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The Jefferson Bible, Smithsonian Limited Edition: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth

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This volume is an important clarification of the controversial religious beliefs of one of our most unorthodox but ethically committed presidents. Printed here are the facsimile texts of Jefferson's two compilations of Jesus' words. Originally published in 1983. The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of- This volume is an important clarification of the controversial religious beliefs of one of our most unorthodox but ethically committed presidents. Printed here are the facsimile texts of Jefferson's two compilations of Jesus' words. Originally published in 1983. The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.


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This volume is an important clarification of the controversial religious beliefs of one of our most unorthodox but ethically committed presidents. Printed here are the facsimile texts of Jefferson's two compilations of Jesus' words. Originally published in 1983. The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of- This volume is an important clarification of the controversial religious beliefs of one of our most unorthodox but ethically committed presidents. Printed here are the facsimile texts of Jefferson's two compilations of Jesus' words. Originally published in 1983. The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

30 review for The Jefferson Bible, Smithsonian Limited Edition: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kenny

    Though often claimed by anti-religionists as a Deist, Jefferson states flatly, referring to this cut-and-paste version of the New Testament: "It is a document in proof that I am a REAL CHRISTIAN, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus" (his emphasis). But note the distinction: Jefferson calls himself a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus, not a disciple of Jesus himself. This is a serious difference, as his discomfort with and his disbelief in the supernatural aspects of the story of Though often claimed by anti-religionists as a Deist, Jefferson states flatly, referring to this cut-and-paste version of the New Testament: "It is a document in proof that I am a REAL CHRISTIAN, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus" (his emphasis). But note the distinction: Jefferson calls himself a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus, not a disciple of Jesus himself. This is a serious difference, as his discomfort with and his disbelief in the supernatural aspects of the story of Jesus led him to to excise all such events in his edit of the Gospels. Thus there is no walking on water, no calming the storm, no feeding the five thousand, no recalling Lazarus to life, and no resurrection of Jesus himself. But what remains is the pure doctrine of Jesus, which Jefferson (and I as well) view as the most spectacular recipe for living well and happily ever propounded. "Love thy neighbor as thyself" is the simplest and yet the hardest advice ever given, but no one can dispute its power to transform a life and change the world. I can't help but believe that even had Jesus performed the miracles and risen from the dead, even if he was the literal Son of God, his understanding of his own doctrine would lead him to discount those very miracles in favor of his desire that we benefit from his teachings and thus obtain eternal life. I find that the part of me that loves the miracles and fantastic stories about Jesus is a child who is looking for a parent, but the part of me that loves Jesus' pure and difficult teachings is the adult who seeks a guide. Either way, like Jefferson, I strive to be a disciple of Jesus and found in this short book ample food for thought.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    As a deist, Thomas Jefferson believed in God as the ultimate creator and believed Jesus to be the greatest moral teacher. This collection of writings confirms his staunch belief in reason over faith. Jefferson believed that the Bible was imperfect insofar as it contained the works of corrupt individuals who sought to use Christianity as a means to control people. What amazes me the most is how little a role religion played in the election of Thomas Jefferson in both 1800 and 1804. People furious As a deist, Thomas Jefferson believed in God as the ultimate creator and believed Jesus to be the greatest moral teacher. This collection of writings confirms his staunch belief in reason over faith. Jefferson believed that the Bible was imperfect insofar as it contained the works of corrupt individuals who sought to use Christianity as a means to control people. What amazes me the most is how little a role religion played in the election of Thomas Jefferson in both 1800 and 1804. People furiously attacked Jefferson, labeling him as an atheist, but somehow he was still elected. It is very interesting to note that this would not occur in today's environment. He wrote this book because he knew he was not an atheist or without a sense of morality like his enemies claimed. He believed religion to be very personal, between a man and his god. This is why he did not bother with answering questions of his religion since he believed his moral system was clearly intact, and he was consistent in that he did not require to know the religion of others. As history notes, he was a proponent of religious freedom. After reading his extracts, it is very easy to see why. Perhaps the best experience of reading this collection is my personal recognition of Thomas Jefferson not only as a President, but also as a great philosopher.

  3. 4 out of 5

    David

    This book is Thomas Jefferson's attempt to distill from the gospels the ethical teachings of Jesus. It presents Jesus purely as a teacher; no chorus of angels marks his birth, he performs no miracles, and the book ends with his burial. The result is a short, 92 page volume that's easy to read in spite of being written in the same archaic style of English as the King James Bible. The obvious audience for this book is atheists and agnostics who want a view of Jesus's teachings that's free of, as Je This book is Thomas Jefferson's attempt to distill from the gospels the ethical teachings of Jesus. It presents Jesus purely as a teacher; no chorus of angels marks his birth, he performs no miracles, and the book ends with his burial. The result is a short, 92 page volume that's easy to read in spite of being written in the same archaic style of English as the King James Bible. The obvious audience for this book is atheists and agnostics who want a view of Jesus's teachings that's free of, as Jefferson put it, "the corruptions of reason among the ancients." I think even devout Christians might find it useful, though, because it presents a concise, uncluttered view of Jesus's ethical teachings.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Anna Kuhl

