Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Jefferson Bible

The Washington Post reported last week that the Smithsonian will spend nearly a quarter of a million dollars to restore The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, better known as the Jefferson Bible. 

The Jefferson Bible--and yes, we're talking about Thomas, not George and Weezy--is the third president's cut-and-paste job on the New Testament.  Simply, it's Jesus, redacted. 

Jefferson used an actual knife to slice and splice six books--in four different languages--in creating his own version of the Christian Messiah. The "Bible" is that scrapbook--a text unknown to the public until around the turn of the last century.

But in the process of building his new scripture, Jefferson makes real changes to the text, all of which shed light on the founding father's religiosity.  For Jefferson, it seems, Jesus was just a man with a message--not a god with a healing touch.  Hence, in recreating The Life, he excised passages that display Christ's miraculous powers.  Even more, he deleted the resurrection. (It is said that Jefferson didn't want anyone to know about his Bible, because he didn't want to add fuel to critics' claims that he was anti-Christian.)

So, what exactly is Jesus then, if he can't raise the dead--or be raised from the dead?  I'll let you decide for yourself.  Not too long ago, Beliefnet.org posted a full translation of the Jefferson Bible; you can find it here

For my money, Thomas Jefferson's Jesus doesn't look too different from the Jesus of another Thomas, the author of the apocryphal Gospel of ThomasThat gospel, which didn't make it into the Bible, provides unique perspectives on Jesus's message--while leaving out all the miraculous mumbo-jumbo. 

Sorry.  I started channeling Thomas Jefferson for a second.  Enjoy!

5 comments:

  1. Whoa! I never thought there's such a thing as The Jefferson Bible. I didn't know that for some reasons until I found this site. Great write-ups! I'm a fan, now!

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  2. I never knew about the Jefferson Bible until recently; I now have an even deeper respect for the True Father of our Democracy. Thank you for sharing this...

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  3. This site is clearly an anti Christian hate site. I've read the genealogies in mathew and Luke and there are only difficulties if you have a closed mind. The genealogies are different because one is for josephs line and the other is for mary. A person with a p.h.d. Should do his homework.

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  4. Anonymous 2 ... this site is neither "anti-Christian" nor "pro-Christian." It's simply a space to promote honest reading of the Bible without any specific religious agenda.

    Further, both Luke and Matthew's genealogies appear to trace Jesus's male ancestry--that is, through Joseph's line. And they do disagree: Matthew 1 indicates that Joseph's father is "Jacob" while Luke 3 calls Joseph's father "Heli."

    Finally, I do not believe that pointing out such discrepancies is "anti-Christian." Further, I don't think Christians need to force false consistency on first-century texts to be devout. But that's just my take; thanks for reading anyway--though it sounds like you won't be back.

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  5. Heli was mary's father and he had no male heirs, so Joseph being married into the family took the place of Mary in the genealogy according to custom. Num 27:1-11;36:1-12. This would also explain why there are more generations in one than the other.

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