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My Take: How Thomas Jefferson’s secret Bible might have changed history
A Smithsonian conservator displays the cover page from Thomas Jefferson's Bible.
January 11th, 2012
11:38 AM ET

My Take: How Thomas Jefferson’s secret Bible might have changed history

Editor's note: Mitch Horowitz is editor-in-chief of Tarcher/Penguin and editor of Penguin’s new reissue of The Jefferson Bible.

By Mitch Horowitz, Special to CNN

(CNN) Imagine the following scenario: A U.S. president is discovered to be spending his spare time taking a razor to the New Testament, cutting up and re-pasting those passages of the Gospels that he considered authentic and morally true and discarding all the rest.

Gone are the virgin birth, divine healings, exorcisms and the resurrection of the dead, all of which the chief executive dismissed as “superstitions, fanaticisms and fabrications.”

Such an episode occurred, although the revised version of Scripture remained unseen for nearly seven decades after its abridger’s death. Thomas Jefferson intended it that way.

During most of his two terms in the White House, from 1801 to 1809, and for more than a decade afterward, Jefferson the third U.S. president and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence committed himself to a radical reinterpretation of the Gospels.

With a razor and glue brush at this side, Jefferson lined up English, French, Greek and Latin editions of Scripture and proceeded to cut up and reassemble the four Gospels into an exquisitely well-crafted, multilingual chronology of Christ’s life.

Jefferson lined up different editions of Scripture.

In Jefferson’s view, this revision represented a faithful record of Christ’s moral code, minus the miracles that the Enlightenment-era founder dismissed as historical mythmaking.

The book eventually became known as The Jefferson Bible and is now being rediscovered in new editions, including one published this month by Tarcher/Penguin, and as the focus of a Smithsonian exhibit.

Ask most people today if they have heard of Jefferson’s Bible and you will receive blank stares. Indeed, for much of American history, The Jefferson Bible was entirely unknown. Jefferson intended it as a work of private reflection, not a public statement.

As contemporary readers discover the work, it is tempting to wonder how American history might look different had Jefferson’s radical document come to light closer to its completion.

Jefferson was still working on his Bible during his presidency, so its theoretical publication wouldn’t have compromised his electability. But if the book had been made public after its final completion in 1820, when Jefferson had only six more years to live, it likely would have become one of the most controversial and influential religious works of early American history.

A curator handles a "source" Bible from which Jefferson cut out passages.

That was a scenario Jefferson took pains to avoid. After being called an “infidel” during his 1800 presidential race, Jefferson knew the calumny he could bring on himself if word spread of his “little book.” Although he had his work professionally bound, he mentioned it only to a select group of friends. Its discovery after his death came as a surprise to his family.

Jefferson’s wish for confidentiality held sway until 1895 when the Smithsonian in Washington made public his original pages, purchased from a great-granddaughter. In 1904, Congress issued a photolithograph edition and presented it for decades as a gift to new legislators, a gesture that would likely cause uproar in today’s climate of political piety.

Because of the book’s long dormancy following Jefferson’s death, and its limited availability for generations after arguably the first truly accessible edition didn’t appear until 1940 The Jefferson Bible has remained a curio of American history.

So how would the earlier publication of The Jefferson Bible have changed American history? It's impossible to know for sure, but the 1820s inaugurated a period of tremendous spiritual experiment in America: It was the age of Mormonism, Unitarian Universalism and Shakerism, among other new faiths.

There’s little doubt that many Americans, who were already fiercely independent in matters of religion, would have seen The Jefferson Bible as the manifesto of a reformist movement call it “Jeffersonian Christianity” focused not on repentance and salvation but on earthly ethics. Such a movement could have swept America, and also have spread to Europe, where Jefferson was esteemed.

A broad awareness of Jefferson’s work would have surely engendered a more complex view of the religious identity of Jefferson and other founders. Indeed, one of Jefferson’s most trusted correspondents while he was producing his Bible was his White House predecessor, John Adams, who in turn confided to Jefferson his distrust of all religious orthodoxy. These men were impossible to pin pat religious labels on.

