A new exhibit in the L. Tom Perry Special Collections of the Lee Library commemorates the centennial anniversary of one of the most recognized books in LDS culture, “Jesus the Christ.”
The exhibit contains some of James E. Talmage’s personal journals with special insights on the process of writing the book. Ryan K. Lee, a curator of 19th Century Mormon and Western Manuscripts for the L. Tom Perry Special Collections, was a co-curator for this exhibit. Lee said he was impressed with the historical value of the journals.
“The personal journals of Elder Talmage are a wonderful record that provides great details into the history of the Church at a time of great transition from the pioneer era to a more modern era, including details on many important events of the time and Talmage’s role in them,” Lee said.
The exhibit also showcases different editions of “Jesus the Christ,” including a first-edition copy signed by the First Presidency. Visitors can view later editions of the book, copies of the book that have been translated into different languages and an audio-visual presentation on Elder Talmage.
Talmage wrote “Jesus the Christ” over the course of a year and had researched Christ’s life and teachings extensively before beginning the writing process. Talmage was given a room in the Salt Lake Temple for the specific purpose of writing the book.
Talmage’s most famous work, “Jesus the Christ” was originally published in September 1915 and remains popular today both inside and outside of the LDS Church. The book is one of the few works outside of the scriptures that is included in the official full-time missionary library.
Mason Foster, a junior from Sandpoint, Idaho studying electrical engineering, said “Jesus the Christ” helped him learn about Christ in a new way.
“It has really helped strengthen my testimony by strengthening my understanding of Christ’s teachings,” Foster said. “Talmage examines Christ’s life and teachings from an academic standpoint, which gives a whole new dimension to my understanding of Christ.”
Gerrit van Dyk, a Mormon history and doctrine librarian, was a co-curator for the exhibit with Lee. Van Dyk said that he believes the book resonates with so many people because of its portrayal of the Savior.
“There’s always a certain amount of intimacy in the text,” van Dyk said. “You really understand or can grasp a little bit better how the Savior dealt with individuals. I think it’s easy for us to then put ourselves in the place of those people. If he was able to make those kind of connections with individuals way back then, then surely we can have an intimate relationship with Him also.”
The exhibit is free and located on the first floor of the HBLL.