Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Jefferson Bible, The Life and Morals of Jesus by Thomas Jefferson

In compiling a stripped down version of the New Testament, Jefferson omits all supernatural references and compiles excerpts from all four Gospels into one chronological tome.

Jefferson admired Jesus' system of morals and abhorred what he saw as the corruption of the doctrines of Jesus so he set out to ". . . place the character of Jesus in its true and high light, as no impostor Himself, but a great Reformer of the Hebrew code of religion . . ."

Thus, The Jefferson Bible is familiar and yet strange. It ends, abruptly for those of us acquainted with the supposed divinity of Jesus, with his burial.

For Jefferson, the point was not what Jesus' followers made of his life and death but what Jesus himself did and said.

They [Jefferson's views of Christianity] are the result of a life of inquiry and reflection, and very different from that anti-Christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. 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, ascribing to himself every human excellence, and believing he never claimed any other.

1 comment:

Susan said...

Harpers had a good article on this awhile back.