Because Jefferson published relatively little during his lifetime, the appearance of The Jefferson Bible would have created a different, and more confounding, public image of the statesman as someone struggling deeply with his own religious beliefs. The Jefferson that appears behind his reconstruction of Scripture is someone who brushed aside notions of miraculous intervention and canonical faith.

As The Jefferson Bible conveys, however, Jefferson considered Jesus’ moral philosophy the most finely developed in history, surpassing the ethics of both the ancient Greeks and the Hebrews. He insisted that Christ’s authentic doctrine was marked by a stark, ascetic tone that clashed with the supernatural powers attributed to him.

“In extracting the pure principles which he taught,” Jefferson wrote in 1813, “we should have to strip off the artificial vestments in which they have been muffled by priests, who have travestied them into various forms. ... There will be found remaining the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man.”

Jefferson’s minimalist approach to the Gospels reveals an attitude that he disclosed only privately, just months before his death: “I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know."

In that sense, Jefferson the politician wouldn’t have stood a chance in the current presidential race, where faith and piety are on constant display. The political process might be more open today to candidates of varying degrees and types of belief if The Jefferson Bible were more central to the nation’s history.

The Jefferson Bible opens a window on Jefferson’s struggle to find a faith with which he could finally come to terms. It was this kind of intimate, inner search not the outward pronouncement and establishment of religious doctrine that the man who helped shape modern religious liberty sought to protect in America.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Mitch Horowitz.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: History • My Take • Opinion • Politics

soundoff (1,432 Responses)
  1. kikigos

    I see the recurrance of "useless" in regard to the bibile. Do the writers supposse God presents His truths as something possibly useful to them in the life they have chosen? Something like Helpfful Hints from the Man Upstairs?

    There are two parts to the bible, the Law and the Gospel. Often they are intermingled. If you can not accept with unspeakable joy the gospel that God offers, perhaps life has not taught yout to understand His Law. Sometimes experience is helpful.

    January 11, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • The Phist

      With enough experience, you'll reject the whole thing. That is, if you actually read it.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • Chrism

      Excellent point. Don't knock it if you haven't tried living it. :)

      January 11, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And what if you DID try living it, you dweeb?

      January 11, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • JC

      "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs.'That's what the Good Book says:) Let them celebrate April 1st as the day of thier happiness:)

      January 11, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • The Phist

      That would explain why easter is in April.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • JC

      Ok This EXPLAINS the stance:The Phist had religion & not a personal relationship with Jesus. A relationship cannot be formed through an intellectual excercise.

      QUOTE:
      The Phist

      Incorrect assumption John. Allow me to correct you.

      At one time (for approximately 20 years), I was a christian. Like the majority of christians, I rarely picked up my bible to read it unless requested in church, or for bible study. Naturally, bible study and church services cherry-pick the scripture for specific teachings. They always ignore everything else. One day, I noticed something a little "off" if you will. Someone asked me about the creation myth, so I fired open the book of genesis and read the myth in the first chapter. Then I went to chapter two, and once again, the myth is written over again. But not in the same order.

      I'd been taught that the bible is perfect in every way without mistakes. It was taught to me that the bible was a perfect writing and "experts" had been unable to find a single contradiction or anything wrong with it. I found it odd that I'd find something so stupid, such an obvious contradiction. So, I asked myself, "How did the 'experts' miss something so obvious?" I kept reading. Every once in a while, I'd find something out of place. I read it all the way through, and then started over. I did this a bunch of times. After all, at the time my belief was that this whole myth was actually real. In reading it multiple times, I located some things that church never taught. Things that fail the christian faith altogether and it's all in the bible.

      You see, the bible itself showed me that the whole thing is a farce. I soon thereafter realized that it is a myth, as are all other religions. I found everything I was looking for. And I'm much happier now that I know I don't have to live in fear of burning in hell for being a human. It's quite refreshing.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
  2. Gary N.

    I wonder where Thomas Jefferson is right now.

    This part of scripture from Revelation 22:18-19 is not to be messed with.

    18 For[i] I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add[j] to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away[k] his part from the Book[l] of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

    January 11, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • Void

      I better start pretending to believe. This God character is scaring me!

      January 11, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • The thinker

      seems a bit too convenient to me.

      I tried that whole "you better make me a sammich or I'll remove you from the book of life" and I just got THAT look again.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • Huuurp Deeeeerp

      I wonder which priest wrote those passages. XD

      January 11, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • ee

      So let me get this straight, the King James version of the bible is different from the Jefferson version, how? The bible has been altered time and time again, who is to say what God intended as the bible was written by man. Just a question?

      January 11, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • PleaseUseLogic

      Jefferson is dead. Pretty simple. I'm sure his nutrients fed some grass or trees where he was buried. The guy who wrote the words of your quote simply added them to an existing book. He probably didn't want anyone messing up his writing, although others certainly did by adding other writings and books to what you know your version of the Bible. There really isn't any "original" Bible. Each section has been added on, modified, translated, or simply included books from even older religions and their holy books over ~3,500 years. There are thousands of different versions in current use. They have different numbers of books, different authors, different translations of the same phrases from earlier writings, etc.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • jespo

      "A man or a woman who acts as a medium or fortuneteller shall be put to death by stoning; they have no one but themselves to blame for their death." (Leviticus 20:27 NAB)...be careful you don't try to answer that....moronic quoting as proof of your position instead of using your mind to explain it....

      January 11, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • JC

      Good Stuff – I guess you touched some nerves. The Bible is proved by the very existence of Israel & Jerusalem is under Jewish control as foretold. The Dead Sea Scrolls is the physical evidence

      January 11, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
  3. Sahari

    What if God showed up one day, and sat everybody down and told them that the truth lies within, and has nothing to do with who you can get to agree to what? Oh, wait, He's already done that.

    January 11, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • TR6

      Funny, I don't remember being part of that discussion. Does any one else remember being there?

      January 11, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  4. Shimsho

    IM NOT CHRISTIAN BUT I HOPE THAT ALL ATHEISTS DIE AND BURN IN H*LL!!!

    January 11, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • The Phist

      Too bad hell doesn't exist.

      January 11, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • jespo

      there is no hell, no heaven...sorry, nope, nothing....but you sound evangelical...off to a good start...

      January 11, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • JC

      @Phist – correct : just like the earth was flat; that man could not fly;

      January 11, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • HappyAgnostic

      You're an atheist, but you believe in hell? Wow. I can't even come up with a retort or insult worthy of someone so far down the intellectual ladder.....

      January 11, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      How sweet of you.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
  5. Jazzymom

    Atheists motto in life is to hate religion and religious people, being against religion (particularly Christianity), to be ignorant, idiotic, hateful and uneducated. They can't get anything accomplished good for themselves and everyone else other than causing problems in our society. One day they will realize their big mistake and face the truth with their creator.

    January 11, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And pigs will fly. Where's your evidence that atheists are causing any problems whatsoever?

      Never mind. You're an idiot.

      January 11, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • jespo

      actually, we tend to place higher on IQ scores than deists all the time.....it's because we think....and don't look smug when thinking about us burning in your hell, it's un-christian...but expected...

      January 11, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • Snow

      why does that god guy show the truth today itself.. why wait for that "one day". is he shy or something?

      Besides do you remember one of the last things jesus had said (supposedly after resurrection)? that he would be reborn before the current generation would die.. that was, umm, 1900 years ago.. wonder whats keeping the god from saving the souls.. or could it be that he lied.. *gasp

      January 11, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • jespo

      typo...oopsie...

      January 11, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • jonborg

      I know plenty of atheists who respect religious people. The problem is that the majority of religious people are dogmatic and unwilling to hear critiques. Is it no wonder atheists get mad? If you want religious people you can respect, check out the Quakers, or even the majority of Episcopalians. Scholars like Marcus Borg and John Crossan are good too. It isn't all Christians, just the majority of you.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • Kuwait

      To all Aithiest,

      1/ Life is not worth living if there is no life after life
      2/ Death is very scary if you do not believe in the life after
      3/ You will believe Hell when you are there

      January 11, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • PleaseUseLogic

      They founded the United States of America. I'd put that one in the "win" column for atheists and agnostics.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • The Phist

      Kuwait, allow me to address your stupidity:

      1/ Life is not worth living if there is no life after life
      WRONG – Life is great. I don't need an excuse to make decisions.
      2/ Death is very scary if you do not believe in the life after
      WRONG – Since there is nothing, then there is nothing to fear.
      3/ You will believe Hell when you are there
      WRONG – Hell would have to exist for this to be true. It does not.

      By the way, I've been to Kuwait. I can see why people over there want to be dead.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • Noocrat

      That's an interesting notion.

      It's more curious that prisons have a smaller percentage of atheists than the general population. Some food for thought, it would seem that the believers are causing the problems. We're between 15 and 20% of the population, and yet, less than 1% of the people in prison associate with us. Strange.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "Aithiest"

      Yeah, I really am impressed by Kuwait's mastery of the English language.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • TR6

      Yes, Bill Gates is using his money to cause so much extra suffering (rolling eyes)

      January 11, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • Shimsho

      noocrat @ There are ~ 16% of the U.S. not members of any religion, of those are 1.6% atheists/agnostics. Just because someone (like myself) is not member of any religion does NOT mean I'm an atheist/agnostic. Get educated and smarter!

      January 11, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • Kraig Derstler

      Americans make a fetish about the infallability of everyone's religion. Heinlein had it right - "Stupid is stupid, faith doesn't make it right."

      January 12, 2012 at 1:40 am |
    • Really-O?

      @Kuwait – Regarding: To all Aithiest,

      "1/ Life is not worth living if there is no life after life"
      ...actually, accepting that this life is most probably all you (consciousness/ego) have can lead to much greater depth of experience (refer to writings by those who have faced death and survived – not to be confused with those who claim to have died and "come back to life").
      "2/ Death is very scary if you do not believe in the life after"
      ...possibly, but almost all "die" several times each day (if death is viewed as the complete loss of consciousness/ego/self-awareness) when we enter stage 3 sleep. I'm sure you're not afraid to sleep each night.
      "3/ You will believe Hell when you are there"
      ...this is not falsifiable while we are alive, so we all will have to wait-and-see. Interestingly, this seems to me to be the only valid reason to fear death and there is no evidence to support the belief.

      Fortunately all three of your positions are unsupported by evidence or reason. Are you concerned about the meaning of your life or where you will spend your time after death because you do not believe in Zeus, Thor, Votan, Vishnu or any of the other gods man has proposed?

      January 12, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  6. Agnostic

    the U.S. is a Christian country but with secular government. Similar to Turkey. Now enough!

    January 11, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • Clint

      From the Treaty of Tripoly, signed in 1797 by president John Adams:

      "Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen,—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

      This country is not, nor has it ever been a christian nation.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • Chrism

      Clint, it's a weak argument. The treaty was written in Arabic, article 11 was jibberish. It was translated to english by an atheist (Barlow) . It was renegotiated 8 years later and article 11 was notably dropped. Also the supreme court and numerous founding fathers said the us was founded a Christian nation.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Chrism

      “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.”

      - George Washington

      “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable.”

      - George Washington, Thanksgiving Proclamation 1789

      January 11, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • Chrism

      “The Declaration of Independence laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity.” – John Adams

      “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”

      - John Adams

      “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”

      - John Adams

      January 11, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • Clint

      Actually, the 1892 supreme court ruling only included the words "christian nation" in one sentence:

      "These and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation."

