Thomas Jefferson’s edited bible gets restoration treatment

I didn’t know the thing existed, myself, but apparently he sliced up a few different versions of the New Testament and reassembled the parts chronologically to follow Christ’s life up to his crucifixion. He also eliminated everything theological from the tale, including every story about miracles. The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth runs a mere 86 pages and Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is fixing up the book for a display feature.

“The volume provides an exclusive insight to the religious and moral beliefs of the writer of the Declaration of Independence, the nation’s third president, as well as his position as an important thinker in the Age of Enlightenment,” said Brent D. Glass, director of the museum, in a Thursday (March 10) announcement about the project.

The Smithsonian’s librarian purchased the book from Jefferson’s great-granddaughter for $400 in 1895, said museum spokeswoman Valeska Hilbig.

“He never sold it because he didn’t want it to be public,” Harry R. Rubenstein, the chair of the museum’s political history division, told The Washington Post. “He wanted to avoid bringing back the arguments that he was anti-Christian.”

How many Christian groups would have been offended by it then and how many others would have been impressed by his vision and work here? Maybe they would have seen it as a good sign their own beliefs were on course. There are so many flavours of Christianity, so was his concern here justified? Are there any Christian sects that ignore the theology aspects and focus solely on whatever Jesus may have intended based on the lines attributed to him? I’d be really surprised if there were none.

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