, Smoot took his seat and served in the U.S. Senate admirably for nearly thirty years.”
[xv] “The Life of Theodore Roosevelt,” National Park Service, Retrieved 9/25/2018.
Theodore Roosevelt, “Quotes on corruption,” AZQuotes.com, Retrieved 9/25/2018.
“Compromise is so often used in a bad sense that it is difficult to remember that properly it merely describes the process of reaching an agreement. Naturally there are certain subjects on which no man can compromise. For instance, there must be no compromise under any circumstances with official corruption, and of course no man should hesitate to say as much.”
“No man who is corrupt, no man who condones corruption in others, can possibly do his duty by the community.”
[xvi] Jannalee Rosner, “The Miraculous Story Behind the Laie Hawaii Temple,” LDSLiving.com, Retrieved 1/11/2018.
“Raising funds for the temple among the scattered Hawaiian Saints was a challenge that was overcome with faith and ingenuity. The Saints in Hawaii participated in a variety of fund-raising projects, including holding concerts and creating and selling mats, fans, and other craft items at local bazaars. Even though the Saints were already sacrificing a great deal for the temple, mission president Samuel E. Woolley noted that tithing paid by Hawaiian Saints had increased by nearly one-third during this time.”
“Several features of the site presented problems for the workers on the temple. For one, the ground was unstable coral and sand, necessitating a large excavation to provide solid footings for the building. Because large machinery was not available, the entire excavation had to be done using picks, shovels, and blasting powder. The remote location of the temple made it difficult to obtain building materials. Crushed lava and coral were added to the concrete that was used to form the entire edifice.
“Even with this innovation, construction often had to wait while the contractors tried to locate necessary materials. At one point, when construction was at a standstill due to lack of lumber, temple contractor Ralph Woolley prayed for help in obtaining the needed supplies. Two days later, a freight ship became stranded on a nearby coral reef during a severe storm. The captain offered the Saints his cargo of lumber if they would help him unload his ship. The Saints agreed, and work on the temple was resumed.”
[xvii] “Cardston Alberta Canada Temple,” mormonnewsroom.org, retrieved 10/11/2018.
[xviii] Mesa, Arizona Temple,” lds.org, retrieved 10/11/2018.
[xix] Lillian and Howard Millett with Phyllis Millett Gardner, “Through these Years: Howard and Lillian Millett: A Family History,” Mesa, Arizona, 1988. p 163.
Richard L. Millett, “Faith, Devotion and Commitment,” 1990.
“A Chronological History surrounding the life of Alma Millett, His Father Artimus Millett, His Brother Joseph, and Their Family 1834-1886. An account of the events occurring during their lifetimes and their faithfulness through hardship which has blessed a large posterity.” “Written and Compiled by Richard L. Millett, July 29, 1990.
[xx] “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Membership History,” Wikipedia.org, retrieved 9/16/2018.