More than a year ago, I decided to study Jesus The Christ by Elder James E. Talmage of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I even purchased a study guide to increase the benefits of my study. When I went to my book shelves to get my book, it was not there. I looked and looked but could not find it. Later I discovered that my son had borrowed it. By the time he finished studying it, I was deep into my college classes. I did not think I had time to study another book, but I still felt drawn to it.
Yesterday I made the decision to study Jesus The Christ, even if I can read only a page or two per day. I was fascinated by the information about Elder Talmage in the study guide and decided to do a little more research on him. You are the beneficiary of that research.
James E. Talmage was born in Hungerford, Berkshire, England, on September 21, 1862. He was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on June 15, 1873, at the age of 10. Four years later in 1877, he and his family moved to Provo, Utah Territory. He studied at Brigham Young Academy (BYA) and graduated in 1880. (The academy is now Brigham Young University.) One of his teachers was Karl G. Maeser.
“In 1881, Talmage received a collegiate diploma from BYA’s Scientific Department, the first such diploma to be issued. His early predilection was for the sciences, and in 1882 and 1883 he took selected courses in chemistry and geology at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
“Though a special student and not a candidate for a degree, during his single year Talmage passed nearly all the examinations required in the four-year course....
“Talmage studied chemistry and geology at Lehigh University and John Hopkins University. He received a B.S. degree from Lehigh University in 1891 and a Ph.D. from Illinois Wesleyan University for nonresident work in 1896….
“Talmage was elected to life membership in several learned societies…. [He] taught science at BYA both before and after he went to study in the eastern United States. He was the president of Latter-day Saints’ University [now LDS Business School] until 1894 and then was president of the University of Deseret [now University of Utah] from 1894 to 1897. From 1897 to 1907, Talmage was a professor of geology at the University of Utah.”
Merry May Booth (1868-1944) was only 16 years old when she starting studying at BYA. Talmage was one of her instructors. After completing her course of study, Booth was hired as a teacher in Kaysville, Utah. Talmage went to the area to “study the waters of the Great Salt Lake” as an excuse to pursue a relationship with Booth. They were married five months later on June 14, 1888, in the Manti LDS Temple. They became the parents of eight children.
Talmage authored numerous books, including The Articles of Faith, The Great Apostasy, The House of the Lord, and Jesus The Christ. These volumes are still in print and widely read in the Church. Jesus the Christ is the only book written in the Salt Lake Temple.
Talmage became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1911 until his death on July 27, 1933, at age 70 in Salt Lake City. He was buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.