James E. Talmage and the Tradition of Victorian Lives of Jesus
Salt Lake City, UT
Sunstone Education Foundation
James E. Talmage was one of the most influential men in systemizing the theology of the LDS Church, and his book, Jesus the Christ, is his masterpiece. This provocative article explores other lives of Jesus that preceded Talmage, and argues that much of Talmage was based on these Victorian predecessors. A book by Daniel Pal, published in 1982, tries to demonstrate the similarity in approach of the various Victorian biographies of Jesus, and his discussion of Frederick W. Farrar, J. Cunningham Geikie, and Alfred Edersheim is particularly important for Talmage used these authors extenisively in his work. The narrative of the life of Jesus follows closely the sequence established by Farrar and his followers, for example, and Thorp also shows that Talmage borrowed several ideas from them. In addition, Talmage accepted the Biblical literalism of his day, and he tended to diminish the seriousness of any differences between the gospels.