My Christmas was perfect: a low-key morning with a two-year-old who enjoyed just a little bit at a time; a leisurely and delicious brunch; plus a few hours of intense “kids-running-around-at-Grandma’s” visiting with family. A nice balance, and a fun time.
In terms of reading, I finished off my biography of Jesus on December 26. I was right: December was the ideal month for reading James E. Talmage’s 700+ page tome. Part gospel harmony, part historical explanation, and part doctrinal interpretation, Jesus the Christ follows the pre-mortal, mortal, and post-mortal mission of the Savior by interpreting the scriptures.
Talmage wrote his book in the first two decades of the twentieth century, in an era before computers could have helped him put things in order. The seamless nature of his book is therefore all the more impressive to me. Besides that, I really did enjoy the outmoded writing style. While Talmage’s scholarly tone makes it difficult to read quickly at first, I found it beautiful (and not as difficult) once I got used to it. It is clear Talmage is a Bible scholar, and he clarifies the context of the parables, the Jewish dissension, and other aspects of New Testament life with which I was unfamiliar: Talmage puts the New Testament events in context.
Talmage is also a scholar of Mormon doctrine, as his research and commentary gave me insights into the continuing nature of the mission of Jesus Christ. While he only briefly referred to the pre-mortal and post-mortal ministry of the Savior, he did regularly complement his New Testament commentary with references to Latter-day scripture.
As a whole, the book certainly focuses on the Latter-day Saint doctrines of the Savior, and therefore, I am not certain non-Mormon readers would find it so engaging or satisfying. Even Mormon readers need to keep in mind that this volume in one man’s interpretation of the key events and scriptures: I didn’t necessarily agree with all his doctrinal interpretations, and it’s interesting to consider the past 100 years of further gospel insight as I read. Talmage’s volume, although rather comprehensive, is still flawed and incomplete. Yet, reading it had encouraged me to better delve into the scriptures on my own and seek guidance and direction by reading the words of the living prophets.
This blog is not primarily a religious blog: it’s a reading blog. I’ll therefore keep this post brief by saying that I’m grateful I finely did submerge myself in this volume. While I was intimidated by its length and it does have some flaws, I found Jesus the Christ ultimately rewarding, especially at this Christmas season.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
We have this gorgeous illustrated edition on our coffee table, and I love browsing through my favorite pictures of Christ.