The Secrets Of Jefferson’s Bible

A close-up of the one of the source books shows Jefferson's meticulous excisions. Source: Smithsonian National Museum of American History (CC)

A close-up of the one of the source books shows Jefferson's meticulous excisions. Source: Smithsonian National Museum of American History (CC)

Mitch Horowitz, perhaps the leading editor of occult books working today, ponders how The Jefferson Bible might have changed history, for CNN:

Imagine the following scenario: A U.S. president is discovered to be spending his spare time taking a razor to the New Testament, cutting up and re-pasting those passages of the Gospels that he considered authentic and morally true and discarding all the rest.

Gone are the virgin birth, divine healings, exorcisms and the resurrection of the dead, all of which the chief executive dismissed as “superstitions, fanaticisms and fabrications.”

Such an episode occurred, although the revised version of Scripture remained unseen for nearly seven decades after its abridger’s death. Thomas Jefferson intended it that way.

During most of his two terms in the White House, from 1801 to 1809, and for more than a decade afterward, Jefferson – the third U.S. president and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence – committed himself to a radical reinterpretation of the Gospels.

With a razor and glue brush at this side, Jefferson lined up English, French, Greek and Latin editions of Scripture and proceeded to cut up and reassemble the four Gospels into an exquisitely well-crafted, multilingual chronology of Christ’s life.

In Jefferson’s view, this revision represented a faithful record of Christ’s moral code, minus the miracles that the Enlightenment-era founder dismissed as historical mythmaking…

[continues at CNN]

, ,

14 Responses to The Secrets Of Jefferson’s Bible

  1. Liam_McGonagle January 12, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    Someone should publish a contemporary English-language version of Jefferson’s edits.  I may not agree, but it’d be interesting.

    • Rufus January 12, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

      My thoughts exactly.

      • Liam_McGonagle January 12, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

        :(  Looks like someone beat us to the punch.

        Hence the fairly obvious link to the advert in the first para.

        Mea culpa.

    • Calicoengland January 13, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

      I live in Toronto.As a matter of fact,there are copies of this book in our public library system,,three of them.They are published by Beacon Press,Boston,1989.

  2. Anonymous January 12, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

    Someone should publish a contemporary English-language version of Jefferson’s edits.  I may not agree, but it’d be interesting.

  3. Rufus January 12, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

    My thoughts exactly.

  4. Anonymous January 12, 2012 at 6:04 pm #

    :(  Looks like someone beat us to the punch.

    Hence the fairly obvious link to the advert in the first para.

    Mea culpa.

  5. Ammar Mariti January 12, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

    i may not agree with your opinions, but i will fight to the death to defend your right to convey it.

  6. Ammar Mariti January 12, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

    i may not agree with your opinions, but i will fight to the death to defend your right to convey it.

  7. emperorreagan January 12, 2012 at 4:58 pm #

    Conservative religious people tend to be quick to ignore the history of religion in the United States, through a careful mix of ignoring what people actually wrote/said and posthumous mythologizing of the “founding fathers.”

    Jefferson wasn’t alone among the founders in having unorthodox religious views as compared to many espoused today.  Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe had religious views that fall under deism or unitarianism – the first five presidents would not be considered Christians at all by the American right wing were they to talk about their views of Jesus and religion today.  Then there are the other guys like Franklin and Paine who could hardly be numbered among Christians, according to the beliefs espoused by the people who tend to be concerned with the US being founded by Christians.  Among the most influential of the men who founded the country, you’ll find very few people of the nutso-evangelical or literalist bent that grips the religious dialogue of today.  

    Of course since Jefferson left undeniable evidence rather than a bunch of letters, diaries, and/or quotes that people can ignore, Texas wants to write him out of history.

  8. emperorreagan January 12, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

    Conservative religious people tend to be quick to ignore the history of religion in the United States, through a careful mix of ignoring what people actually wrote/said and posthumous mythologizing of the “founding fathers.”

    Jefferson wasn’t alone among the founders in having unorthodox religious views as compared to many espoused today.  Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe had religious views that fall under deism or unitarianism – the first five presidents would not be considered Christians at all by the American right wing were they to talk about their views of Jesus and religion today.  Then there are the other guys like Franklin and Paine who could hardly be numbered among Christians, according to the beliefs espoused by the people who tend to be concerned with the US being founded by Christians.  Among the most influential of the men who founded the country, you’ll find very few people of the nutso-evangelical or literalist bent that grips the religious dialogue of today.  

    Of course since Jefferson left undeniable evidence rather than a bunch of letters, diaries, and/or quotes that people can ignore, Texas wants to write him out of history.

  9. madmonq January 13, 2012 at 3:54 am #

    Can you imagine if a modern American politician tried this?  Taking a razor blade to the good book like a pimp dealing with one of his hos?  Oh wait: Newt Gingrich.  But change ‘hos’ to ‘ex-wifes.’

  10. postpunkprometheus January 12, 2012 at 11:54 pm #

    Can you imagine if a modern American politician tried this?  Taking a razor blade to the good book like a pimp dealing with one of his hos?  Oh wait: Newt Gingrich.  But change ‘hos’ to ‘ex-wifes.’

  11. Calicoengland January 14, 2012 at 12:36 am #

    I live in Toronto.As a matter of fact,there are copies of this book in our public library system,,three of them.They are published by Beacon Press,Boston,1989.

Leave a Reply