Outside of the scriptures, my favorite book is “Jesus the Christ” by James Talmage. I fell in love with its wonderful essay on the life and times of Jesus Christ. I bought a small copy of it in July of 1975 just as I left for a two-year full-time mission for the church. Because of its compact nature I carried it in my breast shirt pocket the entire two years. In Argentina, where I served, there was much wasted time spent traveling on buses and trains. My mission covered about one thousand three hundred miles, Talmage’s masterpiece served as a ready companion and constant source of enlightenment. As soon as I finished it, I started to re-read it again. Over those two years I ended up reading its contents eight times. I credit it with giving me a fundamental understanding of the New Testament and of the character of Jesus Christ as our Savior. The years went by and I held on to my cherished copy. That same copy has since accompanied three of my sons on missions, to California, Colorado, and Mexico. They too have read it, and testified of the inspiring nature of its pages.
In its introduction, James Talmage gives us this thought:
“Mankind has never produced a leader to rank with Him. Regarded solely as a historic personage He is unique. Judged by the standard of human estimation, Jesus of Nazareth is supreme among men by reason of the excellence of His personal character, the simplicity, beauty, and genuine worth of His precepts, and the influence of His example and doctrines in the advancement of the race. To these distinguishing characteristics of surpassing greatness the devout Christian soul adds an attribute that far exceeds the sum of all the others—the divinity of Christ’s origin and the eternal reality of His status as Lord and God.”
Later on in the introduction he added:
“…man never lived of whom more has been said and sung, none to whom is devoted a greater proportion of the world’s literature. He is extolled by Christian, Mohammedan and Jew, by skeptic and infidel, by the world’s greatest poets, philosophers, statesmen, scientists, and historian. Even the profane sinner in the foul, sacrilege of his oath acclaims the divine supremacy of Him whose name he desecrates.”
I would recommend to anyone that is seeking additional knowledge regarding the Savior’s life, that they put Talmage’s masterpiece at the top of their reading list. Apparently Paul the apostle, gave much value to good books when he wrote to Timothy from the mission field, “Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me…The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.” (2 Timothy 4: 9,13)
May we take the time to read good books that are worthy of our time. The scriptures are certainly the primary source of our reading but as Gordon B. Hinckley stated so beautifully, “There is so much of wonderful reading available. We are not likely to ever get too much of it.” (“Gambling”, April 2005 GC).