The Jefferson Bible or, The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth by Thomas Jefferson. Published by MobileReference (mobi)
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The Jefferson Bible, or The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth as it is formally titled, was Thomas Jefferson's effort to extract the doctrine of Jesus by removing sections of the New Testament containing supernatural aspects as well as perceived misinterpretations he believed had been added by the Four Evangelists.
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Should be required reading for all so-called Christians. Perhaps the best review is to let Jefferson speak for himself: "To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed, but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian in the only sense in which he wished anyone to be: sincerely attached to his doctrines in preference to all others and ascribing to him every human excellence, believing he never claimed any other" (from a letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush, April 21, 1803)....more info
Score 1 - Jefferson I had heard of this work in my college days, and so bought a copy as soon as I found one. Jefferson worked on this editing of the bible while in the White House and shortly before his death. Never intended for public view (Jefferson - unlike many politicians these days considered religion a private - VERY private domain) this work was done to satisfy a private need at the urging of some of his neigbors/friends.
Jefferson's work consisted on removing any miraculous references in the New Testiment as well as any stries which Jefferson did not believe held up to rational thought.
It thus contains the moral precepts and teachings that Jefferson valued so highly....more info
Jesus said... I have long believed that the way Jesus said to live was more important than his immortality (or mine). I knew our "Founders" didn't base our constitution on "Judea-Christian values", as is frequently proposed by some
political/religious leaders, but on principles of the Enlightenment which they believed would bring a new kind of government, free of religious oppression, first to America, and then to the world.
The only books on the subject are very large, very scholarly, very informative, but... how nice to have this little book on my coffee table where curious minds can explore the thinking of one of America's most forward looking leaders, and read just the words of Jesus, without the mythology attached to his death by future theologians.
The preface, the introduction and chapter about Jefferson's contemporaries is a history lesson every
American should review. No-one who has visited my home has found it in any way offensive, but all
find it enlightening !...more info
A brilliant mans take on morality. This book goes deep into the root of what is missing in America today. Morality. Written by possibly one of the greatest minds ever, Jefferson goes into the meaning of the Bible....more info
Highly recommended, regardless of your religious beliefs Many Christian fundamentalists would argue that if Jesus was not what mainstream Christian theology says he is, then either he was a liar or a madman. That assumption is based of course on the idea that everything in the New Testament gospels must be taken as if it literally happened, as if the Gospel writers were able to accurately write what Jesus said and did in the same way a reporter could today. Balderdash. ....
"Jefferson's Bible" is an attempt--a labor of love--by one incredibly brilliant man to create a gospel that made sense, building on the writings of the original gospel writers (who he unfairly detested but had no choice to rely upon). Was he successful? That's for each person to determine for himself or herself. But whether you are a pure Unitarian (as Jefferson was) or a traditional Christian, or none of the above, the value of his work is in the way he reminds us of the truly wonderful morals that Jesus preached, many of which are overlooked in the lavish doctrinal attention paid to the Resurrection....more info
The Truth shall set you free.... God Bless Mr.Jefferson for making this bible;ALL FACTS & NO FICTION. If your like me, a follower of Christ and find "magic" insulting to your intelligence, get this book. Never mind the "magic", tell me about Jesus, the man who brought us the truth....more info
Jefferson was ahead of his time This book is an editing of what Thomas Jefferson thought was the real truth buried in the Gospels. He deleted the miracles, resurrection and any strange theological statements he felt was placed in Jesus's mouth at a later date. He was like the Jesus Seminar of the 1800's. I have nothing but respect for Jefferson on having the guts in his time to think for himself and see the logical fallacies in believing in the super natural aspects of the gospels. In reading this I see a lot of similarities to the Gospel of Thomas found at Nag Hammadi in 1946. Jefferson would have been pleased. He searched the Gospels for the "GEMS" the real Jesus spoke and found them....more info
Not Simply Cut and Paste For those who continually aspire to know Jefferson, it comes as know surprise that his vanity led him to rewrite the bible to suit his own religiosity. Rewrite is a strong phrase really. Jefferson worked over many years (perhaps for only a few hours a week) to put together this final version of the bible. At one level this is simply a cut and paste project. Portions of the bible, those that reflect the morality and courage of Jesus the teacher, have been pieced together and presented as a fairly smooth story. The result is a masterful work which pierces through religious dogma (and, to be honest, anything requiring "great faith") and brings the essence of Christ's work to the forefront. What was so astounding about this work, besides its readability, was its simplicity. While a cut and paste job for sure, this was not a haphazard project (although the end of the text seems hastened). This is a must read for every student of history, and is strongly recommended for those who desire to come to a fuller understanding of two great minds....more info
An interesting book from an historic standpoint. This book is historically important, and used in US military schools as a template of good values.