    I found myself missing the miracles. And although I did love reading the moral-based stories, there was still repetition amongst them. You would think Jefferson could have trimmed the fat, so to speak, and removed the duplicates. But overall a nice summary of Jesus' teachings. I found myself missing the miracles. And although I did love reading the moral-based stories, there was still repetition amongst them. You would think Jefferson could have trimmed the fat, so to speak, and removed the duplicates. But overall a nice summary of Jesus' teachings.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    To thoroughly grasp the hubris, imagine it in modern day: a US president whose religious beliefs are widely regarded as insufficient and blasphemous towards Christian doctrine, deciding that he doesn't really care for the Bible as it's written--too many miracles, and that Paul character, he's gotta go--so he'll just take some scissors, snip out the good parts, and rearrange them into a better order. Clearly, Thomas Jefferson predated cable news networks. Apparently, the Jefferson Bible is now di To thoroughly grasp the hubris, imagine it in modern day: a US president whose religious beliefs are widely regarded as insufficient and blasphemous towards Christian doctrine, deciding that he doesn't really care for the Bible as it's written--too many miracles, and that Paul character, he's gotta go--so he'll just take some scissors, snip out the good parts, and rearrange them into a better order. Clearly, Thomas Jefferson predated cable news networks. Apparently, the Jefferson Bible is now distributed to members of the US Congress; I can't help but wonder how many of them have actually read it before lauding the Protestant religiosity of founding fathers. (The introductory matter in this edition claims that Jefferson's beliefs tended towards Unitarian, although it is published by the Unitarian church, and I'm having difficulty confirming anything more concrete than a "close alignment" with Unitarianism.) Jefferson doesn't set out as many religious scholars do in an attempt to quarantine a historical Jesus from the embellishments of later generations' evangelizing competitiveness. If this were his goal I would expect a heavier reliance on the earlier gospels, especially Mark, but this isn't the case; basically, Jefferson snips out the miraculous and supernatural, leaving barebones biographical detail and the words attributed to Jesus himself, and rearranges things into an approximation of Chronological order (though several of the stories that appear in more than one gospel are separated by several pages). The translation is King James with almost no deviations, despite Jefferson using a side-by-side English/French/Greek/Latin edition. (Again, here a modern dedicated biblical historian would, I imagine, try to go back to the most original texts possible, though one can imagine the limitations of this in 19th century Virginia.) One of the things that is both problematic and intensely lucky about Christianity, as opposed to more recent religions such as Islam, is that the details of Jesus's life and sayings were not recorded as they happened. We have, for example, a huge body of information via Hadiths and the Qu'ran about Muhammed that borders on TMI (a recent reading of Fatima Mernissi's The Veil and the Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation of Women's Rights in Islam underscored this to me). Without too much information on the trivial details of Jesus's life, Christians are free to deviate from them rather than have every small dietary or sartorial choice be regarded as a religious pronouncement. This, at least, is consistent with the message of Jesus in the gospels. The downside, of course, is the resultant disagreement over resolving conflicts among spiritual texts written long after the fact. The Jesus that is left after Jefferson's clippings is not unfamiliar, and perhaps more interesting for attracting followers through his Temple-reforming rabble rousing and philosophical questioning rather than miracle-performance. It worked well enough for Martin Luther, after all, I suppose. In the end, though, it probably gives more insight into Jefferson and his religious beliefs than it does into Christianity.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    My sister suggested I might get something out of this, after I'd been going on about how bogus everything in the bible is. That Thomas Jefferson took out all the supernatural elements from the Jesus mythology and humanized him and his moral lessons. It's cool that Jefferson was bold enough to attempt that, but it still didn't work for me because Jesus still waxes on about a supernatural god and heaven and hell and spirits, and a lot of his moral lessons are still based around those things, so ho My sister suggested I might get something out of this, after I'd been going on about how bogus everything in the bible is. That Thomas Jefferson took out all the supernatural elements from the Jesus mythology and humanized him and his moral lessons. It's cool that Jefferson was bold enough to attempt that, but it still didn't work for me because Jesus still waxes on about a supernatural god and heaven and hell and spirits, and a lot of his moral lessons are still based around those things, so how could a practical person make sense of it? It was an interesting exercise, but it didn't mend the overall flaws with the religion for me. I sort of mark this book as one of the last steps before I wrote off Christianity as anything useful in my life.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Bart Breen

    Says a Lot about Jefferson! Jefferson's Bible is an important work both for what it shows of a pivotal Founding Father and lynch-pin president, and what it doesn't show. Jefferson was neither the passionate Christian that some try to paint him as, nor was he the foaming at the mouth Deist that others attempt to paint him as. Jefferson was earlier in his life leaning more toward Deism and toward the end of his life best described as a Unitarian in the sense that the word was used in that day. In a Says a Lot about Jefferson! Jefferson's Bible is an important work both for what it shows of a pivotal Founding Father and lynch-pin president, and what it doesn't show. Jefferson was neither the passionate Christian that some try to paint him as, nor was he the foaming at the mouth Deist that others attempt to paint him as. Jefferson was earlier in his life leaning more toward Deism and toward the end of his life best described as a Unitarian in the sense that the word was used in that day. In an effort to paint their positions, camps from both sides fail to account for the fact that Jefferson was human and his journey through life developed his thinking in these areas and he showed progression and modification of his positions as learning and experience tempered them. Jefferson clearly rejected Trinitarian theology and believed the gospel narratives to be tarnished with later redaction by the early Church. His "Bible" as such was an attempt to cull out those redactions and isolate those words and teachings of Christ that reflect the moral code of Jesus Christ that Jefferson held to be the highest such teaching known to man. He was in effect trying to identify that theoretical "Q document" that Biblical Scholars from Jefferson's day until now believe existed which had only the words of Christ as he spoke them recorded. Jefferson's Bible demonstrates both Jefferson's judgement as to what true Christianity (by his definition) entailed, and also what was baggage and needed to be removed. Jefferson revered Christ's moral code and teachings, even as he rejected his deity. This is eminently clear in Jefferson's writings, especially in his lengthy, latter year correspondence with John Adams. Those who try and demonstrate Jefferson as to one side or the other demonstrate their own bias and need for Jefferson to be cast into their own camp. Don't make the same mistake. Read the text at face value and determine what it says to you about Jefferson. Then, if you want, wade into the swamp of what others want to tell you it says about Jefferson and his view of our nation. You'll be equipped to reject either extreme and let Jefferson speak for himself. Those who feel the need to cast stones at it for some felt need to protect the Bible miss the point. This is not about the Bible. The Bible has stood for centuries before Jefferson and will stand long after Jefferson is forgotten. It's about what Jefferson thought, and what he believed and should be read first and foremost from that position.

  8. 5 out of 5

    John Martindale

    Well, first off, this is the "Life and morals of Jesus of Nazareth" its not the "Jefferson bible," Jefferson would have been horrified if he learned someone took a book where he compiled the moral philosophy of Jesus and called it his bible. I have heard that according to the original preface, it was suppose to be for the native Indians, though there is no evidence of it reaching them, we have no right to create a new motive for Jefferson. Next, Jefferson cutting from a bible and pasting in anoth Well, first off, this is the "Life and morals of Jesus of Nazareth" its not the "Jefferson bible," Jefferson would have been horrified if he learned someone took a book where he compiled the moral philosophy of Jesus and called it his bible. I have heard that according to the original preface, it was suppose to be for the native Indians, though there is no evidence of it reaching them, we have no right to create a new motive for Jefferson. Next, Jefferson cutting from a bible and pasting in another book, is no reason for the delight and glee from secularist and horror from Christians. Think about it, Jefferson didn't have a computer where he could copy and paste the moral philosophy of Christ from the bible into a book, so he did exactly what I would do if I had several bibles. I personally once cut verses from a bible to paste in a painting, I suppose 200 years from now, someone will find the painting and think I was some anti-Christian, irreligious, bible hating deist, because I applied my scissors to the Holy Bible! Now as far as the content, so many of reviews just focus and delight on what is LEFT out and yet don't feel any discomfort about what is there. Though it is obvious that Jefferson didn't allow any of Jesus' miracles to be recorded and he didn't include the resurrection of Christ at the end, it is still rather interesting what he did leave in the so called "Jefferson bible." There is much more then moral teachings here. So yeah, for a so called "Secular humanist" among many atheist and a Deist among "Christians," how do they make sense of all Jefferson left in? For I suppose they must assume that Jefferson cut out all the supernatural crap he disagreed with, and what is left in the Jefferson bible is the "Diamonds from the dung hill". The way some reviewers are acting, I suppose we can say what Jefferson left in the Jefferson Bible, he approved of? So what are these diamonds salvaged from the dung hill? I just read the it and inside the "Jefferson bible" we find many examples of heaven, the fires of hell and both devils and angels. Also, most of Jesus' mentions of the second coming, the final Judgment, the Kingdom of God, salvation, Jesus' mighty works and that Jesus is the Son of God are all here! Jesus affirms the resurrection, Noah and the flood and Sodom and Gomorrah. Most importantly almost every reference to prayer from Jesus is in the "Jefferson bible", even God giving the Holy Spirit to all who ask. We also find fulfilled prophesy; Jesus prophesies Peter will deny him 3 times before the cock crows and later we read of this happening. So yeah, there is a lot more, I could make this into an extremely long review and just post example after example directly from the eBook, of all that shouldn't have survived Jefferson's scissors and bible blotter! so yeah for a so called Deist, it sure seems odd he didn't clip out all mentions of prayer, God's activity on the earth, as well as prophesy, the second coming, angels and demons and the Holy Spirit and Jesus being the actual Son of God, the Christ and the King whose Kingdom is not of this earth. It would be nice to find some explanation for all Jefferson left in there, if he really was creating for himself his own bible without the supernatural. Is not the resurrection, the Holy Spirit, prophesy and salvation supernatural? Oh Hitchen's and Dawkin's, how did all this nonsense make it into this book from your secular saint? O.K with all of that aside, i must say i really enjoyed "The Life and morals of Jesus." As far as Jesus' life, its extremely brief, the book is primarily the read letters of the bible, Jesus' teachings all put together seamlessly. I am glad Jefferson did this, it was a pleasure to read Jesus' teachings without the constant interruptions of miracles.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Todd

