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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 • Opinion • Politics

soundoff (1,432 Responses)
  1. Beth P

    I am fat, and this is really degrading. Just because we have Size-challenged, does not mean we should be the butt of everyone's jokes. I happen to think that Mr. Jefferson would enjoy plus sized ladies, and you boys should be ashamed of yourselves.

    January 12, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • fred

      Beth
      It was satire aimed at a poor taste post by You Are All.....
      Idea was to let You Are All...know how it was in bad taste.
      Guess you thought it was tasteless ?

      January 12, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Beth P

      Actually, I thought he was spot on. I'm pretty sure his was satire as well. And he's right, most of the people on here are fat. I got upset because I thought lol was making fun of your weight. I stand corrected. When you're 385 lbs you are sensitive haha. Fat Acceptance is critical going forward! I'm sure Mr. Jefferson would agree with that!

      January 12, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • fred

      You have a lot to be sensitive about.

      January 12, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • fred

      Beth
      Comment on sensitivity was not satire but truth. I have found that being overly sensitive is a common trait in weight problems. This also applies to weight problems that are medical in origin. The sensitivity can be to something real or something thought to be real. Like any life change process people do not change unless driven by joy or suffering. Nothing will ever happen unless someone really wants it.
      On the other hand if life is good and couldn’t be better you get a high five. My experience is biased since it is based on people that call for help and do not have resources. It's what I do. The results are always positive.

      January 12, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  2. Jefferson_Is_God

    This is more proof that Rick Perry needs to be President, and soon.

    January 12, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  3. Carrie

    Interesting.

    January 12, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  4. You are All Extremely Dumb

    Wow, all of you are extremely dumb. Every last one of you. I don't really care what you believe. I don't care if you're an atheist. I don't care if you're not. I don't care if you think you are God himself. I don't care if you are a 350+ obesity-clad loser eating behind your keyboard, which you are. The article was interesting though. Jefferson's technique is the original "cut and paste!" Let's just leave it at that. If Jefferson were alive today, and you had the opportunity to ask him what he believes, I have a strong feeling that he would say he believes that all of you (except for me, because I'm a genius) are complete and total losers. Jefferson crafted his own multilingual Bible. You sit on your computer, gaining weight and posting on CNN. You could cut and paste your own Bible with ease, seeing as how you have a computer. But instead, you get grease on the keyboard as you spout off in a pathetic attempt at English that Jefferson would be puzzled over. You might say I'm a hypocrite - after all, I too am commenting. True – except this is rare for me. Also, and most importantly, I, unlike yourself, am not obese. Finally, you won't see me replying to some idiot who actually thinks it's a good use of his time to reply to me (who cares what I think). Get that? You can reply, but I won't read it. Because I will never be back to this article. So, who is the first loser to reply? The funniest part is you know there are about 2000 people right now, reading this, enraged, thinking "I want to reply because I am so angry but don't want to look foolish! Plus I don't want to put down these chips long enough to respond." But you will anyways, because you have no control. This same lack of control is the reason for your obesity, lack of intelligence, and anger you are feeling right now. I bet that some of the "ethics" and decency Jefferson included in his "TJ Edition" include 1) Not Being Dumb and 2) Not Being gluttonous. Just remember, Jefferson hates you. Now bring it.

    January 12, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • fred

      Does anyone have a Twinkie to go with the glass of milk on my nightstand ? I am too tired to get it myself

      January 12, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • lol

      lol you're fat

      January 12, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • fred

      lol
      and happy.....................now get ready for the song so we can go home

      January 12, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • You are All Extremely Dumb

      I rest my case ................................right on this really really soft lazy boy from Sears.

      January 12, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • John

      An interesting idea, take "The Book of Positive", rearrange and manipulate to cause a PRIDEFUL tidder to oneself, speak only to those as to create a CULT interest, leave hidden amongst family knowing that MONEY will eventually claim the artifact, die in knowing that your idea will be RESURRECTED in a different time.

      This man copyrighted, wiki'd, and reddited the whole thing. No wonder people eat this up. If SOPA were to pass the only good thing to come would be the banning of this book.

      What a man does to pass the time is his business, i see the 1% being very 1% like, even in the beginning of this great country

      January 12, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • fred

      Is eating a donut circular reasoning if you are on a donut only diet?

