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, they 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 endorsed. At the church president’s request, Tamage delivered a series of lectures on church theology which formed 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 and had 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 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” in producing “a source of information and inspiration to church members worldwide.”
The Essential James E. Talmage includes some of the apostle’s lesser-known works, and, for his more popular writings, representative diary entries relative to the manuscripts, material omitted from later editions, and other supplementary material. Readers will come to appreciate the process by which these signal works were produced and the character of the man who composed them.
on the cover:
The Essential James E. Talmage celebrates one of Mormonism’s preeminent theologians. Elder Talmage served as an apostle for twenty-two years and wrote such widely-known books as The Great Apostasy and The House of the Lord. He was a serious scientist, with his own thoughts on evolution and the antiquity of human beings. In this volume he tells his own story through selected lectures and journal entries featuring his views on science and religion and the theological discussions that preceded The Articles of Faith and Jesus the Christ. His counsel that church members stay “up-to-date” is reflected in his own writing. Selections in this volume include:
“The Earth and Man”
“The Eternity of Sex”
“The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven”
“The Methods and Motives of Science”
“The Son of Man”
“An Unusual Accompaniment to a Baptism”
“The three kingdoms of widely differing glories are themselves organized on an orderly plan of gradation…Thus the innumerable degrees of merit amongst mankind are provided for in an infinity of graded glories…It is reasonable to believe, in the absence of difect revelation…that, in accordance with God’s plan of eternal progression, advancement from grade to grade within any kingdom, and from kingdom to kingdom, will be provided for. But if the recipients of a lower glory be enabled to advance, surely the intelligences of higher rank will not be stopped in their progress; and thus we may conclude, that degrees and grades will ever characterize the Kingdoms of our God. Eternity is progressive; perfection is relative; the essential feature of God’s living purpose is its associated power of eternal increase.”
—from The Articles of Faith, first edition
about the editor: James P. Harris, M.A., sociology, State University of New York (currently attending the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy), is a Confidential Investigator for the New York State Department of Social Services. He filled an LDS mission to Brazil and now serves as a member of the Albany New York State Young Men’s presidency. He lives in Saugerites, New York, with his wife Diana and family.
The Essential James E. Talmage
Edited by James Harris
Salt Lake City
dedication: To the memory of James Edward Talmage, 1862-1933
Jacket Design: Randall Smith Associates
(c) 1997 Signature Books, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Signature Books is a registered trademark of Signature Books, Inc.
Printed in the United States of America
Printed on acid free paper
2001 2000 99 98 97 6 5 4 3 2 1
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Talmage, James Edward, 1862-1933.
The essential James E. Talmage / edited by James Harris.
1. Mormon Church—Doctrine. 2.Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints—Doctrines. I. Harris, James. II. Title.
Acknowledgements [see below]
Editor’s Introduction [see below]
01 – “An Unusual Accompaniment to a Baptism”
02 – Science and Religion
03 – “The Effects of Narcotics upon the System”
04 – “The Birth and Growth of the Earth”
05 – “The Theory of Evolution”
06 – “My Study of Astrology”
07 – Four Blessings Given to James E. Talmage
08 – “The Articles of Faith”
09 – The Articles of Faith, First Edition
10 – “Items on Polygamy—Omitted from the Published Book”
11 – “The Methods and Motives of Science”
12 – “An Inspiring Thought”
13 – “Lord of All”
14 – Calling and Ordination to the Apostleship
15 – “The Significance of Easter”
16 – “The Need for Modern Revelation”
17 – “Our Bodies, Gifts from God”
18 – “A Greeting to the Missionaries”
19 – “The Honor and Dignity of Priesthood”
20 – “Latter-day Saints and the Bible”
21 – “The Eternity of Sex”
22 – “The Son of Man”
23 – “The Philosophical Basis of ‘Mormonism'”
24 – Jesus the Christ
25 – “A Marvelous Work and a Wonder”
26 – “A Fulfilent of Prophecy”
27 – “The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven”
28 – “There Are Four States, Conditions, or Stages in the Advancement of the Individual Soul”
29 – “‘Mormonism’ and the War”
30 – “Judiciary System of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”
31 – The Lord’s Tenth
32 – “The Purpose in the Creation of the World”
33 – “The Book of Mormon and the Book of Isaiah”
34 – “Idolatry and Adultery”
35 – “Beward of Deception”
36 – The Evolution Controversy
37 – “The Earth and Man”
38 – “The Need for Religion”
39 – “Timeliness”
40 – “Priesthood—Decline of the Primitive Church”
[p.xi]Many people deserve my heartfelt thanks. My wife, Diana, merits special mention for being patient and allowing me the time to work uninterrupted. Thanks to my stepchildren Amy, Melanie, and Matthew, who wondered why I spent so much time in the basement, and to James Jr., who kept me going, in his own inimitable way.
My mother, Alice Harris, helped make this project much easier. My father, Philip Harris, made sure I read The House of the Lord before I went to the temple. Both provided me with pocket sized editions of Jesus the Christ and The Articles of Faith for my mission and have supported me in various ways. My mission president, Helio da Rocha Camargo, included these two books in our daily mission study plan.
Many friends in the Kingston Ward, Albany New York Stake, kept me on my toes, including Larry Kolts, Hamlet Montero, Rick Healy, Ken and Dawn Hill, Mary Ellen Bafumo, Lois Nichols, Alan and Kathryn Burgess, and Charles and Margie Seager-Olsen. Special thanks to David Avenius, for having faith in me and for opening windows of opportunity for so many. Chester and Beverly Hamilton provided a refuge for me and many others. They will always be remembered, as will members of the Lake Placid Branch and friends from the Glens Falls Ward.
My sister Renee spent considerable time and money at the Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, while her husband, Bill, and children Philip, Marie, and Garrett supported me on research trips to Provo, Utah. My brother Randy and his wife, Tami, and family kindly gave me a room for a week while in Utah. Thanks also to Ripsey Bandurian.
I am grateful for my other brother and sister, Brenda and Steven, and their families, for their prayers, support, and concern. The Emerick family, John, Anne, David, and Daniel, generously offered me transportation at a much needed time.
Special thanks to the James E. Talmage family, especially John R. Talmage, the last living son of James Talmage, as well as to Mary [p.xii]Sanderson and James Talmage, grandchildren of James Talmage. Garrett Steenblik helped me locate members of the Talmage family.
Elder Carlos Asay, president of the Salt Lake temple and emeritus member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, allowed me and my brother and sister-in-law to visit the Talmage Room in the Salt Lake temple, where Elder Talmage wrote most of Jesus the Christ. Special mention to George I. Cannon, former president of the Salt Lake temple, for his kindness.
I am grateful to the Historical Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah; to Special Collections at the Harold B. Lee Library; to Special Collections at the Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City; to the Kingston Area Library and the Saugerties Area Library, New York; and to Benchmark Books, Salt Lake City. Individual thanks to Thomas G. Alexander, Carol Bush, James D’Arc, Duane E. Jeffery, Stan Larson, Larry Skidmore, Susan G. Thompson, Thomas Wells, David Whittaker, and Dan Wotherspoon, for their encouragement.
The late Dennis Rowley, whose insightful research on James E. Talmage and whose patience, time, and support were particularly helpful, will be sorely missed by one who did not have the opportunity to meet him in person.
Finally, this work would not have been completed without Santo Benincasa.
[p.xiii]LDS church president Heber J. Grant was concerned over his colleague Elder James E. Talmage’s workload and apparent lack of recreation. After much urging, Talmage agreed to accompany the president golfing on the condition that if he decided not to pursue the game, Grant would not insist that he play again.
Several church authorities who golfed joined the men at Nibley Park in south Salt Lake City. Grant and others demonstrated the proper strokes for their new student. Grant was especially confident that once Talmage played, he would embrace the game.
On his first and only shot, Talmage sent the ball close to 200 yards down the fairway, “a truly magnificent drive.” The audience applauded eagerly.
“Congratulations,” said Grant, rushing forward, with outstretched hand. “That was a fine shot you will remember for the rest of your life.”
“You mean that was a fully satisfactory golf shot?” Talmage replied.
“It certainly was!” beamed Grant.
“Then I have fulfilled my part of the agreement?”
“You have—and don’t you feel the thrill of excitement?”