      ...add a volume of UNOFFICIAL DECLARATIONS to the mass of ORGANIC UTTERANCES that this is a christian nation...

      The treaty was true and legally binding and signed by our president. I'd say that's better than a misinterpreted sentence from a supreme court ruling any day......

      January 11, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • Timmy

      Who gives a crap about what someone said or did 200 years ago, or 2000 years ago. ? I have a really unique idea. Why don't we look FORWARD ?

      January 11, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
  7. Change

    What's inside Jefferson's bible? Perhaps a long list of female slaves he scre*wed! Then one day he saw a brother taking a leak out in the plantation and he couldn't believe the Mandingo of a man. Then when he returned to his quarters, he wrote..All men are created equal (African-Slaves a little bigger) and they are endowed by their creature with certain unalienable gifts that amongs them are bigger black dic*ks.

    January 11, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
  8. mason

    This bible isn't a secret... it was passed out to incoming members of the U.S. Congress for decades, until they ran out in the 1950s.

    January 11, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
  9. Beefburger

    I am thinking that perhaps most of these atheistic comments are written in a Chinese internet sweatshop.

    January 11, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • jespo

      I am thinking you need to explain how people from another country can sweat in the internet......right after lifting things up then putting them down...

      January 11, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • momoya

      Yeah, because of all the internet access and free time that's in a Chinese internet sweatshop. Americans would be surprised to learn how many of their neighbors are closet atheists who can't be honest because of the hate that christians spew in atheists' direction. American christians should be ashamed of the way they treat anybody who doesn't think exactly like they do.

      January 11, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • captain america

      It appears to be in canada. canadian qu eers trying to export their diseases to US. There's your sign

      January 11, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • jespo

      you're so right cap'n usa...believing in imaginary people floating above you is so so healthy for the mind, body, and spirit....brainwashing complete...

      January 11, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
  10. MMallon

    Thomas Jefferson is among my greatest inspirations. That he also struggled with life, death and everything in between, even with a towering intellect such as his, should bolster everyone else's confidence.

    January 11, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  11. Allen

    Wasn't a "secret" to me. I've been reading about this thing for years. CNN is a bit behind here. I've personally experienced miracles such as healing so I know they can occur. Too bad Jefferson never had that opportunity. Him revealing his "book" would have made the country turn on him, not follow him. The analysis is a bit optimistic.

    January 11, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • LuisWu

      The human brain is a powerful thing. If you believe something strongly enough, like healing, you will heal. That's been demonstrated time and time again. No miracle, just the power of the brain. Voodoo priests have been known to make people die, just by telling the they would die. Same thing. Miracles don't exist. Just delusionary fantasies attributed to the power of the human mind.

      January 11, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • byob

      Cool, What was the miricle?

      January 11, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • jp

      Did the miracle come in a little pill bottle with a label that said, 'amoxicillan'? It sure does seem like a miracle when that VD finally goes away!

      January 11, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • JC

      LuisWu
      Wonder who created the brain? Maybe some .......

      January 11, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • JC

      jp: "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs.'That's what the Good Book says:)

      January 11, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • Jo

      If it is the person's thoughts about being healed that produces the healing then I must have been born a genius. I was born with a right clubbed foot. There is a movie film of me as a very small child limping in children's high top walking shoes and you can clearly see my right bowed leg. My father was a minister and the church where he was pastor prayed for me. Some days later they noticed I was not limping anymore and that my foot was straight. I later became a liturgical dancer using my feet to praise the God that had chosen through no request of my own to heal me. My father said that it is hard to argue with someone who has had an experience.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • The Phist

      Jo. One of my friends had a similar experience. Minus prayer. And minus a minister being involved. But, no more clubbed foot. It's a miracle. Sorry, but god had nothing to do with it.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      One of my cats has six toes on each foot. I prayed to God that he would remove this curse.