This book is merely a cut an paste of most of the "interesting values" in some of the gospels accepted and selected by the church.
I do wish that Thomas Jefferson could include the recently discovered gospel of Judas, and also the gospel of Marie.
This book should in my view be seen in the historical context of the late 18th century: the Christian church was much discredited by the abuses of the inquisition, and large use of abuse, torture and killing of opponents which were really political opponents.
A few examples: In England John Tyndale (his only crime was to translate the bible in english, re-edited by his friend Cannondale, it became, with political help from the king, the "King James Bible") was burned at the stacke, in France Calas was executed for just not align themselves with the official (and very lucrative) policies of the catholic church.
In my view, again, a good book in the historical context.
From a theological point of view, unless I missed something, there is nothing really new, just an attempt to create a simple short document, much easier to read than the whole set of the gospels.
Here Thomas Jefferson makes the case, that religion without ethical values is mere superstition.
But if you wish to know much more about Thomas Jefferson on religious issues, suggest that you also read his writings: many letters including to members of the church will clarify his strictly monotheist, unitarian christian point of view.
So byzantine discussions about the theological value of this book, seems to me un-necessary and vaines: christianism like most large religions has many schools of thought, and when disagreement are non violent, then, they are acceptable ones...
But the extreme violence that the Christian church unleashed against any unorthodox theologic view, from the twelve century (first crusade 1095) to the present times, must make dissenters cautious.
Suggested related reading: (beside the Torah and some accepted version of "the new testament" (there are many, the ones translated from the Greek language are usually accepted from being of better quality...).
1) The Writing of Thomas Jefferson.
2) "The book of sins".
3) "Misquoting Jesus".
4) The Gospel of Judas.
5) The Gospel of Mary.
6) The Chouraqui Bible (In French, my Andre Chouraqui, mayor of Jerusalem).
7) "The decline and fall of the Roman empire" by Edwards Gibbons.
Wow This was recommended to me about a year ago. Very interesting and attractive book...more info
The Jefferson Bible The Jefferson Bible parallels the Gospel of Thomas that was uncovered in a cave in the Middle East in the mid 50s of the past century.
Both of these writings describe the fundamental instructions that Jesus promoted without the overlay of the Constantine burden....more info
Preface Needed A preface describing how Jefferson created his simplier version of the Bible would be an interesting and useful addition to this book. However, having "just the facts" of how we are to live is useful.Betterness In Life: Achieve Peak Performance...more info
Very interesting. Short and worthwhile for any reader. Jefferson wrote this version of the New Testament because he believed in the teachings of Christ, but not all the "mythology" that surrounds the main message of love and forgiveness. It lets the reader focus in on the wisdom without having to decide whether or not the Immaculate Conception, the Rising from the Dead, turning water into wine, etc is valid or not. These "miracles" are not the point, according to Jefferson; the message brought by Christ is. Regardless of whether or not you agree this thin volume is worth the small purchase price and the small amount of time to see the teachings of Christ presented "undiluted" without the "rest of the story"....more info
One of the few books worthy of represnting Christianity. Don't allow the endorsements of conservatives like Ralph Reed discourage the compassionate, liberal Christian from reading this brilliant work. Jefferon's love for the teachings of Jesus resulted in this creative example of how inspirational the "word of God" is and how it may serve as a guide to life....more info
One for the nightstand Approaching the bible form a non-theistic, religious humanist frame of mind is quite a difficult one. In fact, seemingly impossible. I have, however always been facinated by the Bible, it's history and our attraction to it. The Jefferson Bible was perfect for me. His verson of the Gospels excludes the virgin birth, the raising of the dead, the casting out of demons and even the ressurection! Instead it focuses on the TEACHINGS of Jesus... the SPIRIT rather than the LETTER. For those interested in the teachings of Jesus without all the 'fantacy' I suggest this book at all costs....more info
Thank you for the warning I wish to thank the reader who gave warning about William Murchison's essay being attached to this volume, as well as the warning about the endorsement by the Christian Coalition.