      January 12, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • fred

      John
      If we cut the word God out of the bible would atheists still attack it ?

      January 12, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • John

      What? Eating a doughnut is delicious. Don't make it something it's not.

      January 12, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • John

      People need to realize that we as humans are inclined to fail. That is why Windows Bluescreens and Macs need updates. Roads need fixing and health needs improving.

      Ever notice how a good deed done with out acknowledgment inspires others to do so much? And how a bad deed done in broad daylight causes so much hate and backlash?

      We have Father issues, they brought us into the world, we screw it up, and blame them for not doing well.

      People know the common good, and that just because you want to call something one thing, while its completely not the core definition, means you need to find something else.

      Truth is truth and manipulating it makes it False.

      January 12, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  5. MM

    Jefferson also loved slavery. He was like most people, incredibly flawed, hypocritical, and blinded by the times he lived in. And he still managed to do some very good things for this country. But we shouldn't worship him.

    January 12, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • You are All Extremely Dumb

      Yes we should.

      January 12, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • You are All Extremely Dumb

      Yes, he loved slavery. But he also hated gay marriage and obesity. So like you say, he wasn't all bad.

      January 12, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Klaus

      What's wrong with slavery? And such a man I'd like to think, was too bright to be a victim (or even play) victim of the His times.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  6. Ben Hogan

    "...call it “Jeffersonian Christianity” – focused not on repentance and salvation but on earthly ethics. Such a movement could have swept America..."

    Sadly, because of our lack of reverence and belief in God's Word, our nation IS swept by this ideology.

    January 12, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • jay

      The US is 80% christian. 20% is hardly "swept."
      So having good morals and acting accordingly is bad. And being good just so you can later be rewarded is ideal?

      January 12, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • You are All Extremely Dumb

      Yes it is ideal, correct. Know what's not ideal? Not knowing to capitalize your own first name...FAIL.

      January 12, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  7. Tom Baughn Ph.D.

    I am elated that Penguin has decided to reprint this book, but Mr. Horowitz is omitting some critical points and in the process running the risk of creating a critical misinterpretation. The main problem is the implication of what Jefferson could have started, when Jefferson was neither the first nor the foremost in what he did. Jefferson was a product of the Enlightenment, not its originator. The bible was undergoing a process usually referred to as demythologization. That is the scientific advances of the day was trying to 'factualize' and rationalize the Holy scriptures. It was not all science behind this development, the efforts to form an ethical system that did not rely upon religious enforcement also drove the Enlightenment. It is true enough that Jefferson took the process further than many, but it is important to add that unlike the others who walked down a similar path, he did not reject Christianity or religion wholesale. Many theologians have taken a somewhat similar tack and come to peace with the good probability that there are some exaggerations in the Bible and few would hold with the Bible's age of the earth, but that is part of the point of Jefferson and his generation. That is, the Bible is a book of faith and not a geology textbook or even a critically written history text. It is a record of how people experienced their god. In the same vein, this is how Jefferson experienced God.

    January 12, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  8. FreeWill

    Okay...

    Bashing GOD, the BIBLE and Christians week is ovet.

    Pick a new cause now.

    Thank you!
    :-D

    January 12, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • momoya

      Here's your sign:

      January 12, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • jay

      Trying-to-Convert-Nonbelievers week is also over.

      January 12, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • joe blowsky

      do you think a story about jefferson is bashing christianity?

      January 16, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  9. FreeWill

    A....

    January 12, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  10. FreeWill

    Where are my brother and sisters in the Jewish, Muslim and Christian community?

    Speak up.

    January 12, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  11. FreeWill

    ....

    January 12, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  12. Bill Holder

    The Jefferson Bible is by no means "secret".

    January 12, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  13. g.g.alan

    The article was good but the comments have been AWSOME! Anyways... I believe in myself and have faith that I will make moral decisions.If I make bad decisions that effect other people(when i realize them for what they were)I will ask forgiveness from them and forgive myself. god has nothing to do with it.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  14. Dan

    He had some brains. The bible was a fabrication.

    January 12, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  15. TRUTH_HURTS

    The Intellectual community has decided to put GOD in a box. They can't explain HIM, so they dismiss HIM.