Talmage hesitated, put on his jacket, then said, “If I have carried out my part of the agreement, then I shall call on you to live up to yours. You promised that if I hit a satisfactory drive and did not feel the spontaneous desire to play, you would stop urging me to do so. Now I should like to get back to the office, where I have a great deal of work waiting.1
Such was James E. Talmage, serious, bookish, always busy. Perhaps it was a sobering childhood that instilled such discipline in him. When Liberty Stake president Bryant S. Hinckley asked, “When and where did you receive a testimony of the gospel?” Talmage answered, “I do not know, I believe I was born with it as I belong to the third generation of Talmages in the Church. My paternal grandparents, James Talmage of Ramsbury, Wiltshire, England, and his wife, Mary Joyce of Hampshire, England, were the first, or among the first, to join [p.xiv]the Church in that part of England. My father, James Joyce Talmage, and my mother, Susannah Praeter (Talmage) became members of the Church before I was born. They were active and devoted members.”
Continuing he said:
Though I seem to have been born with a testimony yet in my early adolescence I was led to question whether that testimony was really my own or derived from my parents. I set about investigating the claims of the Church and pursued that investigation by prayer, fasting and research with all the ardor of an investigator on the outside. While such a one investigates with a view of coming into the Church if its claims be verified, I was seeking a way out of the Church if its claims should prove to me to be unsound. After months of such inquiry I found myself in possession of an assurance beyond all question that I was in solemn fact a member of the Church of Jesus Christ. I was convinced once and for all, and this knowledge is so fully an integral part of my being that without it I would not be myself.2 During a class examination at Brigham Young Academy, fifteen-year-old James Talmage wrote simply, “My testimony briefly expressed is, ‘I know’ for myself, independent of the opinion of others, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church of Christ,—restored by God’s chosen prophet Joseph Smith, and I also claim to be a partaker and to hold a standing in that church.’3
For those who have read Talmage’s theological writings, there can be no doubt as to his belief in the restored gospel, in the LDS church, in the prophet Joseph Smith, and in Jesus the Christ. However, there is more to the man than this. He was devoted to his family, committed to education, scholarship, teaching, and to science and the scientific method as a means of arriving at truth. He was serious but not necessarily humorless. He was not a sports enthusiast, but enjoyed horseback riding and hiking. His interests were surprisingly varied, and whatever he pursued, he tried to do so to perfection.
James Edward Talmage was born on 21 September 1862 in Hungerford, Berkshire, England. The exact dates of the baptisms of his grandparents and parents are not known, but even though the LDS church was only thirty-two years old, James was a third-generation member.
His grandfather James was a herbal doctor, as was his father James Joyce, and this may have influenced young James’s interest in science.4 By the age of ten he had learned to plot the horoscope, an enterprise he would later dismiss as fraudulent.5 Young James must have learned [p.xv]some rudimentary medicinal skills from his grandfather and father because at age seventeen, while touring LDS schools with Karl G. Maeser, he successfully extracted a bullet from a boy who had accidentally shot himself.6
At age eleven three events occurred that sobered the young boy. The first happened in the spring of 1873 when James became ill. His father blamed this on his not having yet been baptized. (His baptism had been postponed because of opposition to the church in the area.) When James had recovered, he and two friends were to enter the water the same evening, the baptism being held at night as not to arouse local hostilities. As James stepped to the water’s edge, they reportedly heard a terrible shriek which James described as “A combination of every fiendish ejaculation I could think of.” His father asked if he wanted to proceed; James said yes, and the noise stopped the moment he stepped into the water. Later James asked the other participants to sign an affidavit about what they remembered.7
The second incident was the accidental blinding of his younger brother Albert. Albert came up behind James who was working with a digging fork. James swung the fork around and punctured Albert’s left eye. Albert later suffered from “sympathy blindness” in his right eye and was only able to discern bright colors at close range. Albert was only six years old at the time.8 James was devastated by the tragedy. In later years he would become president of the Society for Aid of the Sightless and would meet Helen Keller. Albert actively promoted the use of braille and having church periodicals available for the blind.
The third event was the death of his grandfather. James had been close to his grandfather, spending time with him while his parents ran a hotel. The Family migrated to Utah in 1876, about a year and a half after the death of Grandfather Talmage.
The Talmage family settled in Provo, Utah, where the newly founded Brigham Young Academy (BYA), with its venerable head, Karl G. Maeser, was just beginning. As Maeser’s son Reinhard noted: “In this first year…came James E. Talmage, fresh from England and English schools. True to the customs of his native land he scattered his H’s with a promiscuousness quite amusing. But from the beginning he gave evidence of a superior mind, thereby winning the admiration of his fellow students among whom he soon became a recognized leader.”9
In England Talmage had distinguished himself as a scholar in the local diocese school system of the Church of England. In Provo, by age [p.xvi] seventeen, Talmage was teaching courses such as physiology, Latin, and Pittman shorthand for $1.25 per week. In the classroom and in his evaluations of teaching accommodations, he noticed how light fell in the classroom, if there were adequate teaching supplies, and the like. He was very attentive to the needs and concerns of fellow teachers.10
During the 1880-81 academic year Talmage realized his need for further education. He consulted with church president John Taylor, who agreed and gave him a blessing of encouragement. Talmage’s excursion to Lehigh University in South Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, became a mission of sorts. He was especially moved when the deacon’s quorum of his Provo ward gave him a $2.00 donation for his trip east.11Part of the admonition Talmage received when he left Utah was that he was “not to seek after personal honors or degrees” but bring this new knowledge back to Utah to serve the needs of BYA and the church. With limited resources he made the best of the facilities that were at his disposal in the East. In his year at Lehigh (1882-83) he completed freshman through senior classes with an emphasis on science. He attended lectures not on his schedule and took comprehensive and oral exams at the end of each semester. He also took many of his notes in Pittman shorthand and later translated them to longhand, thus giving him double exposure to classroom lectures.
He also visited the local steel works and other places of interest to a fledgling geologist, and spent considerable time in the well stocked campus laboratory. His only material indulgence was a walking cane, in vogue at the time. He taught a class in phonography (Pittman shorthand) to students who, at the end of the course, gave him an ebony, gold-headed walking cane with an engraved expression of appreciation.12
At that time there were no seminaries or institutes of religion for LDS students, neither was there a local Mormon congregation, so Talmage spent his Sundays at various denominations in the area.
After a year at Lehigh, Talmage decided to continue his studies at a university which offered courses unavailable at Lehigh. With encouragement and loans from friends in Utah, he enrolled at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland. While at Johns Hopkins, he learned of the devastating fire that destroyed much of Brigham Young Academy. He thought that this might force him to return to Utah, but he was encouraged to stay. During this time he began outlining lectures that [p.xvii]he would later deliver in Utah and would then find their way into his numerous articles.13
Talmage also spent as much time as possible in the Johns Hopkins laboratories, knowing that his scientific resources would be severely limited at BYA. One telling episode involved his research into the effects of narcotics, an incident which demonstrates his devotion to science and the scientific method. On 17 March 1884, as part of a class assignment, Talmage interviewed a man addicted to hashish. The man introduced the curious Talmage to others who had used hashish, all of whom described their experiences as being very different. Talmage and his associates decided “to try the effect of small dose upon ourselves.” Talmage confessed that he “disliked the idea of doing such a thing, for as yet I have never known what it is to be narcotized by either tobacco, alcohol, or any drug…”
On 22 March he reported taking three doses of five grams each every hour. At midnight he had experienced no reaction. On Sunday, 6 April, he increased the dosage and reported “the effect was felt in a not very agreeable way.”14 Following his return to Utah, his lecture on “Stimulants and Narcotics” became one of the young scientist’s most popular.15
Talmage returned to Provo in late June 1884, after first reporting to church authorities in Salt Lake City. He immediately resumed his old teaching posts at BYA, where he was also appointed acting principal. Additionally, he was called as a home missionary and spent many Sundays traveling to various wards and branches of the church.16 On 29 September he was ordained a high priest and was named as an alternate to the high council (he had been ordained an elder on 28 June 1880).