I have already read "The Jefferson Bible" itself from another source and found Jefferson's work of carefully choosing bible passages and collecting them into a single common sense gospel narrative a brilliant and enlightening take on the essential heart of the teachings of Jesus. Mr. Jefferson eliminated the virgin birth, the miraculous healings, and the resurrection, leaving only the essential teachings and a very human biography of Jesus.
But, attaching Williams Murchison's essay to "The Jefferson Bible" does not seem to be an accurate reflection of Thomas Jefferson's work.
So, I have purchased the other copy of the "The Jefferson Bible", the one with the essay by Forrester Church. ...more info
Worthy Text, but Percy Everett's 'Intro' ruins this edition... Everett should stick to scribbling out his fiction, because his 'intro' is completely unrelated to the adjoining Jefferson works & certainly detracts from any scholarly reflection. Everett's anger over racism and slavery is spewed out while he attempts to mock and discount the works - based not on shortcomings of the works but on Everett's hatred of the author.
The Jefferson material is certainly worthwhile, as described in other reviews, however I suggest the purchase of a different edition - sans Percy's baloney....more info
Ignorance + Arrogance = "Enlightenment" Thomas Jefferson was a man of the (self-described) Enlightenment. Not knowing anything about Christianity, he hated it. He disbelieved in all of its central tenets -- that Christ was Christ, not simply a "moral teacher"; that He was born of a virgin; that he rose on the third day according to the Scriptures; that He ascended into the Heavens; and that he will come again in glory, to judge the living and the dead, among others.
Yet, Jefferson called Jesus Christ "the greatest moral teacher." How could he avoid concluding that He was simply a liar or a lunatic, in light of His claims to be the "Son of Man" and "the Way, the Truth, and the Light"? Simply, he argued that His Apostles had "made it all up." The Scriptures, if Jefferson was right, were just one big lie.
Pity Jefferson. Having no familiarity whatsoever with the writings of the Church Fathers (knowledge of the works of St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. John the Theologian's student at the end of the first century and author of several surviving epistles mandating obedience to one's bishop, might have spared Jefferson the writing of his tres embarrassing "Notes on Episcopacy"), he dared to declare the Church a cabal for "priestcraft's" sake.
Silly idea, that hundreds of thousands of people would conspire to become monks in the deserts of Egypt (routinely 120 degrees in the shade), Palestine, etc. Crazy of Saul of Tarsus to give up a position of esteem among his own people for the life of a peripatetic outcast. The only explanation of these phenomena I can arrive at is that these people thought what they were doing was based on Truth.
One can grant Jefferson a little wiggle room, in light of his assumption that Roman Catholicism was the oldest variant of Christianity still extant. Yet, others in his day (including other members of the Virginia elite) knew the history of the Church well enough to be familiar with Greek Orthodoxy. (Why did Jefferson insist on equating papal abuses with "Christianity"?) They, unlike Jefferson, did not have a pathological ("sinful"?) aversion to the idea that anyone knew more than they, that their minds were the limit of wisdom. They didn't live the life of Epicurus on a mountaintop like this red-headed prodigal, supported in luxury by their slaves. They had not all bought into Satan's sin.