    This is the way the Bible is supposed to be. Thomas Jefferson, founding father and President of the USA has cut away all the supernatural BS behind Jesus Christ and his life time. Dug hard into various Bibles of the times and manages to find the wisdom of a progressive Jewish rebel. This Jesus was killed for believing in treating people equally and finding the best of human nature. The supernatural birth and other mystical events of Jesus' life have been removed and instead readers will discover This is the way the Bible is supposed to be. Thomas Jefferson, founding father and President of the USA has cut away all the supernatural BS behind Jesus Christ and his life time. Dug hard into various Bibles of the times and manages to find the wisdom of a progressive Jewish rebel. This Jesus was killed for believing in treating people equally and finding the best of human nature. The supernatural birth and other mystical events of Jesus' life have been removed and instead readers will discover a new vision in the man called Jesus, with all the mystical mumbo-jumbo that the church has added to him to make him seem like a divine being. Instead we see a person who even during his childhood questioned his family and leaders with critical reasoning skills that were probably self-taught. Jesus learned that they were manipulating the public for their own personal gain over the betterment of all. He hung out with criminals, whores and the lowest end of the public, treated them with compassion and became an accidental leader to them. His martyrdom was then justified by the church to make him divine much like the ancient demi-gods like Hercules, Peresus, and other Greek/Roman heroes that inspired the people. His "divinity" has been cut by Jefferson's own hand and instead we see through the church's deception and lies to keep the public in control and instead see that Jesus was a rebel with a cause to help to better not only his fellow Jews but all people everywhere. The pseudo-mystical nature of his birth to the documentation of his supposed resurrection have been cut away and we still see a good leader who inspired people to help people. Unlike the many Christians today who turn their backs on their own fellow human being in the name of Christ and don't bother to lend a helping hand as Jesus did. Jefferson took the true teachings of Jesus the man and rebel leader to heart. Those teaching helped America throw off the shackles of English rule and domination to allow America the right to be free.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lee Harmon

    "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." With this goal, Jefferson set about with razor in hand to extract the true words and actions of Jesus from the enveloping hype and miracle stories of the Gospels. Rejecting the virgin birth, the annunciation, and even the resurrection, Jefferson wanted to dig down to Jesus’ message of "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." With this goal, Jefferson set about with razor in hand to extract the true words and actions of Jesus from the enveloping hype and miracle stories of the Gospels. Rejecting the virgin birth, the annunciation, and even the resurrection, Jefferson wanted to dig down to Jesus’ message of absolute love and service. The result is a chronological new Gospel formed by merging select portions of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. An excellent, concise introduction by Forrest Church and an afterward by Jaroslav Pelikan ([see Whose Bible Is It] http://www.dubiousdisciple.com/2011/0...) round out the book. Jefferson espoused a Unitarian philosophy, subjugating the topic of religion in his library to the category of “moral philosophy.” Pelikan, in his afterward about Jefferson’s contemporaries, classifies Jefferson among the “Enlightenment rationalists.” After reading Jefferson’s Bible, I’d say that’s a fair assessment.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dean

    Brilliant editing...when considered with his design for the University of Virginia grounds sheds light on TJ's careful consideration, no, critical inquiry into the spectrum of 18th c norms. Everything is in play with reason the blade that carves the irrelevant and nonsense from core truths. UVA is an architectural analog. Though it can be debated that it is less successful as a unified work because it is new, untested function from an old form (a core campus from a Roman temple and forum), it is Brilliant editing...when considered with his design for the University of Virginia grounds sheds light on TJ's careful consideration, no, critical inquiry into the spectrum of 18th c norms. Everything is in play with reason the blade that carves the irrelevant and nonsense from core truths. UVA is an architectural analog. Though it can be debated that it is less successful as a unified work because it is new, untested function from an old form (a core campus from a Roman temple and forum), it is a gathering of edited architectural pieces (pavilions) around a new social space ruled by a Temple of reason open to the physical and intellectual frontier (west). I find both the JB and UVA profoundly inspiring as an imagining and creation of a more perfect present from a critically examined past. We need more of this now!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This is Thomas Jefferson's own interpretation of the most important parts of the Bible (the birth, teachings, and death of Jesus). I picked it up mostly because I like Thomas Jefferson, and wanted to understand a bit more about his morality and motivations, but... eh. I'm not Christian, and have a huge amount of skepticism when it comes to the idea of using a 2ooo year old book as a practical guide for morality and ethics, so... yeah. Not the book for me. This is Thomas Jefferson's own interpretation of the most important parts of the Bible (the birth, teachings, and death of Jesus). I picked it up mostly because I like Thomas Jefferson, and wanted to understand a bit more about his morality and motivations, but... eh. I'm not Christian, and have a huge amount of skepticism when it comes to the idea of using a 2ooo year old book as a practical guide for morality and ethics, so... yeah. Not the book for me.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    This is a 4-star review because of the conceptualization and execution of the finished product, in addition to the erudite forewords which describe the history of the document's creation and the artifact's restoration. The Jefferson Bible is a work to be studied. Not so much from a religious perspective, but from a scholarly one. This is a look into the mind of perhaps the greatest of the U.S. Founders and his privately-held views on religion. In his political life, he was a staunch advocate for This is a 4-star review because of the conceptualization and execution of the finished product, in addition to the erudite forewords which describe the history of the document's creation and the artifact's restoration. The Jefferson Bible is a work to be studied. Not so much from a religious perspective, but from a scholarly one. This is a look into the mind of perhaps the greatest of the U.S. Founders and his privately-held views on religion. In his political life, he was a staunch advocate for and driver of the (critically important) concept of church-state separation. Further, he was a man who put reason at the forefront and argued (correctly, in my opinion) that great moral strength derives from reason, rather than emotion or obedience or some other source. The "bible" part of the book is just fascinating. Each folio is four columns that run the Greek and Latin translations on the left, and the French and the English on the right, telling the same elements of the life and teachings of Jesus. Naturally, I only focused my attention on the English column. Having been raised Lutheran, I was familiar with the four gospels and the various parts of Jesus' life and teachings each contained. However, I wanted to see how Jefferson (meticulously) cut and pasted just the elements that would be considered biographical or instructional. Virtually all references to miracles and the supernatural (transmuting water into wine, resurrecting Lazarus, etc) are absent. There is no mention of a virgin conception at the beginning, and the work ends with the stone rolling to close in Jesus' tomb. There is a bit of prophesying (Peter denying Jesus 3 times before the cock crow, for example), but that's about it. The only thing that seems a bit strange is that a man who believes in reason above all things still managed to at least appear to believe a heaven/hell afterlife (or an afterlife at all). It could also have been that Jefferson was not going to be able to cut those references out, as many of the parables deal with how such-and-such a person will not receive eternal life and such-and-such a person might. So, based on that I suppose it's possible (though I'm sure his biographers would tell me with greater certainty) that Jefferson wasn't so much into that idea literally as much as the general idea that "such-and-such a person" is doing good things or doing bad things. History buffs, Jefferson fans, and other objective-minded folk would probably enjoy this on some level. Gnostic theists and zealots should avoid.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Illiterate

