(Primary resource for this post: “5 Facts About Thomas Jefferson’s Faith” by Carol Kuruvilla. The Huffington Post, 04/13/2015.)
Thomas Jefferson is celebrated as the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, but few know that he also cut-and-pasted portions and versions of the Gospels together to “write” his own New Testament.
Thomas Jefferson was an avid churchgoer, “sometimes going alone on horseback, when his family remained at home.” But in his private life, Jefferson rejected many traditional Christian teachings. His scientific, rational mind rejected what he deemed superstitious, irrational elements in the New Testament – in particular, miracles.
As Jefferson put it:
The whole history of these books [the Gospels] is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine. In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills.
Jefferson Wrote His Own Bible!
“Jefferson blamed the Gospel writers, the apostle Paul, and other church leaders for corrupting Jesus’ message over the centuries. In an effort to get rid of what he believed to be excess, Jefferson used a knife to cut away portions of the Gospels that talked about Jesus’ miracles –like the feeding of 5,000 with two fish and five loaves of bread. He then pasted together the remaining verses, which contained Jesus’ ethical teachings and parables. The resulting book, The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth, was organized by topic.
“In 1820, Jefferson made another attempt to recreate the Bible. He pasted Greek, Latin, French and English versions of the New Testament together, to present a comprehensive view of the text. His book, officially titled The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, eventually came to be called The Jefferson Bible. (Kuruvilla:”5 Facts About Thomas Jefferson’s Faith”)
Jefferson Quotes on His Religion
You say you are a Calvinist. I am not. I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know.
I am a real Christian—that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ.
I am a Christian in the only sense in which He wished anyone to be: sincerely attached to His doctrines.”
More About The Jefferson Bible
Are you curious about The Jefferson Bible? What did Jefferson include? How did he organize it? The good news is that The Jefferson Bible was published. In fact, it’s still being published. It is available for sale on Amazon.com, other online book outlets, and from bookstores.
If you’d like to know more, click The Jefferson Bible: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth