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The Jefferson Bible : the life and morals of…
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The Jefferson Bible : the life and morals of Jesus of Nazareth

by Thomas Jefferson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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"I too have made a wee little book, from the same materials, which I call the Philosophy of Jesus. it is a paradigma of his doctrines, made by cutting the texts out of the book, and arranging them on the pages of a blank book, in a certain order of time or subject. a more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen. it is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus, very different from the Platonists, who call me infidel, and themselves Christians and preachers of the gospel, while they draw all their characteristic dogmas from what it’s Author never said nor saw. they have compounded from the system heathen mysteries a system beyond the comprehension of man, of which the great reformer of the vicious ethics and deism of the Jews, were he to return on earth, would not recognise one feature. if I had time I would add to my little book the Greek, Latin and French texts, in columns side by side, and I wish I could subjoin a translation of Gassendi’s Syntagma of the doctrines of Epicurus, which, notwithstanding the calumnies of the Stoics, and caricatures of Cicero, is the most rational system remaining of the philosophy of the ancients, as frugal of vicious indulgence, and fruitful of virtue as the hyperbolical extravagancies of his rival sects." — Thomas Jefferson to Charles Thomson, 9 January 1816 [PTJ:RS, 9:340-342]

" . . . the greatest of all the Reformers of the depraved religion of his own country, was Jesus of Nazareth. abstracting what is really his from the rubbish in which it is buried, easily distinguished by it’s lustre from the dross of his biographers, and as separable from that as the diamond from the dung hill, we have the outlines of a system of the most sublime morality which has ever fallen from the lips of man . . . I have sometimes thought of translating Epictetus (for he has never been tolerably translated into English) of adding the genuine doctrines of Epicurus from the Syntagma of Gassendi, and an Abstract from the Evangelists of whatever has the stamp of the eloquence and fine imagination of Jesus. the last I attempted too hastily some 12. or 15. years ago. it was the work of 2. or 3. nights only at Washington, after getting thro’ the evening task of reading the letters and papers of the day." — Thomas Jefferson to William Short, 31 October 1819

"I separate therefore the gold from the dross; restore to him the former, & leave the latter to the stupidity of some, and roguery of others of his disciples. of this band of dupes and impostors, Paul was the great Coryphaeus, and first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus. these palpable interpolations and falsifications of his doctrines led me to try to sift them apart. I found the work obvious and easy, and that his part composed the most beautiful morsel of morality which has been given to us by man . . . I read them as I do those of other antient and modern moralists, with a mixture of approbation and dissent." — Thomas Jefferson to William Short, 13 April 1820

"it is surely time for men to think for themselves, and to throw off the authority of names so artificially magnified . . . this free exercise of reason is all I ask for the vindication of the character of Jesus. we find in the writings of his biographers matter of two distinct descriptions. first a ground work of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstitions, fanaticisms, & fabrications. intermixed with these again are sublime ideas of the supreme being, aphorisms and precepts of the purest morality & benevolence, sanctioned by a life of humility, innocence, and simplicity of manners, neglect of riches, absence of worldly ambition & honors, with an eloquence and persuasiveness which have not been surpassed. these could not be inventions of the grovelling authors who relate them. they are far beyond the powers of their feeble minds. they shew that there was a character, the subject of their history, whose splendid conceptions were above all suspicion of being interpolations from their hands. can we be at a loss in separating such materials, & ascribing each to it’s genuine author? the difference is obvious to the eye and to the understanding, and we may read; as we run, to each his part; and I will venture to affirm that he who, as I have done, will undertake to winnow this grain from it’s chaff, will find it not to require a moment’s consideration. the parts fall asunder of themselves as would those of an image of metal & clay. There are, I acknolege, passages not free from objection, which we may with probability ascribe to Jesus himself; but claiming indulgence for the circumstances under which he acted. his object was the reformation of some articles in the religion of the Jews, as taught by Moses." — Thomas Jefferson to William Short, 4 August 1820
  ThomasJefferson | Sep 17, 2014 |
Truly a fast read. I think all the essentials for following in Christ's path can be found here. I have always thought Jefferson was a little misunderstood by those who have generally read history, and much maligned by those who didn't dig deeper. Those who didn't dig deeper really don't have much of an understanding of theism and its break from religion and religious practices. ( )
  mreed61 | Aug 10, 2014 |
Really interesting--not only the history of the book and of Jefferson's philosophy but actually the Bible itself. It's interesting to read the French text alongside the English (unfortunately, I can't read Greek or Latin), and it's also interesting to read just the moral philosophy of Christianity with the supernatural completely removed. I actually found that portion of the book much more engaging than I thought I would. Well worth the read. ( )
  TheBentley | Dec 5, 2013 |
This book is what it is. No miracles, no supernatural acts. This Jesus of Nazareth speaks with a sparseness and type of authority that convinces better than waiting for water to turn to wine.

I place more value in this attempt to uncover the real Christ than I do in the Jesus Seminar theologians "votes." Especially helpful are the citations at the end of the book. ( )
  kaulsu | Nov 18, 2013 |
Basically a "copy and paste" version of the highlights of the four gospels without all the repetition. It is a very short, condensed version of Christ's life starting with the birth of Jesus, goes through his childhood, selecting the diciples, beatitudes, Lord's prayer, and several of the more famous parables - the widow's mite, the adulteress, the good samaritan, the ten virgins. ends with the last supper and the crucifixion. Not a work of scripture that I would study intently or read again, but it was ok for a brief overview of the life of Christ. ( )
  berthacummins | Sep 4, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
A lovely addition to thoroughgoing Americana collections.
added by Christa_Josh | editBooklist, Ray Olson (Oct 15, 2011)
 

» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Thomas Jeffersonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Church, F. ForresterIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pelikan, JaroslavAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Haiku summary
Tom's Jesus needs no
Superstitious nonsense nor
Careless damnation.
(paradoxosalpha)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0807077143, Hardcover)

We must reduce our volume to the simple evangelists, select, even from them, the very words only of Jesus. There will be remaining the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man.—Thomas Jefferson

Featuring an introduction by Forrest Church, this reissue of The Jefferson Bible offers extraordinary insight into the logic of Thomas Jefferson and the Gospel of Jesus. Working in the White House in 1804, Jefferson set out to edit the Gospels in order to uncover the essence of true religion in the simple story of the life of Jesus. Jefferson was convinced that the authentic message of Jesus could be found only by extracting from the Gospels Jesus's message of absolute love and service, rather than the miracle of the Annunciation, Virgin Birth, or even the Resurrection. Completed in 1819, this little book is the remarkable result of Jefferson's efforts.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:22 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Contains the chronicles of Jesus from the New Testament, selected and arranged from the original text by President Jefferson himself.

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