Jefferson didn't know, as we have seen in the last 8 years, that there is a surviving manuscript in Greek from the first century of a large portion of the Gospel of Matthew JUST AS WE HAVE IT, in biblical Greek. So much for the grand conspiracy to make "Jesus" into God. I guess He was God. What does that mean to Thomas Jefferson, wherever he is now?...more info
The Teachings OF Jesus, not ABOUT Jesus Thomas Jefferson (TJ) thought very highly of Jesus as a philosopher but he had no use for the dogma of Christianity as developed by those evangelists (as epitomized by Paul) who followed Jesus. He believed the writers of the New Testament to be uneducated; delivering word of mouth, fabricated and exaggerated information decades after the fact, and did not consider any of it to be inspired by God. With encouragement from others, including John Adams, he decided to "reorganize" the New Testament, deleting the objectionable parts, leaving only the teachings of Jesus.
TJ did this twice - once when he was in the White House, spending only 2 or 3 nights on it after doing his routine daily correspondence - and the more definitive version which we have here, when he was 76, about 1820. Since TJ considered anyone's faith to be a private affair, it's not clear whether he ever expected publication. There are hints that he went to some efforts to avoid public knowledge of at least the first version, probably because the more vocal of his opponents already reviled him as an infidel too impious to be president, and a theological heretic.
TJ's Bible, only 46 pages, ended up being a rearrangement of the gospels only, excluding any parts he didn't like - virgin birth, miracles, resurrection, and dogma developed by first century Christians. TJ, in a letter to Benjamin Rush describing his planned redaction of the Gospels, said only, "I have a view of the subject which ought to displease neither the rational Christian nor Deist." While contemplating his redaction, he wrote, "There will be found remaining the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man. I have performed this operation for my own use, by cutting verse by verse out of the printed book, and by arranging the matter which is evidently his, and which is as distinguishable as diamonds in a dunghill."
In the second century, Titian wrote the "Diatessaron," an attempt to combine and harmonize the four gospels. It enjoyed semi-canonical standing in the Syriac Christian church for centuries. Thomas Friedman has written two books about the Documentary Hypothesis, making the Torah (first five books of the Old Testament) a redaction of several ancient writers. TJ was not the first to attempt improvements on either Testament of the Bible.
Careful review of TJ's Bible reveals that it was difficult for him to get rid of all he despised and yet keep all that he liked. Good works were so interspersed with miracles that one could not get rid of the miracle without lessening the value of the moral lesson.
To quote from the book, "Like other Enlightenment rationalists, TJ was convinced that the real villain in the Christian story was the apostle Paul, who had corrupted the religion OF Jesus into a religion ABOUT Jesus, which thus had, in combination with the otherworldly outlook of the 4rth gospel, produced the monstrosities of dogma, superstition, and priestcraft which were the essence of Christian orthodoxy. The essence of authentic religion, and therefore of the only kind of Christianity in which TJ was interested, needed to be rescued from these distortions, so that the true person and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth might rise from the dead page - the only kind of resurrection TJ was prepared to accept."
If this book is to be believed, at least between 1904 and 1956, a copy of the Jefferson Bible was given to each US Senator upon inauguration. As much as TJ believed in separation of church and state, I wonder what he would have thought of this practice.
I can highly recommend this little book. It has not only a readable version of the gospels (uniquely shuffled), but a pre-commentary and post-commentary which give a superb view of TJ's religious views.
th heart of christian ethics I was curious as to what & how the new Testament was "edited" by Jefferson. The description of miracles was minimised. Dialogues focussed on exposition of morality & basic belief. I wonder as to leaders/ advocates of several organised faiths reaction & agreement with the corpus of Jeffersons "ommisions"...more info
Jefferson, almost an athiest but a well read one. A vital peek into how a person who disregarded common religion as little more than social interaction viewed and revered the teachings of Jesus as recorded in the Christian Bible. His personal "Reader's Digest" (r) version of the true Gospel. See Jefferson's mind through the mirror of his selections....more info
Piece of American History This bargain is an impoprtant piece of American history. Jefferson was a diest, which they viewed God as like a fine clock maker and made the government intself, not the constitution. They got rid of anything supernatural from the Bible. It stands along side the King James Bible and the 1611 edition of the King James, the works of Martin Luther as one of the most important reads for a Christian in American history. I liked it a lot, but it's too skimpy a volume to be a classic, but it is famous. ...more info
Jesus as accessible moral leader I have always been interested in Thomas Jefferson. He is one of the most enigmatic of American heroes. All the ambiguity of Jefferson is well documented so I will not go into that here. I also have to state that I have a curiosity about religion and spirituality without embracing any denomination or sect. This made the Jefferson Bible doubly appealing to me. It was an opportunity to get a glimpse of Jeffersons thoughts and beliefs as well as seeing Jesus in a different light. I greatly appreciate being able to read about Jesus removed from the rest of the Bible. This secularizing of Jesus will probably be viewed as blasphemous by some Christians but I found it to be most rewarding. It was great to just view Jesus as the wonderful moral teacher that he was without having some overbearing, self righteous religious fanatic screaming and ranting incoherently. This book brought me closer to Jesus simply by not having to listen to all the negatives trappings many of his so-called followers have tacked on to his message. This is a valuable book on both the philosophical and historical level. It should be read in colleges around the country. I gained a greater appreciation of both Jesus and Jefferson through reading this book....more info
A Must Read To avoid trying to be inspirational, let me just say this book, along with Norman Thomas Remick's book on Jefferson's secular thinking, "West Point: Thomas Jefferson: Character..." combine to bring the heart and mind of Thomas Jefferson into clear focus, in spite of the fact others still like to portray him to be as mysterious as a sphinx. All of the "Jefferson Bible" books are a must read, but this one I felt was particularly well done. Highly recommended....more info
Red Letter version w/ references to scriptures The best study of the "social & moral" teachings of Jesus
is this version of the Jefferson Bible.
It has red-letter text for the quotations of Jesus,
and cites the NT passages from which they are taken.
It is in the King James version,
so you may want to use [...]
for the modern English translations of the Jesus quotations,
which will give the poetry of the KJV new life.
Taking out all the Theology & Eschatology
was a brilliant inovation by Thomas Jefferson....more info
A Little Thought in the Midst of the Passion ...
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 his as, either. 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....more info
Jefferson's genius shines through!! If you want to see Jesus in his own words. You must read this. Jefferson applied reason and science to break the Gospels down to just that which is directly attributed to Jesus Christ, You'll be surprised at how much more you can learn from this book than from the Bible....more info
Founding "god" father This streamlined synopsis of the teachings of Jesus Christ is drawn from the gospels of the bible without any religious dogma. The parables Jesus spoke are compiled nicely and provided me with the life lessons which I attempt to live by. ...more info
Jefferson's Bible--a lens that worked for him It is interesting that any religious writing that is capable of being used in some way to detract from the "authority" of the church is so often the object of great discussion. Jefferson's Bible provides such an occasion, for no doubt Jefferson questioned some of the claims of the church that he felt to be unreasonable. That's the bind. We are attracted to Jesus but often repulsed by the Church. It is only fitting that we reclaim Jesus in any way that we can. Jesus is the chief metaphor revealing humanity at its best. Through this metaphor we learn of redemptive love. Jefferson found his lens by which to connect with Jesus. The rest of us must find our own lense--and one way we can do this, perhaps, is by trying to understand what others have done. Jefferson has left us a personal "testament" by having extracted those parts of the New Testament that spoke to him. Those parts of the Scripture are for him now "framed and on the wall", so to speak, and because the book has been published, his favorite Scripture portions are spotlighted for us in this book. I'm not sure he meant his special portions of the Scripture to be on public display. Perhaps each of us who are interested might find our own set of very special parts of the Bible? If we ourselves were to do this, that would probably have pleased Jefferson, in my opinion....more info
This book sends the Christian Right to the hills!!! Thomas Jefferson, one of our Founding Fathers, is clearly against the Christian church whose teachings are mainly based on those of Paul (Corinthians) which he calls the "Great Corruptor" of Jesus' teachings. I guess not all Founding Fathers are Christians (by the definition of what a Christian is, that is, one that studies all the supernatural stuff + Corinthians, etc.), eh?