    Given that Jesus was just a man, the study of his life requires historical research; we can’t simply accept the truth of the gospels.

  15. 4 out of 5

    David Crumm

    Finally, Smithsonian Offers Jefferson Bible for General Readers If you’re choosing an edition of the so-called Jefferson Bible, my strong recommendation is: Snap up a copy of this gorgeous Smithsonian facsimile of Jefferson’s original work, which he created by hand with his razor and pot of glue. Nationwide studies show that most American households own a Bible, most Americans claim they read the Bible regularly, and regular Bible readers own multiple editions. Many Americans preach, teach and sh Finally, Smithsonian Offers Jefferson Bible for General Readers If you’re choosing an edition of the so-called Jefferson Bible, my strong recommendation is: Snap up a copy of this gorgeous Smithsonian facsimile of Jefferson’s original work, which he created by hand with his razor and pot of glue. Nationwide studies show that most American households own a Bible, most Americans claim they read the Bible regularly, and regular Bible readers own multiple editions. Many Americans preach, teach and share in small groups that include Bible study. This is the first time in two centuries that a reasonably priced facsimile of Jefferson’s Bible is available for general readers. This gorgeous Smithsonian edition is likely to go out of print and, perhaps, become a collector’s item. From a practical standpoint, imagine the spirited discussions you can spark in your class or small group by passing around a copy. Buy it now, while this edition is still available. What is in Jefferson’s Bible? First of all, Jefferson never called it “The Jefferson Bible,” although that is now such a widely used title that even the Smithsonian edition uses that phrase as the main title for the new color facsimile. Jefferson’s own original title appears as the sub-title of the Smithsonian edition. However, his original intention is captured in that first title: Jefferson only included the life and teachings of Jesus using verses from the Gospels. How did Jefferson produce his Bible? Equipped with a razor and glue, the Smithsonian says: “At seventy-seven years of age, Thomas Jefferson constructed his book by cutting excerpts from six printed volumes published in English, French, Latin, and Greek of the Gospels of the New Testament. He arranged them to tell a chronological and edited story of Jesus’s life, parables, and moral teaching. Left behind in the source material were those elements that he could not support through reason or that he believed were later embellishments, such as the miracles and the Resurrection. “The act of cutting and rearranging passages from the New Testament to create something fresh was an ambitious, even audacious initiative, but not an act of disrespect. Through this distillation Jefferson sought to clarify Jesus’s teachings, which he believed provided ‘the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man.’” A second recommendation, if you’re a Bible collector or Bible-study teacher: You also should snap up Tarcher’s new release of the now-classic 1940 edition of The Jefferson Bible.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kitap

    You have to admire the audacity of the man who wrote "The Declaration of Independence." Who else would take a knife and pot of glue to the very Gospels, and, with an intuitive hermeneutic rooted in his own Enlightenment-era deistic presumptions, attempt to strip away what he considered the "dung" and reveal the "diamonds" of Christ's teachings? Jefferson's attempts to find the universal, essential teachings of Jesus foreshadowed the higher critical approaches of the 19th century, and the 20th ce You have to admire the audacity of the man who wrote "The Declaration of Independence." Who else would take a knife and pot of glue to the very Gospels, and, with an intuitive hermeneutic rooted in his own Enlightenment-era deistic presumptions, attempt to strip away what he considered the "dung" and reveal the "diamonds" of Christ's teachings? Jefferson's attempts to find the universal, essential teachings of Jesus foreshadowed the higher critical approaches of the 19th century, and the 20th century's searches for the hypothetical Q sayings gospel and the "authentic" words of the "historical Jesus". Those facts, plus the insightful preface (by the late UU minister Forrest Church) and afterword (by the late scholar Jaroslav Pelikan), would, by themselves make this a four- or -five star book. Unfortunately, since the only English translation of the Gospels that Jefferson had on hand was the King James Version, the resulting "Jefferson Bible" retains the usually impenetrable and too often stultifying language of that translation. He also didn't have access to gospel parallels, and evidently didn't think to look at the Gospels synoptically, because his redaction includes many duplicate stories and parables that make reading it more tedious than necessary. Finally, in reading through what remains of the Gospels, I began to see, for the first time, what many of my atheist friends have argued for some time: that there are fewer clear and flawless "diamonds" in Christ's teachings than Sunday school would leave one to believe. The import of many parables, even with interpretations provided, is lost on a modern reader (heck, it might have been lost on a 1st century reader), and the various discourses and teachings don't sum up to a comprehensive ethical or cosmological vision. This book left me wondering whether Jesus' ethics really were that profound (or even coherent!) after all, or if we just continue to assume so as inheritors of a tradition that insists on this as a fact, even after the obviously mythical elements get stripped away.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    Very interesting sidebar of American History. Jefferson, who was a questioner and often skeptic, believed the teachings of Jesus profound. As a founding father, he was not so obsessed with his own salvation later, but in acting rightly in practice in the present. The forward and introduction, do a lot to enlighten the reader on Jefferson's own viewpoints on religion and freedoms surrounding practice and purpose. As far as the Bible that Jefferson presents goes: it is abridged version of the New Very interesting sidebar of American History. Jefferson, who was a questioner and often skeptic, believed the teachings of Jesus profound. As a founding father, he was not so obsessed with his own salvation later, but in acting rightly in practice in the present. The forward and introduction, do a lot to enlighten the reader on Jefferson's own viewpoints on religion and freedoms surrounding practice and purpose. As far as the Bible that Jefferson presents goes: it is abridged version of the New Testament. This may offend some- but I found it to be a quick reminder of the breadth of story and teaching. The repetition between the apostle tellers is more evident in this abridgment. If one has read the more complete texts, you will see what Jefferson found important, by seeing what was kept and what was scrapped. In different books I have read that told the story of this Bible, it has been suggested that Jefferson was attempting to make an American Bible that everyone was to use. Those who fathom these falsehoods of our most zealous defender of liberty and freedom from tyranny, should check themselves, the Declaration of Independence he presented and Bill of Rights he defended as Commander-in Chief. To me this was an exercise of a genius, as he toyed with his own personal notions of religion and God. I am happy that this edition is available- it s truly eye-opening to see Jefferson's editorial bone put to use.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    This is an illuminating and important book historically. Not only does it represent Thomas Jefferson's fearless edit of the Gospels of Matthew,Mark, Luke and John from the New Testament the Bible extracting what he thought was of value from "a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstitions, fanaticisms and fabrications"but sheds a light on the inquiring minds of the intellectual elite of his day. He basically cut and pasted and shared his work with John Adams and others w This is an illuminating and important book historically. Not only does it represent Thomas Jefferson's fearless edit of the Gospels of Matthew,Mark, Luke and John from the New Testament the Bible extracting what he thought was of value from "a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstitions, fanaticisms and fabrications"but sheds a light on the inquiring minds of the intellectual elite of his day. He basically cut and pasted and shared his work with John Adams and others who shared his views. A copy of this slim volume was given to every member of the US Senate upon their being sworn in since 1904 as a tradition. As a Deist, Thomas Jefferson rejected the story of the virgin birth and the dogma of the Trinity. Anticlerical and a strong advocate of separation of church and state, he embodies the spirit of freedom of thought and the individual which is the foundation of America...and in stark contrast to the fantasy of the founding fathers creation of a "Christian nation" drawing its institutions and laws from the Bible as evangelicals claim.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Prooost Davis