Talmage had earlier been asked to run for political office, but could not because he was not an American citizen. He overcame that obstacle on 15 September 1884 when he was naturalized. Three years later he was made a deputy U.S. marshal and witnessed an execution, and in 1888 was nominated by the Mormon friendly People’s Party to serve as a counselor from Provo’s Third Ward. He went on to become an alderman and a justice of the peace. His personal papers describe many of the cases over which he presided.17
Talmage disagreed with the practice of mixing politics and religion. In a general conference address he spoke of political parties in general terms,18 but never used the rostrum to encourage specific political sentiments.19 In one instance in 1918 the Council of the [p.xviii]Twelve Apostles was engrossed in serious discussions concerning Woodrow Wilson’s proposal for a League of Nations. Elder Reed Smoot, who also served as a U.S. senator, opposed the league, using the scriptures to defend his stand. Apostles who agreed with him included David O. McKay, Rudger Clawson, and Joseph Fielding Smith. Heber J. Grant believed that the league could help open doors for spreading Mormonism to other nations. Talmage concurred, as did Orson F. Whitney, Anthony W. Ivins, Stephen L Richards, and others. B. H. Roberts of the First Council of Seventy gave a talk the following March in the Tabernacle favoring the league. Although Talmage supported the premise of the talk, he objected to the Tabernacle being used for political purposes.20
Prior to Talmage taking on the responsibilities of his first political office in February 1888, he suffered a serious accident in his laboratory. “He was pouring molten slag from an assay crucible into a mould in the laboratory when some material inside the molten mass exploded, scattering the remainder and hurling some of it directly into [his] left eye.”21 Although the blindness was temporary, it caused him to reflect seriously on the part he had played in his younger brother’s blindness.
On 14 June 1888 Talmage married Merry May Booth in the Manti temple. At her birth, the name Merry, had been suggested by a sibling who had been singing a song which included the line “in the Merry, Merry Month of May.” Talmage affectionately called her “Maia,” after the Roman goddess of spring.22 Maia was the youngest child in her family, Talmage the oldest in his. James and Maia became the parents of eight children: Sterling Booth, Paul Booth, Zella, Elsie, James Karl, Lucile, Helen May, and John Russell. All grew to maturity except Zella, who only lived eight months. Her death was a trying time in an otherwise happy household.23
Elsie later reported the following about her father:
From the earliest memory of his children James E. Talmage was a man who “knew everything,” and could explain most of it in a way to be at least partially understood by immature minds. Questions as to what thunder is made of, where water comes from, how high the sky is and why is it blue, and numerous others of similar character were never met with a weary “Do be quiet.” Always there was a carefully worded explanation which helped to clear up the puzzle.
To children this was a boon. Confidence in the clear understanding of their father and his ability to make things plain to them was [p.xix]a strong part of the feeling which his sons and daughters held for him.
Strange and fascinating little bugs were shown to them through a microscope, queer things from strange lands and unfamiliar parts of their own, ore in which could be seen glints of precious metals, specimens of crystals, rocks, lime formations and other unusual, though natural peculiarities, all were regular parts of the hours which this man spent with his family.
Later the certainty that he could explain problems and make them simple carried over into fields other than the physical and geological. Questions of a more vital nature were propounded and clarified—questions of life and death, of where people came from and where they were going, of how to find the true values of life. Implicit faith in his answers helped them to take the ideas explained and weave [them] into their adolescent philosophy. Some of these children, now grown, feel that no problem can present itself which cannot be met satisfactorily by the man who has never failed them when they needed help [from] their father.24
When Elsie was only one year old, Talmage sent the following letter to her while he was in Russia. It not only shows his concern for his newborn daughter, but also his prose.
For Elsie, in Mamma’s care.
Kychtym, Siberia, Russia-in-Asia.
August 16, 1897
Elsie, My Darling Daughter:
A father’s fondest greeting to you on this the first recurrence of your natal day. Such I send to you from the plains of the far East, from the Steppes of Siberia. I write in the light of the early dawn, at an hour which to you on the opposite side of the earth is the same Sabbath hour at which one short year ago, you came to gladden our hearts, and to call forth our prayers of thankfulness; the hour at which your sweet mother reached the depths of the shadowy valley known as the Valley of Death, whither she had fearlessly gone to find you, my child. But the great Father, who is your parent as He is ours, guided and guarded her through the threatening darkness, and led her along the rough path of painful recovery, until she emerged from the pain and the travail, once more a sanctified mother, with you, my Darling, an added jewel to her crown.
May the one completed year of your life be the first of many, each bringing increasing wisdom and growing goodness in the service of our God. May the blessings pronounced upon you by the power of the eternal priesthood be realized in all your life and work. May you live to be a [p.xx]sisterly guide to your brothers’ feet, and a comfort to the mother whom God has given to you and to me. And in the Lord’s due time may, you be crowned an honored mother in the House of Israel. Peace, happiness and the love that knoweth naught but good, be yours, my darling and my pride.
Affectionately, Your Father.
I send you blossoms, leaves and ferns, gathered for you on the slopes of Songomak.25
One exciting event that happened to the Talmages was in October 1912. The young family and recently appointed apostle moved into their new home at 304 First Avenue. They invited the other general authorities to a housewarming and had the house dedicated by President Joseph F. Smith.26
Throughout these years the church was straggling with problems occasioned by its practice of polygamy. Talmage never practiced plural marriage, though he was sealed polygamously to Zella Webb following her death in 1887. The Webb family were friends of the Talmages and James spoke of them frequently in his journals. Zella was burned in a fire and died as a result of her burns. Her mother asked that Zella be sealed to Talmage to help insure her a place in the Celestial Kingdom.27 This was done with May’s consent, and the sealing took place in 1891. The Talmages’ first daughter was even named Zella after Zella Webb.28
In 1887 the Edmunds-Tucker Act authorized the federal government to confiscate the properties of any groups advocating and practicing polygamy. The act was aimed directly at the LDS church. The next year the government decided to enforce the Edmunds-Tucker Act and many church leaders fled into exile to avoid going to jail. On 24 March 1888 James noted:
Attended the afternoon session of the District Court. This had been the day set by the Judge for sentencing brethren convicted under the infamous “Edmunds-Tucker Act” convicted of acknowledging and supporting their families! This is to the United States Government, a crime! Among the prisoners was my friend and fellow laborer Bro. [Karl G.] Maeser. He had pleaded guilty to the charge. His sentence was a fine of [p.xxi]$300.00 and the costs of prosecution. By special pressure brought to bear upon the judge through the gentile [non-Mormon] part of the community who entertained a respect for educational labor, he was spared imprisonment.29
Talmage was present at the general conference session which sustained the Wilford Woodruff Manifesto ostensibly banning plural marriage (at that same conference the Thirteen Articles of Faith were “readopted and sustained by the congregation”). Talmage recorded: “This manifesto has caused much comment among the Saints. Some regard this step as one of retrocession, others look wise and say, ‘I told you so.’ Since this document was issued I have prayed for light as to its true import; and see in it nothing but good for the people.”30
Talmage also addressed the issue of plural marriage in his classic The Articles of Faith. The published book uses the topic to stress that Latter-day Saints observe the laws of the land.31 In his papers is a seventeen-page section of notes titled “Items on Polygamy—Omitted from the published book.” It is not clear if Talmage or a member of his reading committee decided not to include the document in the published book.32
During the Reed Smoot Hearings in early 1905, Talmage testified that the church was adhering to the Woodruff Manifesto. His testimony incurred the wrath of those members who continued to promote plural marriages secretly. On 21 March 1905 he wrote in his journal:
Interview with the First Presidency regarding cases of misrepresentation of the attitude of the Church Authorities in the matter of polygamous marriage. Some people claiming a standing in the church and many of them even officers in ward and stake capacities, unwisely and erroneously affirm lack of sincerity on the part of the General Authorities. My position as a witness in the recent proceedings in Washington places me before this class of people as a sort of target for their arrows of criticism; and I have referred several individuals to the First Presidency for investigation of their words and acts.
In 1924, as a member of the Council of the Twelve, Talmage was assigned to assist stakes in disciplining those who continued to practice plural marriage. He considered this a “very unwelcome appointment,”33 and his journals are replete with references to his role in excommunicating members who refused to abandon polygamy.
[p.xxii]Talmage played an important part in the development of education in the church and in Utah. He had the appropriate training as a teacher after receiving degrees at Lehigh University and Johns Hopkins, and in 1896 he received a Ph.D. from Wesleyan University for nonresident work. Honors also came for his scientific work, including membership as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society, and Fellow of the Royal Geological Society.