Another great read is Thomas Payne's Age of Reason.
This is what the Founders want for religious freedom, not what the Christian Right wants which is to force the government into an instrument of their filth.
If you are a Christian, i strongly recommend reading this book. Jefferson examine the writings of Mark/Luke/etc and realized that the only thing that can be trusted, are when the three of them testify to the SAME effect (i.e. the resurrection section and immaculate birth are not taughted by Jesus himself, and they vary between the three accounts). He also points out the main issue: Jesus did not write his own teachings down, and unlike Plato, etc. much of the things we have today in the Bible are written years later, from HUMAN memory. He also points out the paganistic nature of Christianity, which derives from Judaism -- and in order to convert pagans to Christianity, it must have paganistic characteristics, such as supernatural events that Paul and others later added to the bible and thus, corrupted what Jesus taught....more info
Interesting premise The approach Jefferson took by pulling only those items out that could be directly attributed to Jesus made for a very good read. It provides a different view of the bible....more info
An Enlightening Read The brilliant statesman who drafted the Declaration of Independence and served as America's third president boldly separated himself from the established churches of his day. Regarding Jesus as a great moral guide but not a divine figure, and believing that Jesus' message had been distorted by Christian prelates, Jefferson discarded the Old Testament and the works of Paul, and extracted from the Gospels the basic story and teachings of Jesus to compile what is called The Jefferson Bible. This new Noontide edition of a long-suppressed work is set in large type for easy reading. In an enlightening introduction, Biblical- and religious scholar Dr. Martin Larson explains the deist outlook of Jefferson and some of America's other founding fathers...more info
Very nice Nicely bound and printed. A fine copy of this unique book. A forward is sorely lacking however....more info
The Jefferson Bible Worth Reading First, and foremost from my perspective, I liked that Jefferson focused on the man Jesus and what He taught.
As I travel my spiritual path, my focus is also on the man Jesus, what He taught, how He lived and most of all how He treated others. Much could be learned and differences could be made today in our society if this were so. The four gospels were interwoven throughout the book which makes it easy to follow, I only wish the print had been larger. I was disappointed it was so very small and this made it much more difficult for me to read....more info
The Jefferson Bible: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth I bought this out of curiosity. It's somewhat interesting but might be more so if it were in mondern English....more info
Well... just read on "And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." (Revelation 22:19)
The Jefferson Bible is a book that I read not in search of redemption but out of curiosity. I am a Christian and have been for over eight years. For some time, I revolted against all atheism, and refused to read any literatures against Christianity. But I had discovered as I matured more, that different opinions and beliefs are vital to one's life. I read several books and they were okay, but then I picked up The Jefferson Bible to see what our third President had to offer. I read it open-mindedly; willing to see my convictions changed, as from what I had seen, Jefferson was a brilliant man with much knowledge. The preface provoked me to further curiosity; I found it a bit dry, but it interested me, because of this man's apparent change in life because of this book. As I read "The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson" (Forrest Church), I found his history appealing, although a bit confusing. I had always come to the conclusion John Adams had been a Christian, and yet he encouraged Jefferson's efforts in placing "the character of Jesus in its true and high light." Jefferson had many encouragers of whom I have never heard of too that were not religious, but materialists, socialists, atheists, etc.