    The Atheist seem to take many positions. Many claim to have religious friends or family members. So, it must be intertesting during the holidays. Is it Xmas or Christmas? So confusing.

    The Politically Correctness group wants everyone to know, keep your religious beliefs to yourself. Don't impose them on us or we will sue you. Sign, ACLU.

    The "I'm not sure what I am" group says, tell me more what you believe.

    The Humanist wants everyone to know – we made ourselves.

    The Evolutionist wants everyone to know over million of years man evolved from pond slim, monkeys and natural selection. Hilter believed in natural selection and the Occult. See where i got him.

    The Government Control group wants to dictate and regulate what you can say, believe, and practices – when, where and how.

    The religious groups just tick off everyone above.

    The 99'%rs want the rich to give them all their money. The 1%'rs just want the 99'rs to start their own business and stop complaining.

    The republicans want democrates to think they way they.

    The democrates just want republicans to go away.

    The bloggers who stick to the story line, just want everyone to get along. The Rodney King approach to life. Don't make waves.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • momoya

      Truth_Hurts, atheists take as many positions as non-stamp collectors do. Think about it.

      January 12, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • TRUTH_HURTS

      @Momoya

      A wiser person than you or I once said:

      "stand for nothing, fall for anything."

      think about it.

      January 12, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • Chubby Rain

      Truth_Hurts,

      Atheists stand for many things, google atheist charities for a few. The one thing they don't stand for is a believe in God, and it is that, and only that, which makes them Atheists.

      January 12, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • TRUTH_HURTS

      @Chubby Rain

      makes sense. Explain why atheist hang out on a Belief Blog that focuses on GOD in some form by many religions?

      You don't believe... Stay away then. Your opinion doesn't count in the big scheme of things. Get it!

      Now, are there any other groups going to weigh in? Atheist are up by 2.

      ??????

      January 12, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • momoya

      Truth_Hurts, I have no idea what you are talking about. I am an atheist and I stand for all sorts of things.

      You made a statement about atheists "taking many positions." Firstly, that's a pointless statement because Xians stand for all sorts of things, too. Secondly, atheists are not a united religion, they simply don't carry a belief that most others do at this stage in history; thus, they have as many separate opinions as do those that don't collect stamps–you don't really think that non-stamp collectors all stand for the same thing, do you? No, non-stamp collectors only share that one thing that they all don't do.

      January 12, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • TRUTH_HURTS

      @Momoya

      all respect... You just don't get it. But,, one day you will.

      January 12, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by TRUTH_HURTS is a thinly veiled form of the flawed argument known as Pascal's Wager.

      http://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/

      January 12, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • TRUTH_HURTS

      @ Fallacy.....

      Okay, the intellect has spoken... Great web site you provided.

      Try this one... http://www.peacewithgod.jesus.net

      Where are the rest?

      January 12, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      > The Intellectual community has decided to put GOD in a box. They can't explain HIM, so they dismiss HIM.

      No, we dismiss God because God hasn't been shown to exist. We dismiss God for the exact same reasons we dismiss vampires, werewolves, leprechauns and faeries.

      > The Atheist seem to take many positions. Many claim to have religious friends or family members. So, it must be intertesting during the holidays. Is it Xmas or Christmas? So confusing.

      It's not confusing. I celebrated christmas. Mainly because christmas is not really about jesus anymore. It's about family getting together, presents and a bunch of cheer. If you ask people what they think of when they think of christmas, Jesus is always like the 6th or 7th thing.

      > The Politically Correctness group wants everyone to know, keep your religious beliefs to yourself. Don't impose them on us or we will sue you. Sign, ACLU.

      That's right, don't impose them. You're more then welcome to have your own beliefs and even talk about them. Just don't use public places to display your faith. You wouldn't like it if it were the other way around.

      > The "I'm not sure what I am" group says, tell me more what you believe.

      If you're referring to atheists, they don't believe in God. That's about it. For me, I don't have faith in anything. And if you can point something out that I have faith in, I'll stop having faith in it. That's the nature of a rational mind.

      > The Humanist wants everyone to know – we made ourselves.

      Umm, what?