    Jefferson's attempt to present Jesus's story, as collected from the four Gospels, in chronological order, omitting all of its supernatural aspects, gives the story a shape that one doesn't necessarily perceive in selecting verses for study out of context. The reader can see an inevitable trajectory towards crucifixion as Jesus gains a following while challenging the authority of some important people. Jefferson did not believe in the virgin birth, the miracles, the resurrection, etc., but he wish Jefferson's attempt to present Jesus's story, as collected from the four Gospels, in chronological order, omitting all of its supernatural aspects, gives the story a shape that one doesn't necessarily perceive in selecting verses for study out of context. The reader can see an inevitable trajectory towards crucifixion as Jesus gains a following while challenging the authority of some important people. Jefferson did not believe in the virgin birth, the miracles, the resurrection, etc., but he wished show that Jesus had presented a sound system of ethics. But, reading many of Jesus's words for the first time, in spite of spending the first 17-or-so years of my life as a practicing Christian, I detected some troubling notes that were not emphasized in my own liberal congregation. The fire and brimstone Jesus is every bit as present here as the gentle, loving one. And once or twice, his words contained a touch of paranoia and mistrust of outsiders that characterizes the messianic cults we see today.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Erik Larson

    I liked this book. I went into the book with an open mind. I am an Atheist who has read the bible and wondered what Thomas Jefferson had to say about it. If you have heard of the famous Jefferson - Adams letters where they lightly debate religion then you may know that Thomas wasn't really a fan of the church. That does not mean he is not religious. On the contrary, this book is a basic asemblance of how Thomas Jefferson interpreted the bible. It gives good incite into his views on religion and I liked this book. I went into the book with an open mind. I am an Atheist who has read the bible and wondered what Thomas Jefferson had to say about it. If you have heard of the famous Jefferson - Adams letters where they lightly debate religion then you may know that Thomas wasn't really a fan of the church. That does not mean he is not religious. On the contrary, this book is a basic asemblance of how Thomas Jefferson interpreted the bible. It gives good incite into his views on religion and pretty much describes his personality and how he would govern his young country. It is obvious from the very begining that Thomas did not like organized religion but felt there was some truth in the scripture. The book was very repetative as I believe he had revisions of earlier interpretations and would try to revisit some of his earlier writtings of certain scriptures. Not to say there were contradiction in the scriptures themselves, but I think he was contradicting his previous interpretation. Very good book if you are into the founding fathers and their religious views.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Darla Stokes

    The premise of this book is entertaining--Jefferson took all the stuff about Jesus from the New Testament and left out all the magic. I'm not really sure what the point is supposed to be. It can't really be a moral guide--there's nothing of morality in the biographical details, and the parables are all over the place. Bizarre things like if you're throwing a party and nobody in town will come, you're completely justified in destroying the whole town. Or if two people are having a guest over for The premise of this book is entertaining--Jefferson took all the stuff about Jesus from the New Testament and left out all the magic. I'm not really sure what the point is supposed to be. It can't really be a moral guide--there's nothing of morality in the biographical details, and the parables are all over the place. Bizarre things like if you're throwing a party and nobody in town will come, you're completely justified in destroying the whole town. Or if two people are having a guest over for dinner, the one who does all the work in cleaning the house and preparing the food is the bad one--the one who just waits around and then schmoozes is the good one. Or that it's better to lie and say you'll do something you have no intention of doing than it is to say you can't do it, and then later go ahead and do the thing. It does explain a lot about Christian "morality," I suppose. And the preface & introduction are instructive of Thomas Jefferson's views.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    Thomas Jefferson is among the greatest minds from the Founding Generation of Americans. Despite his contributions to the American framework, Jefferson believed that religious beliefs were and should remain an immensely personal topic, and as such he spends very little time discussing this issue even among his most trusted contemporaries, including Benjamin Rush, who may have inspired Jefferson to complete this work following Rush's death. The Jeffersonian Bible is an intimate look into the mind o Thomas Jefferson is among the greatest minds from the Founding Generation of Americans. Despite his contributions to the American framework, Jefferson believed that religious beliefs were and should remain an immensely personal topic, and as such he spends very little time discussing this issue even among his most trusted contemporaries, including Benjamin Rush, who may have inspired Jefferson to complete this work following Rush's death. The Jeffersonian Bible is an intimate look into the mind of Thomas Jefferson on perhaps his most intimately guarded beliefs; spirituality. Jefferson attempts to recreate the life of Jesus from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, while focusing on Jesus as a man and teacher. In doing so Jefferson, I believe succeeds in creating a vivid and clear image of the key teachings of Jesus and how to live a more harmonious and fulfilling life.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Wesley Weissenberger

    As Thomas Jefferson is arguably the most important figure in American History. I had to pick this one up. While nothing but a re-telling of the New Testement, and even though it is written with a strange mixture of Old Enlish and Contemperary American. It allows for a fresh look at the New Testement with out all of the religious stuff thrown in.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kavin Kramer