Anyways, after concluding that the men of the time of Jefferson were more intent on philosophy that spiritualism, I continued on my research. I studied Jefferson efforts, as he, "razor in hand, ... sat editing the Gospels during February, 1804" to make Jesus more of a philosopher than a Redeemer. I found that Jefferson's efforts were poor and very disappointingly researched. Jesus, without His leading us to eternal life, has nothing to offer. He had a very few good morals to teach, but each was linked to the Way, and there was no way Jefferson could have depicted them to fit his intentions. I found that Jefferson's Jesus lacked the ingenuity and flowing of readability. Jefferson attempted to only include Jesus' morals and philosophies, but also included several of Jesus claims to being the Son of God, that I would have assumed he would omit. The main catch was that he allowed the verse where Pilate puts up the sign "JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS" in Jesus' crucifixion, and that he left several mentions of the resurrection. I found that without Jesus Christ's teaching of eternal life, that this work of Jefferson has no authority or reference. It leaves Jesus as more of a heretic than anything else. He refers to God as His Father, and this book portrays Him as one who taught well but lost His mind before His death. It is sad that many consider Jefferson's work a masterpiece. I think Jefferson did his best to portray Jesus in the way he wished (as one who was a great philosopher), but failed.
I believe that the only reason for men deeming this as truthful is because they are attacking the truth of Jesus, and will resort to any other than the one truth: that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and He holds to Way to eternal life. It is sad to know how Jefferson and many of his contemporaries end up in the end, condemned to eternal death. For there is no way to Life other than through the Son of God ~ not through "Jesus the philosopher".
I would recommend this book to those curious about Jefferson's beliefs, as they are ingeniously portrayed throughout. But if you are looking to see "the true Jesus", I am afraid you will be disappointed. Many atheists will do there best to get the most out of it (after blocking from their minds the mention of Jesus' Father and the resurrection as Jefferson did, because He failed to omit it; the Gospels mean nothing without the Truth.), but there is nothing to learn other that Jefferson was lost and so were the others mentioned in the forward, afterward, etc. Jefferson tried to get rid of all that "supernatural stuff", and though he tried, he only got everything confused. The stuff other than Jefferson's "cuttings" were well written although a little mislead, so I give it three stars (though if I were going by how much I enjoyed and learned from it, it would be one or two). Does it deserve it? Read it and find out. Good luck.
"We cannot separate His demands from His love. We cannot dissect Jesus and relate only to the parts we like." --Rebecca Manley Pippert...more info
The Good Parts New Testament Did you ever wonder what the Gospels would be like without all that supernatural stuff? Thomas Jefferson did, and he found out [in around 1820] by using multiple copies of the Bible and a razor blade. The result was The Life and Morals Of Jesus of Nazareth in four languages. The Jefferson Bible reprints the english version of The Life And Morals along with an excellent introductory essay by Forrest Church, Unitarian minister and son of Senator Frank Church, and a decent closing essay by Jaroslav Pelikan. I have known about the Jefferson Bible for years, but finally read it this year on Easter [it seemed like a good thing for an atheist and rationalist to do]. Jesus said some pretty cool things [and some pretty spacey things], and the force of the teachings come out more when divorced from everything else that appears with them in the New Testament. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the teachings of Jesus, or the mind and the religion of the writer of the Declaration of Independence. And if your neighbor starts telling you that the public schools should start teaching the religion of the Founding Fathers, you can give them a copy of the Jefferson Bible....more info
Jesus Escaped the Fundamentalists! This work condenses the scattered faith documents that are the "Gospels" into a kernel of real truth. It is a truly remarkable piece of work for those of us who believe Christ is more than the charicature that many zealots paint him as today. Jefferson deduced the real message in the New Testament, which was a call to live a better, more ethical life. He saw through the amalgam of Greek mythology, cynic-style homilies, and cosmic-battle cultic material that was mish-mashed together by 2nd century apologists to create a life for a man whose very existence is debatable. Christ is a concept and a model, not a god! Jefferson indeed created a bible that can be used as a life tool, not a tool of oppression and coersion with which one can be saved or damned....more info