In 1888 Talmage was appointed president of Latter-day Saints College, a position he held until 1893. He then became president of the University of Utah, where he served until 1897 when he left to be a full-time mining and geological consultant. One of his final acts at the university was to have a seismograph installed.34
John Talmage tells of an incident that occurred while his father was president of the University of Utah. One evening Talmage came home bloodied, muddy, his clothes in tatters. Maia assumed the worse, fearing that he had been the victim of a robbery. However, James had been using a bicycle for transportation at the time. On his way home he would get off the bike to cross a single-plank footbridge across a small stream of water. That evening he decided that he would cross the plank without dismounting. He found the task more difficult than imagined. As John Talmage observed: “For the next hour, the president of the University of Utah might have been observed trundling his bicycle fifty yards or so down the road from the bridge, mounting and riding furiously toward the plank crossing, turning onto it with grimlipped determination—and plunging off it in a spectacular and bone shaking crash into the rough ditchbank.”35 Talmage repeated his attempts to cross the bridge until he finally mastered it.
In 1893, in connection with his work at LDS College, Talmage was asked by the church’s First Presidency to undertake a series of public theological lectures. The first class had between 500 to 600 people in attendance; soon the classes were pushing close to over one thousand. The lectures were subsequently printed in the Juvenile Instructor and formed the basis for Talmage’s classic work, The Articles of Faith. A “committee on criticism” was appointed consisting of Francis M. Lyman and Abraham H. Cannon of the Council of the Twelve, George H. Reynolds of the First Council of Seventy, John [p.xxiii]Nicholson, and Karl Maeser. The book was “written by appointment; and published by the Church.”36
Yet in spite of its official sanction, The Articles of Faith was not without controversy. Talmage introduced some ideas that conflicted with views held by others, including:
1. The Spirit Body of the Holy Ghost. Talmage’s journals reveal that the subject of the Holy Ghost was of particular interest.37 President George Q. Cannon was concerned about the ambiguity in some church literature over the nature of the Holy Ghost and felt there should be a consensus on the issue. For example, 1 Nephi 11:11 discusses the visit of “the Spirit of the Lord.” Some wondered if this referred to the Holy Ghost or to the pre-existent Jesus Christ who visited the Brother of Jared in Ether 3.38 Talmage’s interpretation that the verse referred to the Holy Ghost prevailed. In 1920 when he added footnotes and chapter headings to the Book of Mormon, his one reference to 1 Nephi 11:11 directed readers to John 14:16, 17.
2. Progression Among the Kingdoms. On page 420 of the first edition of The Articles of Faith (1899) Talmage wrote:
It is reasonable to believe, in the absence of direct revelation by which alone absolute knowledge of the matter could be acquired, that, in accordance with God’s plan of eternal progression, advancement from grade to grade within any kingdom, and from kingdom to kingdom, will be provided for. But if the recipients of a lower glory be enabled to advance, surely the intelligences of higher rank will not be stopped in their progress; and thus we may conclude, that degrees and grades will ever characterize the kingdoms of our God. Eternity is progressive; perfection is relative; the essential feature of God’s living purpose is its associated power of eternal increase.39 Later, in October 1913, Talmage qualified his remarks by stating that we should not delay our repentance because we believe such matters can be dealt with in the next life.40
3. The Change in Wording of the Fourth Article of Faith. When the Fourth Article of Faith was written in 1842, it originally read: “We believe that these ordinances are: First, Faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ; second, repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.” At Talmage’s suggestion, the wording was changed to its current form: “We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism [p.xxiv]by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.” He felt that faith and repentance were not ordinances. Also “these ordinances” did not introduce a new concept but referred back to the Third Article of Faith. The change was adopted by the First Presidency and accepted when the Pearl of Great Price was voted on in April 1902 general conference. Talmage was in charge of revising that book of scripture as well.41
J. Reuben Clark, a member of the First Presidency for twenty-eight years, was a student at Latter-day Saints College when Talmage was president. He assisted the busy president on The Articles of Faith and remembered: “I was blessed by being taken under the immediate tutelage of Dr. Talmage. I worked with him for several years. I came to know him rather well. I was with him when he prepared ‘The Articles of Faith.’ I often jokingly say that I wrote ‘The Articles of Faith’—I did—on the typewriter.”42
Talmage and Clark became friends. Talmage received special permission to solemnize Clark’s marriage to Lucine A. Savage on 14 September 1898.43 Clark was at Talmage’s bedside when he passed away thirty-five years later on 27 July 1933.
During the years 1891 to 1905 Talmage traveled to Europe, Russia, and other places to lecture, accept awards, and do research. He wrote textbooks such as First Book of Nature (1888) and Domestic Science (1891), published his own research and observations in Tables for Blowpipe Determinations of Minerals (1898) and The Great Salt Lake, Present and Past (1900), as well as articles on scientific or theological topics.
He also became a mining consultant and prepared reports for his clients. He spent considerable time in courtrooms, observing the legal profession and how lawyers work. This prepared him for his testimony in the Reed Smoot case.
Reed Smoot was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve who was elected to the U.S. Senate from Utah in 1903.44 The hearings held to determine if Smoot as a member of the LDS church should be allowed to join the Senate became more of a public inquiry into the LDS church than a referendum on Smoot. Talmage testified on 19 and 24 January 1905. He was regarded as an “expert” on Mormonism because of The Articles of Faith and his work on the new edition of The Pearl of Great Price. Talmage proved to be a difficult witness, making the committee [p.xxv]work for each answer to their questions. At one point, while they were haggling over definitions for “edition” and “reissue,” one committee member complained that the session “takes too long.”45
Committee members reported that they had heard Talmage was to be brought up on charges of apostasy for something he had written in The Articles of Faith. Talmage answered, “No charge was actually made, though I was notified I would be so charged. But as one of the church officials had already expressed as holding the views set forth by myself in that work, and he being very much larger game, he was singled out first, and as the proceedings against him ended in a disappointing way, I was never brought to trial.”46 It is not clear what the charges were or who the “very much larger game” was.47
Talmage’s primary vocations as teacher and mining consultant were supplemented by his behind-the-scenes work for the church. He consulted church leaders on ventilating the Salt Lake Tabernacle,48 on An Address: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the World (a proclamation delivered at April 1907 general conference), on a 1909 First Presidency statement regarding evolution,49 wrote a study guide for church youth entitled The Great Apostasy, and compiled a small booklet for the Bureau of Information on The Story of Mormonism.
Life continued as usual at this busy pace until at 4:00 p.m. on 7 December 1911, when Anthony W. Ivins of the Council of Twelve Apostles called on Talmage at his office to tell him he had been appointed to the apostleship. At 11:30 a.m. the next day, Talmage was ordained an apostle under the hands of President Joseph F. Smith, with counselors Anthon H. Lund and Charles W. Penrose, and apostles Francis M. Lyman, Hyrum M. Smith, George F. Richards, and Joseph Fielding Smith assisting.50 Talmage, the fiftieth apostle of the church, filled the vacancy occasioned by the death of John Henry Smith.
Talmage’s journal shows him humbled by his new calling. Referring to a patriarchal blessing, he wrote “May the Lord grant me His [support], and enable me to be a true witness of him…I have looked upon myself as a lay member in the Church though I know that a patriarch Jesse Martin of Provo gave me to understand that, and I would be called and ordained one of the Twelve Apostles.”51 As part of his charge to the new apostle, Francis M Lyman, President of the Quorum of the Twelve, instructed him as follows:
[p.xxvi]1. “The necessity of being in perfect accord with other brethren of the Twelve.” He would be free to express his opinions, but once a decision was made, he was expected to join with the majority.
2. “Everything talked about and done in Council capacity should be held in strict confidence as matters sacred to the Council.”
3. “His duties as an Apostle should take precedence over all others whether of a public, private or domestic nature.”52
Just prior to Talmage’s call, an attempt was made to extort money from the church. Some enterprising parties threatened to print pictures of the interior of the Salt Lake temple unless they were paid $100,000. At Talmage’s suggestion, church leaders decided to publish a book about temples and temple ordinances, including pictures of the inside of the Salt Lake temple. By the time The House of the Lord appeared the next year, Talmage was an apostle.53
Talmage immersed himself in his calling, visiting stakes and occasionally investigating members who claimed revelations independent of official church protocol, including proponents of the so-called Dream Mine in Salem, Utah.54 From September 1914 to April 1915, he fulfilled an assignment that would highlight his tenure as a member of the Twelve and produce one of the unquestioned classics in LDS literature. During these seven months he researched and wrote Jesus the Christ.
On 14 September 1914 he recorded:
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 forenoon’s 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.55
(The Talmage Room remains a point of interest for those given tours of the Salt Lake temple).