      > The Evolutionist wants everyone to know over million of years man evolved from pond slim, monkeys and natural selection. Hilter believed in natural selection and the Occult. See where i got him.

      This is uninformed and stupid. Because the religious nuts are indistinguisable from trolls, I'll continue to reply.

      > The Government Control group wants to dictate and regulate what you can say, believe, and practices – when, where and how.

      By what methodology? How have you been prevented from believing what you want. Being denied having displays of your faith on public property doesn't stop you from believing.

      > The religious groups just tick off everyone above.

      The religious groups tick off everyone above because they try to push what they believe on others. No gay marriage ring any bells? How about not buying booze on Sundays. They're trying to enforce their beliefs on others. Which is wrong.

      > The 99'%rs want the rich to give them all their money. The 1%'rs just want the 99'rs to start their own business and stop complaining.

      Jesus wants the rich to give the poor all their money. Perhaps you should read your bible.

      > The republicans want democrates to think they way they.

      What?

      > The democrates just want republicans to go away.

      Probably, they are rivals.

      > The bloggers who stick to the story line, just want everyone to get along. The Rodney King approach to life. Don't make waves.

      The religious should make note of that. When was the last time a gay organization did something to prevent people from living the way they want. Never? Now tell me, when was the last time a christian organization did something to prevent gay people from living the way they want.

      The truth does hurt. Doesn't it?

      January 12, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • Mortalc01l

      TRUTH_HURTS:

      I don't believe in Zeus and neither do you

      I don't believe in Ra and neither do you

      I don't believe in Thor and neither do you

      I don't believe in Shiva and neither do you

      I don't believe in Ra and neither do you

      I don't believe in Allah and neither do you

      I don't believe in Quetzalcoatl and neither do you

      See? We're almost identical, other than the fact that I just believe in one less God than you do and the reason YOU reject ALL the thousands of other Gods for are the reason I reject YOUR God....

      January 12, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • jay

      Christmas was celebrated before jesus was born and before christianity was created. Christians adopted the holiday as a way to draw in a larger following.
      And the X in xmas is the greek symbol for Christ. So xmas literally means christmas.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • FreeWill

      Okay, we have heard enough form the God haters. Slam Christians week is over.

      They have free will to be unbelievers. Okay.

      Those who love God should speak up. Jews and Muslims we need your voice too.

      It is you right to in this public forum.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • jay

      @FreeWill
      But only christians should speak up. Other gods and religions dont exist.

      January 12, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • momoya

      Truth_Hurts, read Bobinator's excellent reply; he must have the patience of a saint to answer you so cogently on every point. Then read it again, then again, then again, rinse and repeat until something breaks through to you.

      As to your reply to me, no, I don't get it; I don't get why so many people like you can't follow simple, basic logic to get yourselves unstuck from the bog of your religious delusion.

      January 12, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • RyanM

      @Truth_Hurts, there's one big problem with trying to use Hitler's belief system to back up your faith in Christianity. Hitler was a Christian. He was quoted as publically stating...
      "My feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter"

      In Mein Kampf he wrote...
      "Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord"

      So should Hitler really be your go to guy when trying to make a positive point about Christianity?

      January 12, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • You are All Extremely Dumb

      Chubby Rain, are you chubby? If so, exactly how chubby? Nice nickname, whatever it means. I think it's hilarious. Hopefully it means you are chubby, because what's not fun about chubby?

      January 12, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  16. Klaus

    Whoever is fondling Jefferson's former belongings better have permission from either God or the Pope.

    That man ought to have been venerated a couple of time over.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:44 am |
  17. Reality

    Only for the "newbies":

    Some more words of wisdom from a wise man:

    Jefferson noted this about the Book of Revelation: "considered it as merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams." [31]

    And this about Xmas:

    "And the day will come,
    when the mystical generation of Jesus,
    by the Supreme Being as His Father,
    in the womb of a virgin,
    will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva
    in the brain of Jupiter."

    – Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
    Letter to John Adams, from Monticello, April 11, 1823.

    January 12, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Dan

      Reality........ Well done!