      My cat still has six toes on each foot.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • JC

      @The Phist
      @Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son
      Seems that you have a troubled lives – Jesus can cure you. Try Him, you may find the PEACE that seems to allude you – asessment from your rather pathetic responses.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Cool Tom Tom...you have a polydactyl or Hemmingway cat. I think those are interesting. My two cats don't have it. It's a recessive gene in some breeds.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • TR6

      @JC:”jp: "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs.'That's what the Good Book says:)”

      It also says that: it is forbidden to cook baby goats in their mother’s milk, you can beat your slaves as hard as you want to as long as you don’t kill them and to slaughter little boys; but, keep little girls alive for your own entertainment. - Num 31:1-2, 9-11, 14-18

      January 11, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • The Phist

      Also known as "Boston Thumb Cats."

      JC, Already tried that for twenty years. jesus is dead, in a box. He was buried with his wife, son and parents. They found the site a few decades ago and it went public in 2007. It isn't widely known because it is the final nail in the coffin of christianity, so to speak. The information is very easy to find. The Discovery channel broadcasted a show about it. It's still on their website.

      You're welcome.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • JC

      Phist – If discovery channel is your source, you need help – How about a Brooklyn Bridge? Should get one. He who has a ear....

      January 11, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      JC, have you ever prayed God would give you a brain and ena ble you to use it? It's "el ude", you frig gin' f* *kt a rd.

      January 12, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • Santhosh

      Elaine (Second sister in law) – These are lveoly Mark clever boy! And yes, one Hannah is more than enough for us all!Can we purchase some prints of all of these i will look for a clever frame for them,Elainex

      May 21, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
  12. Koseki

    I sad reminder that being elected hinges on a belief in fairy-tales.

    January 11, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
  13. ashrakay

    If you only left in the morality and cut out the immorality, murder, incest, r.ape, claims of miracles, unsubstantiated remarks, et al., you'd only be left with a couple of pages. Just switch the Buddhism. You'll get more out of it.

    January 11, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • Void

      Don't need any ism.

      January 11, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • FiveDegrees

      Enough with "ism".... atheISM, nazISM, BuddHISM, HinduISM... they are all cr*p

      January 11, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • ashrakay

      Should we also get rid of antifascism, aphorism, magnetism, optimism, photojournalism and skepticism?

      January 12, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  14. The Phist

    He took out the parts referencing angels, the resurrection, but left in the stories about noah's ark, heaven and hell, etc. Irony. The whole thing is a myth. In short, he still believed in most of the myth.

    January 11, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • KeithTexas

      I see that you haven't read it

      January 11, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • LuisWu

      He didn't even read the entire article. It says this bible dealt with 4 books of the new testament only.

      January 11, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • The Phist

      I see people are clearly stupid.

      Any of you princesses do any research on the Jefferson bible? Probably not, based on the stupidity of your comments. Do some research on the Jefferson bible. When you're done looking into it and what Jefferson cut out and left in, then you can comment again.

      This is what happens when retards only read an article and never bother to look up background information. You are why our educational system is trash.

      January 11, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • jespo

      thats becasue there's no way to cut the mumbo jumbobs out of the old portion of your notsogoodbook....all you'd have is...:In the beginning....plus the se-xy parts of Songs.

      January 11, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • The Phist

      Mmmmmmmmmmm.... the songs.

      January 11, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • JC

      Synopsis: "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. "

      January 11, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • taildragon

      "Do not cast your marbles before swine. Save them for JC, for he has apparently lost his."

      January 11, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • The Phist

      In the grand scheme of things if you look at things logically, pearls are worthless. The only reason that they have any value is because someone deemed them valuable. The same goes for diamonds. Although, they are a great addition for industrial cutting equipment.

      In other words, pigs can have all the pearls they want. And they can also have all the bibles they want to go with those pearls.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • Clint

      "He didn't even read the entire article. It says this bible dealt with 4 books of the new testament only."