When the First Presidency charged Talmage to undertake this [p.xxvii]assignment in 1905, they made it clear they wanted “a valuable acquisition to our Church Literature.” These words proved to be prophetic, for no other church book, except the scriptures, has surpassed the status of Jesus the Christ.56 It was used as a Melchizedek priesthood course manual in 1916 and in 1963, is still required reading for missionaries, and continues to be a source of information and inspiration to church members worldwide.57
A particularly insightful analysis of Jesus the Christ is Malcolm Thorpe’s “James E. Talmage and the Tradition of the Victorian Lives of Jesus.”58 Here Thorpe addresses “Victorian” approaches to Christ, in particular the influential writings of Frederick Farrar, J. Cunningham Geikie, and Alfred Edersheim. While the influence other writers had on Talmage’s work cannot be overstated, Farrar’s impact stands out with his own Life of Christ.59 One need only scan the table of contents of Farrar’s book to see how Talmage patterned Jesus the Christ. Yet Talmage’s work cannot be branded plagiarism, for where Farrar accentuated his approach with a knowledge of biblical languages, Talmage supplemented the biblical narrative with modern revelation.60
Talmage and others were responding to what they understood to be the methodologies and conclusions of an emerging higher biblical criticism. There is some indication that this is why the First Presidency was anxious to have Talmage complete his work. Talmage was not a proponent of higher criticism, at least as he interpreted it, and on 5 April 1914 stated: “There be men who have arrogated to themselves the claim of superiority, who pronounce themselves higher critics of the scriptures of Almighty God, and proclaim that the scriptures mean not what they say. Right glad am I that my people are pleased with sound doctrine.” He further noted: “I don’t believe the Latter-day Saints are influenced by these vagaries of the so-called higher criticism of the scriptures.” Fourteen years later he added: “There are those who forget what the Lord has said through the Book of Mormon, and who are led away into the jungle of error, much of which belongs to the marshy and uncertain ground preempted in the name of higher criticism.”61
One important doctrinal matter to come to light during the writing of Jesus the Christ was the title “Son of Man” as applied to Jesus. Talmage’s attention may have been drawn to this title by Frederick Farrar62 and been accentuated by the frequent use of “Son of Man” in the Pearl of Great Price.63 On pages 142-44 of Jesus the Christ Talmage [p.xxviii]discusses the significance of “Son of Man” and provides numerous scriptural references regarding it. He delivered a talk on the “Son of Man” at BYU on 15 November 1914, using students there as a test audience before giving the talk in April 1915 general conference. However, Charles W. Penrose of the First Presidency expressed “the opinion that the wide spread publicity of this doctrine would cause difficulty to the elders in the field, who he thinks would be confronted with the charge that we as a people worship a man.” The official publication of this address contains significant omissions. Interestingly, the omitted portions have as much to do with Talmage’s criticisms of higher biblical scholars as it does with the “Son of Man.”64
In July 1915 the First Presidency assigned Talmage to represent the church at the World Congress of Religious Philosophies held in connection with the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.65 From that experience came his classic address “The Philosophical Basis of Mormonism.”
During World War I Talmage addressed the topic “Mormonism and the War,” a speech that made headlines in a leading newspaper.66 The Talmage family supported America’s involvement, a commitment evident in an incident involving six-year-old John. During the early part of 1917, enlistment in the military was lagging and the government initiated a major recruitment drive. On 30 March young John coaxed his governess to take him downtown to buy a gift for a family member. While she was looking into a store window, he ran into a nearby National Guard office, where he declared himself ready for duty. The amused recruiters put John through the drill of attention and saluting. However, the boy was devastated when he was told he was too young, and John decided not to tell anyone of the humiliating experience. That afternoon the family received a call from Lieutenant Albert Meyers who related the incident and asked permission to report the story in the next day’s newspaper.67
In 1919 Talmage began writing a newspaper column about the church titled “The Vitality of Mormonism.” These articles appeared in major newspapers, such as the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Herald, and in lesser known papers, such as the Alabama Weekly Times. The articles were collected and published by Gorham Press in Boston [p.xxix]under the title The Vitality of Mormonism. The book was widely used by missionaries.68
In 1916 Talmage and his colleague in the Twelve Joseph Fielding Smith were assigned to prepare “Ready References,” a scripture index to be used by missionaries. For many years these “Ready References” were inserted between the Old and New Testaments in Bibles published for the church.69
On 31 October 1918 Talmage was one of the assembled apostles who sustained President Joseph F. Smith’s Vision of the Redemption of the Dead. (Years later this vision would be incorporated as section 138 of the Doctrine and Covenants.70 Two years later he headed a committee to revise the Book of Mormon. The First Presidency had learned that there were some errors in the text. Years earlier Elder Orson Pratt had divided the Book of Mormon into chapters and verses, and Talmage was now given the assignment of adding chapter headings and footnotes. He was customarily meticulous, making sure there were no errors or omissions, and praised his secretary when she found an error he had missed.71 One letter, dated 27 May 1920 and covering 1 Nephi to Alma 33, contains 90 recommended changes. In another letter, dated 19 September 1920, Talmage writes to his secretary, “I suggest that you announce these changes to no one.”72 Later Talmage revised the Doctrine and Covenants and suggested that the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price be combined in one volume called a “triple combination.”73
Talmage continued to speak and write. His journals outline exhausting schedules. In late 1924 he was called to replace Elder David O. McKay as the head of the church’s European Mission. McKay had been ill and been advised to return home. Almost immediately he tried to visit with the editors of various newspapers to see if their anti-Mormon articles could be stopped. In one city he presented his calling card to a newspaper employee who gave it to his editor. At first the editor refused to see the Mormon apostle. But with the abbreviations F.R.S.E, F.R.M.S., F.R.G.S., representing the scientific societies of England of which he was a member, clearly visible, he could not be early ignored.74
While supervising the European Mission, Talmage injured his left knee. In later years he would suffer decreased mobility and be humiliated by an embarrassing fall in the crowded Tabernacle. After his return [p.xxx]to Utah, he would experience serious health problems as well as problems for his sons Karl and Paul.
Talmage was enthralled with the radio and loved to listen to it. He was privileged to conduct a weekly series on the life of the Christ in 1928. He undertook another series in 1930 on various church doctrines, which were collected and printed as Sunday Night Talks by Radio. Just prior to his death he was doing a series on the priesthood each Sunday evening. In 1930 he was asked to assist Webster’s Dictionary in preparing definitions for Mormon-related words.
Talmage was also largely responsible for a small work that came out in 1930 titled Latter-day, Revelation. The work, an abridgement and condensation of certain sections of the Doctrine and Covenants, was prepared as an aid to missionaries and to facilitate translating the Doctrine and Covenants into other languages.75
In 1931 Talmage became entangled in a doctrinal dispute between B. H. Roberts of the First Council of the Seventy and Joseph Fielding Smith of the Council of the Twelve.76 Roberts wanted to publish his “masterwork,” titled “The Truth, The Way, The Life.” In this book he suggested that there was life (and death) on the earth before Adam, “pre-Adamites” he called them.
Smith felt that Roberts was preaching false doctrine and had insinuated such publicly. Roberts queried the First Presidency to ask if Smith’s pronouncements were official declarations. The two men were invited to present their cases to the Quorum of the Twelve. On 7 January 1931 Roberts argued his side, two weeks later Smith responded. Roberts may have lost the debate because he had spoken unkindly of Smith. President Heber J. Grant felt that both men were “dealing in the mysteries” and felt that such matters should be left alone.
As a scientist, Talmage was concerned that because of Smith’s remarks, some might conclude that the church was anti-science. The result of this conflict was Talmage’s talk “The Earth and Man,” which was delivered at the Tabernacle on 9 August 1931. The speech eventually met with the approval of President Grant and was published in the Deseret News and as a pamphlet.77 One unfortunate aftermath was that following Talmage’s death, hard feelings lasted for several years between the Talmages and the Smiths.
Stan Larson, in his introduction to The Truth, The Way, The Life,[p.xxxi]outlines this controversy. He refers readers to a copy of Talmage’s The Earth and Man upon which Smith had written, “False Doctrine.”78 Another copy of this pamphlet with Elder Smith’s “False Doctrine” notation can be found at the Harold B. Lee Library archives, Brigham Young University.79
Talmage passed away at 8:45 a.m. on 27 July 1933 from “acute myocarditis, following a throat infection.” With him were his beloved Maia, Paul, Elsie, and Helen and her husband, Harold Brandley, and J. Reuben Clark. The other children had been notified that he was failing but were unable to reach their father prior to his passing. His death made the front page headline of the evening Deseret News: “DOCTOR JAMES E. TALMAGE IS DEAD.”80
To my mind, two things most distinguish the life of Elder James E. Talmage. First, he truly loved his family. In his journals he talked of his loneliness while traveling and of his deep concern when his children were sick or his wife was ill. John Talmage referred to him as “the most wonderful of fathers.” The Talmage family made a great sacrifice to the church by approving of his absence on so many occasions.
