[Book Review] Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage

Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage
Photo Credit: Amazon.com

Jesus the Christ
by
James E. Talmage

Blurb (Credit: Amazon.com):

Considered one of the all-time great classics of LDS literature, Jesus the Christ is a comprehensive look into the life and ministry of the Savior. Written at the request of the First Presidency by the Apostle James E. Talmage, and penned from an office inside the Salt Lake Temple, this volume is more than a simple outline of the Savior’s life. It presents a far-reaching view of the Savior-including His life in the flesh, His antemortal existence, and His activities across time as the world’s Redeemer. Allow this unparalleled work to enhance your knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ as it magnifies your understanding of the scriptures.

My Review:

Every once in awhile a book comes along that changes your life. As you read it, the words influence you so much that you will never think the same way about the subject again; you will never be the same. A few books I’ve read in my lifetime have made me feel this way. Believing Christ by Stephen Robinson was one, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo was another. And today I add Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage. It’s hefty, for sure! The edition I read has 793 pages, and it is not an easy read. It took me months to read. James E. Talmage was a very intelligent man, and his vocabulary is off the charts. I had to look up the definitions of many words. It’s strange, because at first it took me forever, but by the end I was in the groove, and his style and language became easier to understand. This is the most comprehensive book on the life and mission of Jesus Christ that I have ever seen. It’s incredible. It begins with why we need a Savior. Then it takes you through many of the prophets of the Old Testament that prophesied about the coming of a Savior. A Messiah. It delves into the lives of Mary and Joseph and the birth of Christ in Bethlehem. Talmage takes you step by step through the New Testament and the life of Jesus Christ here on earth. He is very comprehensive in his writing. He discusses Christ’s teachings and miracles. I loved learning about life in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas; who the different groups of people are and how they came to be. The events take on different meanings when you know more about the context in which they happened. Sometimes when I’m reading the parables of Christ I understand their meanings and sometimes I don’t. This book explains them all, and it helped me so much. He goes into detail about the symbolism in the writings of the New Testament, which, once again, is very helpful in finding new meaning in the words on the page. One thing in particular that helped me was learning about the difference between the Pharisees and the Sadducees and scribes, the Samaritans and the Jews. It was also extremely helpful to learn about the structure of the Roman government in Jerusalem, and who was in power over what. The detail Talmage puts into his description of Jesus Christ’s Atoning sacrifice helps you to understand the importance of this moment. 

 Christ’s agony in the garden is unfathomable by the finite mind, both as to intensity and cause. The thought that He suffered through fear of death is untenable. Death to Him was preliminary to resurrection and triumphal return to the Father from whom He had come, and to a state of glory even beyond what He had before possessed; and, moreover, it was within His power to lay down His life voluntarily. He struggled and groaned under a burden such as no other being who has lived on earth might even conceive as possible. It was not physical pain, nor mental anguish alone, that caused Him to suffer such torture as to produce an extrusion of blood from every pore; but a spiritual agony of soul such as only God was capable of experiencing. No other man, however great his powers of physical or mental endurance, could have suffered so; for his human organism would have succumbed, and syncope would have produced unconsciousness and welcome oblivion. In that hour of anguish Christ met and overcame all the horrors that Satan, ‘the prince of this world’ could inflict.

Next, Talmage takes you through Jesus’ arrest and trials before Herod and Pilate. Then he thoroughly discusses Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. At the end, he goes into some detail into the lives of the eleven apostles and what occurred after they were all gone, and he even goes a little into the dark ages. 

This is an amazing book! It takes a long time to get through it, but it’s worth it. It was written by a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes known as Mormon or LDS), but anyone wanting a better understanding of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ will benefit from reading this book. I promise it is worth the effort. Your understanding and love for the Savior will grow tenfold. Reading this book changed my perceptions and increased my love and appreciation for my Savior, Jesus the Christ. 

Rating: PG (Clean)

Recommendation: 16 years-old and up. (A younger person could read it, as it is taken from the Bible, but Talmage’s language is difficult to understand because of his awesome vocabulary, so I think 16 and up are more likely to understand it.)