      Actually, the four books refernce was the four bibles in different languages. From what I udnerstand, he kept the same parts of all of them and aligned them next to each other in his book, thus a multilingual less mythical version of the bible.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
  15. Coulter

    Why is this called the Bible? it should be called Jefferson's selection from The Holy Book.

    January 11, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • The Phist

      There is really nothing holy about the bible. It's a collection of poorly written texts. Nothing more. Truthfully, it really isn't worth the read. I haven't read any of the Harry Potter books, but from what I hear they are written with a stronger storyline and more continuity than the bible was.

      January 11, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • Solomon

      Phist- To read and understand the Bible you have to have a certain level of wisdom. There is a cure for that and it is called prayer before you read the word of God.

      January 11, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • The Phist

      Really? So, wisdom will help me ignore the lies, contradictions and mistakes in the bible? Is that what you're telling me? Let me guess, you think I'm taking all of the scripture out of context and I don't know what I'm talking about, right? You know why christians say that? To justify a belief in something that they know is full of holes, but they're too scared to confront it.

      I've read the book many times. It's a complete myth. Prayer is worthless, it is a waste of time. That is unless you enjoy talking to yourself.

      January 11, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Solomon

      Phist-Bible is the most sold text on planet earth! why? because human beings have, will and continue to find the relevance and meaning of the word of God to their life.

      January 11, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • defianceguy

      Technically, it never was a 'Bible'. The picture shows the true name Jefferson called this work – 'The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth: Extracted Textually from the Gospels Greek, Latin, French, and English'

      January 11, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • jp

      hmmm...so solomon, oh nevermind...with a name like that, you are already completey biased and brainwashed.

      January 11, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • The Phist

      By your reasoning, books on the best-seller lists are from god and should be believed as truth. Thanks for providing me with this spectacular and delightful wisdom.

      January 11, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • Coulter

      @defiance-valid point! why are they wrongly calling it The Jefferson Bible?

      January 11, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • JC

      The stupidity of the responses: The Bible is proved by the very existence of Israel. As usual, no serious research done but verbal d####ia spews out. No wonder the country is heads to the dogs!

      January 11, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • John

      @ The Phist. "I've read the book many times. It's a complete myth." I wonder why you read it many times although you say it is a myth. Searching something in it and yet to find?

      January 11, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • Carmel

      A country that has its foundation based on the word of God will never see decline, if we turn away from God's principles, yes we will see decline.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • Clint

      "A country that has its foundation based on the word of God"

      From the Treaty of Tripoly, signed in 1797 by president John Adams:

      "Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen,—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

      January 11, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • The Phist

      Incorrect assumption John. Allow me to correct you.

      At one time (for approximately 20 years), I was a christian. Like the majority of christians, I rarely picked up my bible to read it unless requested in church, or for bible study. Naturally, bible study and church services cherry-pick the scripture for specific teachings. They always ignore everything else. One day, I noticed something a little "off" if you will. Someone asked me about the creation myth, so I fired open the book of genesis and read the myth in the first chapter. Then I went to chapter two, and once again, the myth is written over again. But not in the same order.

      I'd been taught that the bible is perfect in every way without mistakes. It was taught to me that the bible was a perfect writing and "experts" had been unable to find a single contradiction or anything wrong with it. I found it odd that I'd find something so stupid, such an obvious contradiction. So, I asked myself, "How did the 'experts' miss something so obvious?" I kept reading. Every once in a while, I'd find something out of place. I read it all the way through, and then started over. I did this a bunch of times. After all, at the time my belief was that this whole myth was actually real. In reading it multiple times, I located some things that church never taught. Things that fail the christian faith altogether and it's all in the bible.