Second, he willingly served others. This is probably best exemplified in the following story. In the spring of 1892 diphtheria ravaged Utah communities. Talmage had returned home on Memorial Day from ministering to people when he learned of the plight of the non-Mormon Martin family, who were afflicted with diphtheria. Local Relief Society leaders had been unable to get anyone to go to the house to help for fear of catching the disease. James immediately left for the Martin home. He recorded:
One child, two and a half years old, lay dead on a bed, having been dead about four hours and still unwashed. Two other children, one a boy of ten and the other a girl of five, lay writhing in the agonies of the disease. A girl of 13 years is still feeble from a recent attack of diphtheria…The father, Mr. Abe Martin, and the mother, Marshia Martin, are dazed with grief and fatigue; and the only other occupant of the house, a man named Kelly who is a boarder in the family, is so ill and weak as hardly to be able to move about.
He cleaned the house and prepared the young child for burial. Food and clothing had been donated by the Relief Society. The soiled clothing and rugs had to be burned. A woman came by and offered to [p.xxxii]do the work for $5 a day, which she then lowered to $4.50, still a large sum for a family so destitute. Talmage dismissed her as a “vulture.”
When he returned the next day, he found that the ten-year-old boy had died during the night. The five-year-old girl was now near death. Talmage took her in his arms. “She clung to my neck, ofttimes coughing bloody mucus on my face and clothing, and her throat had about it the stench of putrefaction, yet I could not put her from me. During the half hour immediately preceding her death, I walked the floor with the little creature in my arms. She died in agony at 10 a.m.”
The three children were placed in wooden coffins and buried in a local cemetery. Talmage delivered the graveside blessing. After seeing to the well-being of the grieving family, he bathed in a zinc solution, burned his soiled clothing, and quarantined himself from his family for several days to prevent spread of the disease.81
In conclusion, a few questionable items concerning James Talmage should be cleared up. Many myths have circulated over the years regarding him. Perhaps the most prevalent is that noted physicist Albert Einstein said he was the smartest man in the world, or words to that effect. This is not true. Although the two scientists were contemporaries, neither crossed the other’s path during his lifetime.82 Although Talmage was a competent geologist, he was primarily an educator.
It has also been rumored that Talmage was a heavy smoker, that when he was writing Jesus the Christ, temple janitors had to dispose of barrels of cigar butts.83 First, Talmage was a clear advocate of the Word of Wisdom, which prohibited smoking. In 1895 he was asked to speak in the Tabernacle on “The Tobacco Habit.”84 In his journal he spoke of his concern with young people smoking. He also wrote about the dangers of “Hot Drinks.”85 In the Articles of Faith he treated the Word of Wisdom and even mentioned it in Jesus the Christ.86
The rumors of his smoking originated in a remedy prescribed by a doctor, who believed that at one point Talmage was headed toward a nervous breakdown. He typically worked himself to exhaustion; in fact, one apocryphal story, holds that he told a mission president that sometimes his head hurt so much from studying that he would wrap it in wet towels to relieve the pressure. In 1896 Talmage presided over Latter-day Saints College, worked on The Articles of Faith, taught a heavy course load, and delivered lectures and completed various other [p.xxxiii]church assignments. He also suffered from insomnia and constipation. He noted in his journal that it had been reported to the First Presidency that “the moderate use of tobacco would have a good effect on me.” They told him, “We give you this rather as an instruction than as counsel” to take up smoking. Talmage subsequently found “that a good cigar produced a marvelous quieting of my over-wrought nerves.”87 As medicine, this prescription was in keeping with the spirit of the Word of Wisdom, and Talmage did not prolong his use of it.
Another rumor pertains to the writing of Jesus the Christ. Reportedly, Talmage never left the temple while writing the book. This is not true. John Talmage explains that in spite of the relatively short time it took to produce the book, “the author not only left the Temple frequently, but managed to devote many hours a day to his regular duties as a member of the Council of the Twelve. He was spared most weekend stake conference assignments…He even slept at home most nights, but his hours at home were extremely limited and his family was keenly aware of the time-pressure problem.”88
According to another rumor, when Talmage finished the book, Jesus himself appeared to him and told him he was pleased with the result. This story sounds similar to one church president Lorenzo Snow reportedly experienced in the temple,89 and the two stories have probably become intertwined. Talmage was careful in recording spiritual experiences and did not leave an account of such a vision.
Both The Articles of Faith and Jesus the Christ are unique in Mormon literature in that they are the only two single-authored church-related books to have been commissioned by the First Presidency, reviewed by committees consisting of general authorities, and been published under the president of the church’s official imprimatur. Both are seminal works, but even as Talmage acknowledged in his preface to Jesus the Christ: “It presents, however, the writer’s personal belief and profoundest conviction as to the truth of what he has written.” Neither book occupies the same status as scripture. Even so, they have a special place in our literature and, in the words of the apostle Paul, are “profitable for doctrine” (2 Tim. 3:16).[p.1]
3. “III Term III Year, Examination Papers by J.E.Talmage, Normal Depart. April 4, 1879,” cited in The Papers of James E. Talmage, Register of the James E. Talmage Collection, Mss 229, comp. Timothy Wood Slover (Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University: Division of Archives and Manuscripts, n.d.); hereafter referred to as Talmage Papers. This register locates the Box and Folder of items in the Talmage Collection at the Lee Library. For this reference, see Box 9, Folder 7.
4. Dennis Rowley, “Inner Dialogue: James Talmage’s Choice of Science as a Career,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 17 (Summer 1984): 112-14. Also cited in The Search for Harmony: Essays on Science and Mormonism, ed. Gene A. Sessions and Craig J. Oberg (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1993), 43-45. Talmage Story, chap. 1.
6. Talmage Story, 18-19. In his journal, dated 3 March 1923, Talmage tells how he and some companions, en route from a church assignment, came upon an automobile accident “where I assumed the part of an amateur surgeon.”
7. Talmage Story, 3-6; James E. Talmage, “An Unusual Accompaniment to a Baptism,” Improvement Era 25 (June 1922): 675-76. Dennis Rowley, “Fishing on the Kennet: The Victorian Boyhood of James E. Talmage, 1862-1876,” Brigham Young University Studies 33 (Summer 1993): 505 506, 519n87. This entire article is enlightening.
The notes, scraps, etc. presented here have been taken by the undersigned principally from lectures delivered by the professors, teachers, and students of the Brigham Young Academy, either during the regular school session of the institution, or in the societies connected with the same.
Lectures, delivered by students have previously been endorsed by [p.xxxv]the professors, hence they are considered equally authentic.
The notes have been taken, as presented and recorded for preservation with the intention of revising each subject at leisure, making improvements where admissible, and recopying each in a separate volume under a more thorough classification…
In the section titled “Index to Theological Questions and Answers,” he outlined various doctrinal topics, for example, “Women, why no priesthood?” and the Negro and the priesthood. Talmage Papers, Box 9, Folder 5.
18. James E. Talmage, “The Need for Religion,” delivered at the 103rd semi-annual conference of the LDS church, 3 October 1932. I have added titles to general conference addresses, since prior to 1942 they were not titled in the official conference reports.
19. For a brief discussion of one time when Talmage may have used the pulpit to put forth a political point, see Thomas G. Alexander, Mormonism in Transition: A History of the Latter-day Saints 1890-I930 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986), 40.
20. Ibid., 52-53; also see James B. Allen, “Personal Faith and Public Policy: Some Timely Observations on the League of Nations Controversy in Utah,” Brigham Young University Studies 14 (Autumn 1973): 77-98.
This day will be remembered as the occasion of one of the hardest experiences and one of the heaviest burdens ever sent to us. Our sweet daughter left us this morning early: she died at 3:15 a.m. As she rallied under the in-[p.xxxvi]fluence of administrations and stimulants last evening we were flushed with trustful hope that she would be spared to us; at 1 a.m. today, when I called her mother from bed to nourish the child the baby seemed greatly improved; she gradually weakened however, and when next the mother was aroused, at 3 a.m., the child was evidently nearing the end. Fifteen minutes later the darling little one laid her pretty head upon my shoulder and was gone. The burden is hard to bear: our grief is acute, yet we try to see as indeed we feel the Hand of God in this sorrow as in our joys.