    Two reasons why I rated this with only 1 star. 1) Jesus's claims of deity have been taken out. 2) The story ends with Jesus in a tomb rather than any mention of the central point of Christianity (which Thomas Jefferson claims in the opening statements), the resurrection. Thomas Jefferson is doing what many have done unsuccessfully for centuries before and after. He picks and chooses the most convenient passages, so as to influence his own life but not make any transformative commitments. Without Two reasons why I rated this with only 1 star. 1) Jesus's claims of deity have been taken out. 2) The story ends with Jesus in a tomb rather than any mention of the central point of Christianity (which Thomas Jefferson claims in the opening statements), the resurrection. Thomas Jefferson is doing what many have done unsuccessfully for centuries before and after. He picks and chooses the most convenient passages, so as to influence his own life but not make any transformative commitments. Without answering my two objections, the "morals" in the title are bankrupt drivel.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Si

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. It turns out if you remove all the magic from the bible you’re left with a picture of Jesus as a standard religious cult leader demanding absolute obedience, free room and board and his followers to abandon their former lives including families to follow him. The fact Jefferson chose the contents of the book to show Jesus in a good light and he still comes off as above does is just odd. Also includes confusing parables vastly open to interpretation and by its nature no self reflection. Overall the It turns out if you remove all the magic from the bible you’re left with a picture of Jesus as a standard religious cult leader demanding absolute obedience, free room and board and his followers to abandon their former lives including families to follow him. The fact Jefferson chose the contents of the book to show Jesus in a good light and he still comes off as above does is just odd. Also includes confusing parables vastly open to interpretation and by its nature no self reflection. Overall there’s better books on philosophy and better philosophy book written in the ancient world so I’m at a bit of a loss how this could lead to the biggest religion on the planet. I can only assume the magic is really impressive, like a Michael Bay film or something.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Phyllis

    This version for Percival Everett's introduction. This version for Percival Everett's introduction.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    I enjoyed it. If you've never read the Bible or read it sporadically then you might enjoy this telling of Jesus's life. It goes in chronological order and has all the parables without the miracles. I enjoyed it. If you've never read the Bible or read it sporadically then you might enjoy this telling of Jesus's life. It goes in chronological order and has all the parables without the miracles.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Shawn