      You see, the bible itself showed me that the whole thing is a farce. I soon thereafter realized that it is a myth, as are all other religions. I found everything I was looking for. And I'm much happier now that I know I don't have to live in fear of burning in hell for being a human. It's quite refreshing.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • Chrism

      Some people think they are moving away from religion and Christianity when they reject a fundamentalist, literal interpretation of the bible, but they are really moving closer to the catholic church and belief.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • John

      @ The Phist.
      It is nice to read that you are much happier now than you were before. Interesting that the bible itself showed you that the whole thing is a farce. However, I wonder why this mythological book survived all these centuries. I wonder why 11 not so educated men set out obeying a command from their master and gathered followers. I wonder why many gladly faced death during persecution instead of just giving up this farce.

      I wonder what Gamaliel would be saying if he should have lived to this day – ref Acts 5.39.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • TR6

      @Chrism:”Some people think they are moving away from religion and Christianity when they reject a fundamentalist, literal interpretation of the bible,”

      Do you know that a fundamental reading of the bible says that sometimes it’s a good thing to impregnate your daughter in law? - Genesis 38

      January 11, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • The Phist

      Oh, I don't know John. Why did so many nazis follow hitler? Why did so many muslims follow bin laden? Why was obama elected?

      Easy answer: Some people are able to sway people easily.

      Other religions have survived for centuries as well. Does that mean that those religions are real too? No, it does not. Fear is a strong motivator. If you believe in hell with all of your heart, you're going to do just enough not to go there.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • The Phist

      By the way.... the fact that 11 "not so educated" men went out following the command of their leader pretty much sums up the argument.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
  16. mike

    joey – get over it already

    January 11, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
  17. Charles Lee Ray

    The entire book should have been burned. It's completely useless.

    January 11, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • Brett

      That's what I did with my Bible.

      January 11, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Yeah, 'cause book burning is such an all-American activity.

      January 11, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • The Phist

      I don't see anything about book burning being tied solely to the United States. People of other societies have done just the same. Pages from the bible are great for getting the fireplace going.

      January 11, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
  18. jespo

    Take away the mythos, the deification, the mumbo jumbo and what do you have.....an interesting book about an interesting guy during an interesting time saying interesting things...not enough to base your entire life on, not enough to use as a wedge in politics, the world, or in your own community, not enough to demand how your kids and everyone else's should live , and certainly not enough to wage wars over, but a nice little story. Kind of like any nice little story you would find in the self help section of any Books A Million...right next to "Be a Better Person in 7 Days" and "Lose the Blues!" It's just a book people, get lives...real ones...here...on earth...the only home you'll ever have.

    January 11, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • TFX

      Right on!

      January 11, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • pmo00

      "an interesting book about an interesting guy during an interesting time saying interesting things...not enough to base your entire life on, not enough to use as a wedge in politics, the world, or in your own community"...ah, Buddhism, Confucianism, Islam..yah, and they do not instruct and bind communities? The Political Right at this time is no more prevalent that the struggles in every other major society in history. Dumping all "doctrine or "religion" leaves you with your animal instincts. It is the constructs inside a community binding "religion" or commonality which have CREATED society. Granted, the concept of a religion is being perverted right now here and over the world..This Jefferson Bible shows the tenacity and intensity of our Founding Father's vision for the United States. It is an amazing incite into Mr Jefferson's vision. And should be looked at only in that context.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
  19. Ed

    Hog wash! Still a bunch of bigioted myths, lies and fairy tails. Man controlling man. Power and ego's abound for those that brainwash inocent children by instilling fear in them.

    January 11, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      You really ought to read up on Deism before making such ignorant statements.

      January 11, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • jespo

      praytell...which part was ignorant, and which part was true?

      January 11, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • KeithTexas

      Those who comment on things they know nothing about are just as ignorant as those that live by fairy tales.

      January 11, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • jespo

      Stating that he knows nothing based upon your personal beliefs is ignorant...let's see if you can answer the question...which part was he wrong about?

      January 11, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
  20. joey

    im sure he didnt cut out the parts about owning slaves, as paul, the founder of amway, said slaves should honor their masters

    January 11, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Unknown. You can order or download a copy from Amazon and answer that question definitively rather than speculating.

      January 11, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.