There are numerous journal entries in following years when the family would visit the grave of Zella, especially on Memorial Days.
25. Ibid. Bryant S. Hinckley, president of the Liberty Stake (and father of Gordon B. Hinckley, later president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), was commissioned to write this series of articles on members of the Quorum of the Twelve. When he came to this letter from Talmage to Elsie, he wrote, “[James E. Talmage’s] love and admiration for the woman whose wisdom and companionship have meant so much to him, his affection for his children and his solicitude for their welfare, is recorded in a correspondence which, we venture, will some day be found among the most precious and delightful things he has written.”
29. Cited in Ernest L. Wilkinson and Cleon Skousen, Brigham Young University: A School of Destiny (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1976), 89. For a treatment of this difficult period, see Edwin Brown Firmage and Richard Collin Mangrum, Zion in the Courts: A Legal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830-1900 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988), chaps. 6-8.
30. Talmage Story, 90-91. The Thirteen Articles of Faith were re-adopted prior to sustaining the Manifesto to emphasize the fact that the church believes in “obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”
31. James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith—A Series of Lectures on the Principle Doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-days Saints (Salt Lake City: The Deseret News, Published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1899), 435-36, 440; 1924 ed., 424-25, 524-25.
ANNOUNCEMENT: At a meeting of the Council of the Twelve Apostles held Thursday, January 10, 1924, in the Salt Lake Temple, the following action was taken:— Elder Stephen L. Richards offered the following motion:—That it be the sense of the Council that Brother James E. Talmage be selected to act under the direction of President Rudger Clawson as the representative of the Council in giving aid to Stake Presidents and High Councils in the investigation and trial of alleged offenses and offenders against the marriage laws and the moral discipline of the Church and matters relating thereto, it being understood that it is the desire of the Council that the stakes and local jurisdictions shall assume responsibility for bringing offenders in such matters to trial and justice.
The motion was seconded by Brother Joseph Fielding Smith, and after a brief discussion was unanimously adopted.
[Signed Joseph Fielding Smith] Sec’y.
Also see J. Max Anderson, The Po1ygamy Story: Fiction and Fact (Salt Lake City: Publishers Press, 1979), 146.
34. Talmage Story, 166. For other information regarding Talmage’s impact on education in Utah, see Ralph V. Chamberlin, The University of Utah, A History of Its First Hundred Years—1850-1950 (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1960), 177, 206 207. Also see Grant Larsen Wilson, “The Life and Educational Contributions of James Edward Talmage,” M.A. thesis, University of Utah, June 1958.
38. In this interpretation of 1 Nephi 11:11, Talmage was preceded by Orson Pratt. See Orson Pratt, Writings of an Apostle. Vol. II, Mormon Collectors Series (Salt Lake City: Mormon Heritage Publishers, 1976), cited in “The Holy Spirit” from A Series of Pamphlets by Orson Pratt, 56.
[p.xxxviii]39. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, 1st ed., 420-21; 1924 ed., 409. Talmage was not the first church writer to introduce the idea of progression among the kingdoms. See B. H. Roberts, Outline of Ecclesiastical History (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., Classics in Mormon Literature, 1979); the book was originally printed in 1893. On pages 416-17 Roberts talks about “Progress Within and From Different Degrees of Glory.” Talmage was a member of the reading committee that approved Roberts’s original book. See Talmage Journal, 15 Aug. 1892. For an opposing view, see Joseph Fielding Smith, The Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1955), 2:31-34.
41. Lyndon W. Cook, “The Articles of Faith,” Brigham Young University Studies 17 (Winter 1977): 254-56. See Talmage Journal, 29 Nov. 1893. For an excellent history of the Thirteen Articles of Faith, see David J. Whittaker, “The ‘Articles of Faith’ in Early Mormon Literature and Thought,” in Davis Bitton and Maureen Ursenbach Beecher, eds., New Views of Mormon History: Essays in Honor of Leonard J. Arrington (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1987), 63-92; John W. Welch and David J. Whittaker ‘”We Believe…’: The Development of the Articles of Faith,” Ensign 9 (Sept. 1979): 51-55.
43. Frank W. Fox, J. Reuben Clark: The Public Years (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University, Press, Deseret Book Co., 1980), 18; D. Michael Quinn, J. Reuben Clark: The Church Years (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1983), 9, 286n21; Talmage Journal, 14 Sept. 1898.
44. Milton R. Merrill, Reed Smoot: Apostle in Politics (Logan: Utah State University Press and Department of Political Science, 1990), chaps. 1 and 2; Alexander, Mormonism in Transition, chap. 2; Joseph Fielding Smith, Essentials in Church History (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1970), 509-11.
45. Proceedings Before the Committee On Privileges and Elections of the United States Senate in the Matter of the Protests Against the Right of Hon. Reed Smoot, A Senator From the State of Utah, to Hold His Seat (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1905), 3:128; hereafter cited as Smoot Hearings. Of interest in the Talmage Papers is the following document from B. H. Roberts to Joseph Fielding Smith, son of church president Joseph F. Smith, who worked in the church’s historical department at the time. It outlines the strategy church leaders used during the Senate hearings. The items in brackets were written in by Roberts.
[p.xxxix]1. Obtain if possible when the four standard works, Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price were accepted by the body of the Church as the Standard works of the Church. [(Oct. 6, 1902)]
2. Find the Temple Marriage Ceremony in the Seer published by Orson Pratt in Washington. [-Vol. 1 No 2 p 32 – H O Pamps Vol. 17 No 2]
3. Find the Journal of Discourses in which Amasa Lyman’s discourse containing the Atonement is published. Mill. Star also contains said discourse. Find it in the Star [(Vol. 24 p 320)] as well as in the Journal for reason that there are some explanations, I think, in the Star which are not found in the journal. Also find the information about Lyman’s excommunication, cause of, date, [(May 12-1870)] etc.
4. Obtain Journal of Discourses for July 8, 1855 containing President Young’s sermon on the Kingdom of God. pp. 309-317. [-J of D vol. 2.]
5. Find President Young’s discourse on Orson Pratt’s work in which the President condemns much of the teaching of Orson Pratt, saying among other things “Orson Pratt’s vain philosophy is no guide for the Latter-day Saints.” We want this passage to offset the effect of Orson Pratt’s statement concerning the nature of the Kingdom of God [D Weekly 14:372]
The above references are wanted to aid Brother Talmage in forming testimony to be given before the Senate Investigating Committee.
Also see “Scripture References and Information Suggested to James E. Talmage to Aid Him in His Testimony Before the Senate Investigating Committee Regarding Reed Smoot,” undated, Talmage Papers, Box 23, Folder 12.
47. Letter from Thomas G. Alexander, 19 Aug. 1993. Note Talmage Journal, 13 Jan. 1899: “In conversation Pres. Geo. Q. Cannon supportcd the view of the distinct personality of the Holy Ghost.” Cannon may have been the “very much larger game” to which Talmage was referring. For the part Talmage and others played in the doctrinal development of the church, see Thomas Alexander, “The Reconstruction of Mormon Doctrine: From Joseph Smith to Progressive Theology,” Sunstone 5 (July-Aug. 1980): 24-33.
48. Talmage Papers, Box 15, Folder 8; Talmage Papers at archives, Historical Dcpartment, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Box 24, Folder 11; James E. Talmage, Domestic Science (Salt Lake City: The Juvenile Instructor Office, 1891), chap. 8 on “Ventilation.”
55. Talmage Journal, 14 Sept. 1914. The so-called Talmage Room is on the fifth floor of the Salt Lake temple to the left of the Melchizedek Priesthood side of the Assembly Hall. The 1974 edition of Talmage’s The House of the Lord (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co.) features a photograph of the Melchizedek Priesthood side of the Assembly Hall, but the door to the Talmage Room cannot be seen. In many entries in his journal, Talmage refers to “my room in the Temple.” For a more modern example of the “Talmage Room” being used by a general authority, see Sheri L. Dew, The Biography of Gordon B. Hinckley: Go Forward With Faith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1996), 177.
57. See the following supplementary materials that have been produced: Study for the Melchizedek Priesthood and Priests, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1916, “JESUS THE CHRIST, by Elder James E. Talmage of the Quorum of the Twelve,” Prepared and issued under the direction of the General Authorities of the Church, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1916. Lectures on JESUS THE CHRIST, Extension Publications, Adult Education and Extension Services (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University, Sept. 1963). This document covers lectures January-March 1963. Of interest is the following editorial by Elder Mark E. Petersen of the Quorum of the Twelve, which appeared in the Church News, 17 Apr. 1983:
We Need to be Orthodox
IT SEEMS THAT there has always been a tendency on the part of some to speculate concerning our doctrines and to “enlarge upon them” with their own private notions, thus leading others astray.