    Americans will well know this author as a founding father and former U.S. President; but fewer are aware that Thomas Jefferson completed his own version of The Bible in 1820 by cutting and pasting selected sections from the New Testament. Fewer still will know that Jefferson’s Bible purposefully excluded supernatural elements from the scriptures, including the miracles performed by Jesus. And many will be surprised to know that, beginning in 1904 and continuing until the 1950s, all new members o Americans will well know this author as a founding father and former U.S. President; but fewer are aware that Thomas Jefferson completed his own version of The Bible in 1820 by cutting and pasting selected sections from the New Testament. Fewer still will know that Jefferson’s Bible purposefully excluded supernatural elements from the scriptures, including the miracles performed by Jesus. And many will be surprised to know that, beginning in 1904 and continuing until the 1950s, all new members of Congress were given a copy of The Jefferson Bible. The copies were provided by the Government Printing Office. A private organization, the Libertarian Press, revived this practice of distributing The Jefferson Bible to congressmen in 1997. The Jefferson Bible is in the public domain and can be read for free. A .pdf may be found HERE or in html at HERE . Jefferson’s reason for re-organizing portions of the New Testament was because he believed that much of it had become corrupted by translators who, over time, infused it with idolatry and superstition. Jefferson contended that these past manipulators had so confused scripture that: “even Jesus would no longer recognize it”. Jefferson prepared this book because he was opposed to these “corruptions of reason” by popular Christianity. But Jefferson was not opposed to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself, which Jefferson believed he was preserving in his bible. Jefferson’s manipulation of the scripture is indicative of Jesus’ message to discern and experience righteousness from “within the self” instead of becoming corrupted by static, immutable law that cannot adjust to the infinite situations posed by the dynamic circumstances of life. It is my prayer that the commentaries below will serve to continue Jesus’ and Jefferson’s admonitions into modernity, such that the scripture continues its remarkable journey through history, as persistently relevant. Below is a list of the titled sections under which Jefferson organized the passages, as the reader will find them in The Jefferson Bible . I think The Jefferson Bible makes an excellent study project. My commentary will prove most relevant if the reader first visits the scripture under each of Jefferson’s headings within The Jefferson Bible. Even though my commentary is omitted for some of the introductory or shorter headings, I’m listing them anyway to assist in keeping the reader oriented. I. Joseph and Mary go to Bethlehem, Where Jesus is Born II. He is Circumcised and Named and they Return to Nazareth III. At Twelve Years of Age He Accompanies his Parents to Jerusalem and Returns IV. John Baptizes in Jordan V. Jesus is Baptized at 30 Years of Age VI. Drives the Traders Out of the Temple: In this section, Jesus displays power by driving many out of the temple, announcing that it should not be a “house of merchandise”. We see here Jesus’ opposition to material things as a profane sacrifice. The revelation of Jesus is that the only worthy sacrifice is to give of one’s self. This section is also an indictment of capitalistic markets and of Mammon. Jesus protests because the spirit of giving is being corrupted by a medium of exchange. One understands Jesus’ viewpoint: that by turning the temple into an open financial market, the temple-goers were really sacrificing themselves to Mammon instead of God. Jesus protested because Mammon was profaning the temple. Jesus would ultimately show that even the sticks and bricks of the temple were profane physical material and that the true temple was to be erected spiritually within man. VII. He Baptizes, but Retires into Galilee on the Death of John: In this section, we see that the consequence of standing up for righteousness is death. When the martyr looms as a persisting example for those left living, it accomplishes much in the physical world. If we truly believe in a subsequent, enduring spiritual state, why should we fear death? VIII. He Teaches in the Synagogue: Here we see Jesus standing up to preach righteousness even in the face of John’s beheading, at his own peril. Thus Jesus demonstrates an absence of fear. Jesus’ physical life is of less concern to Jesus than is proclaiming righteousness. IX. Explains the Sabbath: Here we see that Jesus stands against petrified laws that are so rigid they begin to violate common sense. X. Call of His Disciples XI. The Sermon on the Mount: In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus gives a litany of wonderful instructions. The directions given here Jesus likens to the building of a strong house upon a rock foundation, as we should build a strong spiritual temple within ourselves. For it is this inner temple that must survive the storms into the spiritual life. It is the building of our spirits with which we must be first concerned; and we must do this building against the distractions afforded by the physical world set around us. We must build ourselves into a spiritual ark that will carry us beyond physical obstacles into a new dimension that Jesus calls “the Kingdom”. XII. Exhorts XIII. A Woman Annointeth Him: With a parable illustrating that love emanates out of forgiveness, Jesus reveals The Ragamuffins as is so well explained in Brennan Manning’s wonderful book. Jesus illustrates here that He came for sinners, even the lowest and most abhorred of them. XIV. Precepts: Here we see that Jesus does not publicly elevate Mary and instead emphasizes universal kinship and relation with those in touch with God. Additionally, Jesus emphasizes how dire are the circumstances of being outside of a righteous relationship, which is to be, essentially, outside of life. XV. Parable of the Rich Man: Jesus emphasizes the fruitlessness of storing up earthly treasurers. The spiritual life is not perpetrated by a large inventory of physical things. XVI. Precepts: Jesus discounts physical life and emphasizes spiritual awareness and spiritual life instead. Jesus warns that those who do not enter into spiritual life will perish. XVII. Parable of the Fig Tree: Jesus emphasizes the importance of using feces fertilizer for the purpose of encouraging a bearing of fruit. The worst byproducts of humanity: war, poverty, ignorance, exploitation, imprisonment, etc., can spur and redirect our spirits toward the righteous, fruitful growth of goodness. Ask of thyself constantly: what goodness am I producing? Jesus emphasizes that the unfruitful will be destroyed. If the excrement of sin in our life is not fertilizing us forward through repentance, what use is it? What use is a waste product that cannot fertilize a growing fruit? Should it not be discarded? XVIII. Precepts: Here fruit is identified as expanding love and Jesus chastises the Pharisaic legalism that stems from an unauthentic outer show instead of a genuine inner love. XIX. Parable of the Sower: This parable likens the probability for one to ascend into spiritual life with the likelihood that seeds cast about will sprout. Jesus reveals that many seeds will perish, as they are eaten by fowls, scorched, left in stoney places, or choked by thorns. Fewer will land in fertile ground and sprout fruit. Again, the reference is that many will eventually simply perish. In this parable, Jesus identifies three major pitfalls that threaten the spiritual seed: (1) evil people, (2) apathy, and (3) worldly allurements. XX. Precepts: Jesus encourages people to shine through their lives and not to cower hidden because of fear of what others may think or say. Again, the implication remains that the physical life is of little worth in comparison to the spiritual life and in fact exists as fertilizer for spiritual growth. XXI. Parable of the Tares: Here we have a very interesting allusion to the human race as the result of purposeful agriculture. This is a picture of human kind as a cultivated species: planted, nurtured, and eventually harvested. The harvest is for the purpose of perpetuating the growth of spiritual goodness, the conglomeration of which is referred to as “The Kingdom”. Again, destruction is predicted for those despising or ignoring the spiritual life during their physical existence, which is clearly identified as the opportunity to experience and become a proponent of goodness. Jesus clearly states that ascending into the Kingdom of goodness is worth more than anything that can be accumulated in the short, terminable physical life. Jesus refers to His life as a sowing of seed. Clearly, the modern proliferation of Jesus is clearly a testament to His abundant fruitfulness. XXII. Precepts: The seeds are sown in the dirt among the fertilizer of waste. For it is from the dirt that the small seed grows into the mighty tree. Those who have superficially cleaned themselves of all dirt, have sterilized themselves from the fertilization that stems from interaction with the dirt of humanity. To become segregated conformists among the generic adherents of the law, is to disconnect from the soil in which you are intended to sprout. The seed sprouts most fervently among the sinners who feed it with their growing attention and love, such that their dirt fertilizes the seed’s growth, which, in turn, gives forth more seeds. XXIII. Parable of New Wine in Old Bottles: Jesus provides an illumination between the adjustment necessary to transcend from the old law to the new good news. Newness comes in contradiction or modification of the old way. People will normally try to cling to the old way and view the new way skeptically. The convergence of old and new thus produces conflict, which must be managed. XXIV. A Prophet Hath no Honor in his Own Country: Jealously inflicts those who know one another intimately because we greedily want to possess and hoard what we love. To bequeath yourself widely is to unshackle yourself from the confines of a possessor, who thus senses a loss. When we come to think less of our self possessions and more of the celebration of righteousness, we shall then delight to observe those we love sowing seeds of love upon others. XXV. Mission Instructions, Return of Apostles: The disciples are sent forth passively, transparently, without burden, and with instructions to not fear the loss of their mere physical body. Again, Jesus speaks of “destruction” for those that reject goodness. XXVI. Precepts: Jesus attests that it is not the things that enter or comprise a man that may defile him but the things which come out of him. A man becomes defiled by those corrupt things that he creates within his being and issues forth into the world. Here we have the notion of the body as a temporary organization of life forms. Man ingests various substances, synthesizing them into good or evil, the latter of which must ultimately be destroyed, the former which may endure. Jesus speaks here of “everlasting fire” within which we sense the goodness of the Kingdom will endure, but evil will not be able to survive. God wishes that all may love goodness and thereby come willingly into the Kingdom and be protected from the destruction that materialism will ultimately encounter in the transition from the physical realm to the spiritual realm, a transition that awaits us all. Our ultimate sustenance must be love. XXVII. Parable of the Wicked Servant: In this parable hell is characterized as having a termination defined by the point at which one should acquiesce to forgive others in token of the forgiveness they have received. The kingdom is characterized as a place of forgiveness. XXVIII. Mission of the Seventy: Here we see that believers are deployed passively, like laborers in the field, or as “lambs among wolves”. Such labor is characterized by transparent living and fearless proclamation of righteousness, by which I do not mean dogma and superstition, but simply standing up for what we know to be right, i.e. against exploitation of others, against usury, against slavery, against war, for a flourishing environment for children, against misery and domination, for education, for health care, for compassion, for peace, for equitable distribution of resources, against pathological hoarding of resources, against weapons of destruction, etc. The fact that this mission has become misguided into a superstitious proselytizing of rigid doctrines is tragic. XXIX. The Feast of the Tabernacles: Here Jesus emphasizes that His testimony comes from God within Him as opposed to codified education handed down. Jesus emphasizes that all should discern through righteousness, seeing beyond merely physical appearances and deceptions. Jesus states that standing up for this righteousness will position one counter to the world: “the world hateth me because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.” XXX. The Woman Taken in Adultery: Here Jesus displays the radical concept of forgiveness and grace, which come face-to-face with the law. Jesus does not refute the law or deny its relevance but instead reveals that all have broken the law. Essentially Jesus poses the question: should all of humanity be stoned? The adulterous woman is encouraged to refrain from sin, so the law is not relegated to irrelevancy, but forgiveness is shown to trump the law, which is relegated to a goal. Jesus is calling mankind to forgive instead of punishing. XXXI. To be Born Blind No Proof of Sin: This suggests that the situations of souls on the earth are so engineered as to be conducive to the growth of the spirit. Catastrophe is revealed as fertilizer for spiritual growth and not as retribution from God. This is a profound reversal of primitive thinking about the intrusion of disasters (and evils) into the world. It posits catastrophe as a catalyst for growth, instead of punishment from God. The challenges (fertilization) of evil had to be set before Adam and Eve in order for them to grow beyond the status of being merely pets. From dung and dirt, the growth arises, XXXII. The Good Shepherd: The vulnerability of the human Christian is emphasized by the analogy to sheep. Jesus identifies Himself as shepherd and the source of life for Christians. There is an implied segregation here between the sheep, who hear and recognize the shepherd, and those who apparently do not. Additionally, the shepherd knows and calls the sheep by name, indicative of personal familiarity. The implication looms that the unhearing are merely instinctual components of the world, destined to pass away, after serving the purpose of facilitating the edification of the sheep. XXXIII. Love God and Thy Neighbour; Parable of the Samaritan: Eternal life is illustrated here as a function of loving God and loving ones neighbor. The subsequent parable identifies or defines the term “neighbor” as: “he that shows compassion”. By extension, eternal life will be inhabited by “neighbors” or those willing and capable of showing compassion to others. “Be thou a neighbor”. Loving thy neighbor therefore involves “being a neighbor”. XXXIV. Form of Prayer: The admonitions given by Jesus via The Lord’s Prayer are: (1) Recognize God as father and above you. (2) Pray and be in favor for the Kingdom to arrive, that is, for the earth to become as heaven. (3) Recognize our sustenance comes from God. (4) Recognize that the receipt of forgiveness is intwined with forgiving others. (5) Recognize that freedom from sin comes only through reliance upon God. Conformance to the criteria of this prayer brings forth the Kingdom, which should truly be the focus of our desire. XXXV. The Sabbath: Jesus dismisses rules and regulations imposed upon the sabbath, which is intended instead as a day of repose, contemplation, and rest. Again, the implication here is for recognizing righteousness by discernment instead of by codified law. What makes sense within us is more important than blind obedience to rules imposed by others. XXXVI. The Bidden to a Feast: Jesus identifies those that entertain and deploy lavish gifts for the sake of worldly recompense as misguided. Those that seek worldly advantage are worshipping the physical, not the spiritual. The art of entertaining and helping those unable to recompense is a far greater spiritual act, that will result in infinitely more valuable spiritual recompense. XXXVII. Precepts: Can you finish this journey? Have you compiled the spiritual fortitude to persist beyond this physical dimension? Have you achieved a state of mind sufficiently congruent with the occupants of the spiritual dimension so that you may reside with them without disruption? Why do you so earnestly lust after the physical enticements which are merely temporary and ignore the spiritual necessities that are prerequisites for you to endure? XXXVIII. Parables of the Lost Sheep and Prodigal Son: The parable of the prodigal son speaks clearly about the extent of forgiveness that will prevail in the spiritual realm. The truly righteous will joyously forgive and welcome even the last to repent, without forethought of their more lengthy works. The unforgiving are depicted as self-inflated, less concerned with the triumph of righteousness, and more concerned with their perceived self superiority, as earned merit. But the truly righteous would willingly sacrifice their accumulated merit to bring others into the fold. This powerful axiom of forgiveness is symbolically demonstrated in the life and death of Christ, which has served as the catalyst for the promulgation of enhanced spirituality throughout the world. Some see it and are drastically changed into beautiful loving creatures; while others are blind to it because they are spiritually destitute, or are otherwise caught up within a cult of self-righteous arrogance, turning up their noses, like the same Pharisaic characters that were denied by Jesus. XXXIX. Parable of the Unjust Steward: The unjust Steward seeks to save himself by underhanded deal-making through which he displays his faith in Mammon. Most people today worship Mammon, which is an ancient reference to wealth (or wealth personified as demonic). People spend their days striving and laboring after Mammon, while praising and looking up to people who have vast accumulations of Mammon. When people see vast quantities of accumulated Mammon, their eyes often glaze over in lustful desire and they seem to wither in obedience to it. The promise of Mammon will make people do almost anything, including becoming workaholics or even committing horrid evils, like contract murder or prostitution. The vast majority of people display faith and worship for Mammon, far and above that which they may reserve for the integrity of righteousness. Such people have thwarted their spiritual salvation because they have limited themselves to physical substances for the definition of what they embrace most highly. CONTINUED IN COMMENT SECTION BELOW