      January 12, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Cuda383

      This statement is constantly taken out of context by atheists and presented alone to give the impression that Jefferson saw Christianity as a myth soon to pass into history. Nothing could be further from the truth. Here is the complete passage:

      "The truth is that the greatest enemies to the doctrines of Jesus are those calling themselves the expositors of them, who have perverted them for the structure of a system of fancy absolutely incomprehensible, and without any foundation in his genuine words. And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with all this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this the most venerated reformer of human errors."

      What Jefferson was addressing was his concern that charlatans who were perverting the Gospels for their own ends, much like the TV preachers of today, would do so much damage to the religion he cared so much about as to cause its demise. A much different message when viewed in its entirety than atheist lies and distortions would have us believe.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Reality

      And if Jefferson were alive today thereby having the Internet and many more sources of historical records agree with the following prayer?

      The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
      Jerusalem.

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
      and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      Amen

      (References used are available upon request)

      January 12, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • You are All Extremely Dumb

      Everything above is 100% incorrect. You suck at life and weight loss.

      January 12, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • Reality

      Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection Con/Disease:

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."

      http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

      The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

      Of course, we all know that angels are really mythical "pretty wingie talking thingies".

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

      p.4

      "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

      p.168. by Ted Peters:

      Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
  18. A4mrtheist

    What does it matter. Religion is a myth anyway and the bible a poor representation of history.

    January 12, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • You are All Extremely Dumb

      Really? Tell me more. Have you read it? False, you have not. That's like me saying you're dumb before I've even met you and sized up your capabilities. Except I don't have to. I know you're dumb.

      Smart people, like Jefferson, have read it, and just don't believe it, or parts of it. Or maybe they do.

      That's like saying I don't like cheesburgers but I've never even tried one. Except I have, and by the looks of it, so have you.

      January 12, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @You are All Extremely Dumb

      Are you having fun trolling this article?

      January 12, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • OG Troll

      I have invented and perfected the art of Trolling. In the idea, I know all and I am infallible. For I have invented a way to spread truth and though, by stating the wrong and senseless. For every Troll bears the Flaming Sword of Truth, to cut down the tree of DOUBT!

      January 12, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  19. Rainer Braendlein

    @Doc Vestibule

    Every historian will tell you that Hitler's speeches were, of course, expedient. He knew that plenty of Germans had still appreciation for Christianity, even when they were mere nominal Christians. Thus, he had to keep the fiction he would be a Christian. In fact he had abondoned the faith yet in his youth.

    The passage, you quoted, shows that Hitler misinterpreted the Bible totally. Jesus did not come to destroy the Jews, but to save them.

    The selling people in the Temple belonged to the class of people, which try to earn money by religion. They were on par with the Sribes, Pharisees and Judas Iscariot. This is not a specific Jewish problem or has nothing to do with the Jewish race, but every race suffers from such criminals. Hitler's conclusion was totally false. Jesus did not chase away Jews, but criminals. Assumed the Temple had been in Germany, Jesus had done the same.

    January 12, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  20. Pops

    My GOD has changed history again! Who cares about Jefferson and his fake bible made from another fake bible?
    Laws don't matter anymore!
    Follow the One True Religion and see that it is the BEST religion as well as the STRONGEST and MOST POWERFUL religion to ever exist!
    When your eyes are opened you will see! Laws do not matter especially in our New Pluralistic Theocracy! Feel Free to ignore any law!
    The Const!tution is worthless! The Supreme Court has been used to show me the sign from my GOD! Laws don't matter anymore!
    Dead people are dead! Live with the living! Ignore all those old laws and stuff! Feel free! Be Free! Act Free!

    January 12, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • Stevie Wonder

      Lawd it smellin awl stanky up in he-yuh. Pops muss-uh takin a big ole doodee in his unduhpaints.

      January 12, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • Dan

      Uh.....ok.

      January 12, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • Pops

      Dan! How good to see you agreeing with me! Welcome to the One True Religion!

      Since you did this on First Holy Day, that makes you special! Celebrate your specialness! Celebrate First Holy Day!
      It is the very First One and will never return! Go and tell your friends!

      January 12, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • Antony

      I think I'll stick with Festivus for the rest of us!

      January 12, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • Muggle92

      I really hope this is an example of Poe's law. If not, I weep for humanity.

      January 12, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Krissy

      Remember: The Bible says to obey the law of the land, & that rebels are witches.

      January 12, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
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About this blog

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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.