Teachers have no right to mislead anyone by introducing unorthodox notions. And how do we define that which is unorthodox?
It is doctrine approved by the First Presidency of the Church. The prophet, seer and revelator determines what is true doctrine. Those who advocate teachings contrary to those approved by the First Presidency place themselves and others in an untenable position.
How shall we know what is truth? The scriptures are the foundation of our teachings and they do not change. President Joseph Fielding Smith once said, “If I say anything that is contrary to the scriptures, the scriptures prevail.”
That is the way it must be with all of us. The scriptures prevail!
To meet this situation in the days of President Joseph F. Smith, the First Presidency authorized Elder James E. Talmage of the Council of the Twelve to write two books: Jesus the Christ and The Articles of Faith.
THE BOOKS WERE COMMISSIONED by the First Presidency, edited by the First Presidency and distributed by them to the Church to help everyone understand the truth. These books still fulfill that purpose.
58. Malcolm R. Thorpe, “James E. Talmage and the Tradition of the Victorian Lives of Jesus,” Sunstone 12 (Jan. 1988): 8-13. Also see Anthony A. Hutchinson, “LDS Approaches to the Bible,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 15 (Spring 1982): 104-105.
61. James E. Talmage, “Latter-day Saints and the Bible,” delivered at the 84th annual conference, 5 Apr. 1914, and “The Book of Mormon and the Book of Isaiah,” delivered at the 99th annual conference, 6 Apr. 1929. Talmage Journal, 27 Mar. 1904, mentions that he gave a talk on “The Higher Criticism” to the 27th Ward Mutual Improvement Association. There does not seem to be a written copy of this talk. Talmage was not the only church authority who wrote and spoke on Higher Criticism. See B. H. Roberts, “Higher Criticism and the Book of Mormon,” Improvement Era 14 (June 1911): 665-77 and (July 1911): 774-86.
The following entry from the “Record dated Aug. 20, 1878” by fifteen-year-old James Talmage (Talmage Papers, Box 9, Folder 5), comes from the section on “Theology,” 96-97.
XXVII “Son of Man”—Why so called?
In several passages Christ is termed the son of man. Many of the prophets have been addressed by God as Son of Man; but Christ is the only one who calls himself so however. “The Man” is Adam, hence we may say son of Adam. Christ speaks of himself as such because he was preeminently the son of Adam:—”before Abraham was I.” He refers by this that he is the firstborn of his Father. We are all children of God, but [p.xlii]Christ being the oldest, he is termed the son, just as the crown prince is termed the prince: whereas all the sons and daughters of the king, are princes and princesses.
64. Talmage Journal, 10 May 1915. The version contained herein is from the original proof sheets. For two other instances of post-conference editing, see Stan Larson, ed., The Truth, The Way, The Life, by B. H. Roberts (San Francisco: Smith Research Associates, 1994), lvii-lviii and references; and Peggy Fletcher, “Poelman Revises Conference Speech,” Sunstone 10 (1985), 1:44-46.
67. “Sets Example for His Elders—Six Year Old Would Enlist,” underneath, a smaller headline reading, “John Russell Talmage Offers Services to Country; Recruiting Goes On,” Salt Lake Tribune, 31 Mar. 1917.
68. Talmage Story, 194; for a comprehensive listing of the circulation of the “Vitality of Mormonism” articles, see The Talmage Papers, Box 23, Folder 16; Box 24, Folders 1-4. James E. Talmage, The Vitality of Mormonism (Boston: The Gorham Press, 1919).
70. Talmage Journal, same date; Improvement Era 22 (Dec. 1918): 166-70; Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1919), 472-76. Also see D&C, explanatory introduction, and PGP, introductory note. For proceedings of the canonization process, see One Hundred Forty-Sixth Annual Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 3, 4, 6 Apr. 1976, p. 29; and Ensign 6 (May 1976): 19.
74. Ibid., 208-209. In his journals Talmage makes numerous references to setting missionaries apart. The following incident is recorded in the family history of Crozier Kimball, who was set apart by Elder Talmage on 30 October 1928: “Elder James E. Talmage of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, set Crozier apart for this mission [to New Martinsville, West Virginia]. In the [p.xliii]middle of his prayer he hesitated for a few moments. Then he said, ‘Brother Kimball, I see people gathering in crowds to hear the gospel from your lips this winter.’ The promise was fulfilled; Crozier did speak to crowds and groups of people much more than to single individuals during this mission. He later said that groups of people would gather and stand in snow up to the tops of their shoes to hear him preach the gospel.” See Marva Jeanne Kimball Pedersen, Crozier Kimball: His Life and Work/Vaughn Robert Kimball (Bountiful, UT: Crozier Kimball Family, Carr Printing, 1995), xx, 231.
75. Latter-day Revelation—Selections from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Published by the Church, 1930); no author is indicated. In his journal dated 22 Nov. 1930, Talmage records the following, “I had the pleasure of presenting to the First Presidency advance copies of the little book ‘Latter-day Revelation’ which is described on the title page as ‘Selections from the book of Doctrine and Covenants.’ The selections were decided upon by the First Presidency and the Twelve and the matter of arranging, editing, proofreading, etc., has been under my immediate direction, and I must be held personally responsible for the correctness of the type and matter.” Talmage also reviewed the book in the Improvement Era 34 (May 1931): 427, and may have been responsible for the official announcement in the Deseret News, 24 Nov. 1931.
76. For a comprehensive analysis of the “Roberts/Smith/Talmage Affair,” see Duane E. Jeffery, “Seers, Savants and Evolution: The Uncomfortable Interface,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 8 (Autumn/Winter 1973): 41-75; Richard Sherlock, “‘We Can See No Advantage to a Continuation of the Discussion’: The Roberts/Smith/Talmage Affair,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 13 (Fall 1980): 63-78; and Jeffrey Keller, “Discussion Continued: The Sequel to the Roberts/Smith/Talmagc Affair,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 15 (Spring 1982): 79-98. All three articles and others are reprinted in Search for Harmony. Also see Larson, The Truth, The Way, The Life. Larson’s introduction is instructive as is the appendix which features “Correspondence Related to ‘The Truth, The Way, The Life,'” 653-80. A listing of letters by James E. Talmage, Sterling Talmage, John A. Widtsoe, Joseph Fielding Smith, and others pertaining to the evolution controversy can be found on the Internet under the title “The Sterling B. Talmage Papers (Accn724) Inventory at http://www.lib.utah.edu/ spc/mss/accn724/accn724.html’; these documents arc housed at the Marriott Library, University of Utah. Also see James B. Allen, “The Story of The Truth, The Way, The Life,” Brigham Young University Studies 33 (1993), 4:690-741.
77. There are three different printings of “The Earth and Man,” the first [p.xliv]being the Deseret News version of 21 Nov. 1931; the second is the pamphlet of the same name; and the third is a reprint in The Instructor 100 (Dec. 1965: 474-77, and 101 (Jan. 1966:9-11, 15. There are discrepancies among the versions, most notably changes in the order of paragraphs in the Instructor reprint.
82. To investigate this claim, I contacted Dennis Rowley, who said after a thorough review of the Talmage journals and other papers, he found no evidence for this claim. I also inquired at Princeton University (where Einstein taught). To date, no mention of Talmage has been found in the papers of Albert Einstein. Finally, John R. Talmage, the last living child of Elder Talmage, reported to me that the rumor was not true.
83. My purpose in mentioning this incident is to lay these rumors to rest, not to be controversial or to excuse such behavior. I have encountered several variations of the smoking story, and each differs from the original account.
84. Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses—Delivered by President Wilford Woodruff, His Two Counselors, The Twelve Apostles and Others (Burbank, CA: B. H. S. Publishing, 1991, 4:281-86. Talmage Journal, 6 Apr. 1895.
86. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, 1st ed., 459-60; 1924 ed., 447-49. Also see Talmage, Jesus the Christ (1915), 29-31. Also Talmage, The Vitality of Mormonism, chap. 58, and Sunday Night Talks by Radio(Salt Lake City: Published by the Church, Deseret News, 1931), chap. 42, entitled “The Hygiene of the Soul.”