  29. 4 out of 5

    David Robbins jr

    Thomas Jefferson was the father of the phrase: "Wall of separation between church and state." And I can think of no greater enduring philosophy left by the Founding Fathers than imagining Jefferson cutting apart the New Testament of his King James Bible with razor and glue to form his own Gospels in an effort to, in his own words, separate the "diamonds" from the "dunghill" and "nonsense". The former were the words and wisdom of the teachings of Jesus and the latter were all things supernatural, Thomas Jefferson was the father of the phrase: "Wall of separation between church and state." And I can think of no greater enduring philosophy left by the Founding Fathers than imagining Jefferson cutting apart the New Testament of his King James Bible with razor and glue to form his own Gospels in an effort to, in his own words, separate the "diamonds" from the "dunghill" and "nonsense". The former were the words and wisdom of the teachings of Jesus and the latter were all things supernatural, the divinity of Jesus (which Jefferson says Jesus never intended) or outside of reason. It was the age of Enlightenment, fueled by the Deism of Thomas Paine's marvelous "The Age of Reason" and the writings of John Toland, Matthew Tindal, John Locke, David Hume, Voltaire and Spinoza. Unlike the lies modern American politicians like to tell about the Founders (clearly they don't really read any of the Founders' works) during the election cycle, the Founders definitively wanted government apart from religion. No officially sanctioned religion, period. One of the best things about this Smithsonian copy in particular is the "history" chapter than proceeds Jefferson's work. It is a succinct breakdown of his beliefs and his desire for social religious tolerance. In fact, Jefferson, much like the current U.S. President Obama, was accused of being Muslim by the riff-raff simply for imagining a harmonious nation where they too could find a place for their beliefs. Jefferson's personal beliefs were that the New Testament writers were "ignorant, unlettered men" who produced "superstitions, fanaticisms, and fabrications." He called the Apostle Paul the “first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus.” He dismissed the concept of the Trinity as "abracadabra" and a tool for priests and clergy to become powerful and rich. One can only imagine what he'd think of its political uses in the Republican party (and sometimes the Democratic Party) of today. In the end, what we're left with is a Jesus who is the ultimate rabbi, but not a shaman. We're left with religion as a personal belief, not a political one. And as Jefferson so aptly points out, "It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I had been looking for the 1929 Gilbert Chenard edition of this book, released as "Jefferson's Literary Bible," for years. I was delighted to find this scholarly and more recent edition of one of Jefferson's personal writings that I find most interesting and insightful: this was his commonplace book, or the copybook where he extracted passages from his reading and made comments throughout his education and younger adult years. Here we find the works of English poets, Cicero, Aeschylus, Hume, Hom I had been looking for the 1929 Gilbert Chenard edition of this book, released as "Jefferson's Literary Bible," for years. I was delighted to find this scholarly and more recent edition of one of Jefferson's personal writings that I find most interesting and insightful: this was his commonplace book, or the copybook where he extracted passages from his reading and made comments throughout his education and younger adult years. Here we find the works of English poets, Cicero, Aeschylus, Hume, Homer, and the dozens of other great thinkers throughout the millenia who influenced Jefferson's personal and political philosophy. His Latin and Greek excerpts are translated in footnotes, and any corrections/additions to the original texts are noted there as well. Appendices include commentary on all the authors commonplaced and a thorough analysis of the handwriting as it pertains to dating the entries; most entries are not dated but can be estimated based on other writings from the same era. I have always felt fortunate that the United States counts Thomas Jefferson among the constellation of founding fathers, and reading this book made me more attuned to the brilliant mind that contributed so richly to the birth of our nation. If you have more than a passing interest in Jefferson or in the fruits of a classical education, this book is well worth your time.

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