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. Esther

    One can hardly call it faith if you only include things that are easiest to justly believe. Faith is the belief in that which can not be seen, in the unknown. We all have faith every day in that the world itself will not collapse around us. Faith that the earth will continue spinning in it's rightly orchestrated place. Believing in a God that makes Himself known to all who seek Him is hardly anymore difficult.

    January 11, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Bob

      EVERY form of Christianity picks and choses which parts of the bible to emphasize and which parts to ignore – how is what Jefferson did any different? Or, maybe you intend your comment to apply to every form of Christianity as well.

      January 11, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Nonimus

      "Faith that the earth will continue spinning in it's rightly orchestrated place. Believing in a God that makes Himself known to all who seek Him is hardly anymore difficult."

      The Earth has continued spinning for my entire life, throughout recorded history, and based on scientific theories will remain do so for another 5 +/- billion years.
      God on the other hand, has never been seen, as far as I can tell, has never done anything, and has no basis in the rational world as we know it.

      January 11, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      I believe the earth will continue to spin based on past performance and physics. God has neither. I also have no faith that the world will not collapse around us. However, aside from taking care of the environment, having a solid civil society and avoiding plagues there is little else we can do about it. We happily got past the cold war without a nuclear exchange but its a big universe, anything might happen.

      January 11, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Patrick

      @ Esther
      “Faith is the belief in that which can not be seen, in the unknown” (cannot)

      Actually… faith is belief without reason.


      World English Dictionary
      faith (feɪθ)

      — n
      1. strong or unshakeable belief in something, esp without proof or evidence
      2. a specific system of religious beliefs: the Jewish faith
      3. Christianity trust in God and in his actions and promises
      4. a conviction of the truth of certain doctrines of religion, esp when this is not based on reason
      5. complete confidence or trust in a person, remedy, etc

      January 11, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • P Ness

      Problem is a christians faith is based on the Bible which is loaded with inaccuracies. If your Parents brought you up a Muslim you would have a whole different philosophy then you do now. Would that mean your Muslim faith is right and everyone elses is wrong? You would say yes if that scenario was real.

      January 12, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • David E.

      Faith is just an excuse for not wanting to know what is true.

      January 23, 2012 at 9:35 am |
  2. maeve

    Jefferson was doing what we should all do. Question, think, evaluate. That's what Jefferson did. He questioned, thought and evaluated and created a book that seemed more true to him. You have to research the way the Bible was compiled and the people in some cases who were a couple of hundred years away from when Jesus was actually on earth. You have to realize that the Bible has been translated many times and sometimes not very accurately. People (translators) in their zeal, enhanced some of the stories and changed others. Emphasizing the fact that Jefferson did this for himself. Just like the "highlighter" crowd does now when they use one sentence or a phrase to prove a point. Religion isn't something that means you just have to automatically accept whatever another imperfect human being throws at you. You need to think.

    January 11, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • ohnugget001

      Hear, hear!

      January 11, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  3. coolcanadian

    in essence, for political gains Jefferson decided to dance to the religious tune of the majority to get the presidential nod. what makes him different for politicians of today?

    January 11, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Nonimus

      No se.xting?

      January 11, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • daytripper


      January 11, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  4. daytripper

    ...If you read history, you will understand that Jefferson and all the founding fathers were Masons – a belief system going back thru the Templars and to early Christianity when the teachings of Jesus were in their purest form, before they were corrupted and changed (by men) in order to control their followers and maintain a wealthy power-base form which to operate (all in the name of God, of course) – this includes the popes (who always came from wealthy families...who wanted to keep their wealth and power). If you read about all protestant religions, you will understand that this was also their premise, to keep Jesus's teachings in their purest form and original context and intent, and that you don't need a 'priest' to talk to God or 'forgive' you, you can do it hourself. (Think about it...) ....It's history.

    January 11, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • thePapist0000001

      You are one of the most misinformed, and ignorant people I have ever read on these comment boards. Like Jefferson you should keep your rubbish to yourself.

      January 11, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Ben Frankly

      Stop reading pulp fiction.

      January 11, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • MJBillings

      Don't pay any attention to those naysayers who put your remarks down. THEY are the ignorant ones. You misbobbled your last sentence. Otherwise your piece reads in a total protestant frame of reference. Thank you.

      January 11, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  5. Voice of Reason

    Isn't that what most religions do today? Take parts of the holy script the like and ignore the rest. The only difference is he made his own compilation of teachings (or Bible) for convenience. Trying to adhere to all the standards would be too inconvenient or unprofitable for them.

    January 11, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  6. Rainer Braendlein

    Bonhoeffer regarding miracles:

    I am the Lord, your Physician!

    In the middle of the merry nature we see, how a paralyzed child is driven in a wheelchair. Somebody, who still has a heart, which is not insensible to his neighbour, he will realize in that moment that something is wrong with our world, that the world, in which such a torture and sadness is possible, cannot be the genuine creation of God. Something anti-divine must have befallen the world. The world has apostated from her genesis. Destroying powers have seized rule in this world.

    Only in a world having become godless, there is malady. Because the world suffers from God, therefore there are sick people. Solely a world, which would be secure in God, a delivered world, would be without any malady. In the Bible we encounter a strange sentence: “12 And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease [was] exceeding [great]: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians.” (2. Chron. 16, 12). It is about a devout man there, which the Bible else gives high praise for his zeal, regarding God’s matter. But this man, despite his devoutness, thought very modern, so that he strictly distinguished between matters of religion, in which someone calls on God, and the earthly matters, in which someone asks for help at earthly bodies. Diseases, particularly physical diseases are earthly matters with earthly causes and earthly cures. Consequently diseases are matters of physicians, but not of God. How could someone be allowed to bother God, the Lord of the world, with his small physical maladies? God has other concerns.

    That is thought pretty reasonable and maybe even religious. But it is wrong. Surely, diseases have their earthly causes and earthly cures. But with that is stated not at all everything and not the crucial thing about the essence of disease. For sure, the invalid shall call on a physician. But the most important thing is not done solely with that, and is not realized. Behind the earthly causes and cures there are supernatural causes and supernatural cures of the disease. As long as someone passes by thereon, someone lives, ignoring his disease, and doesn’t realize its essence. Its blessing or curse remain unrecognized.

    The disease belongs to God in a special way. The Bible doesn’t blame a man for calling on a physician, when he is sick, but for not calling also on God. Not by chance, Christ lived noticeably close by the invalids, not by chance, blind man, paralytics, deaf-mutes, lepers, lunatics were irresistibly attracted by him and seeked his community. Why didn’t Christ send them to the physician? Surely not, in order to damage the reputation of the physicians or to present his own skills and suggestiv powers, but in order to make clear that God and malady and that Christ and invalids belong strongly together.

    Christ wants to be the real physician of the invalids. “I am the Lord, your physician!” (Exodus 15, 26). God says that, Christ says that. The Creator and Deliverer of the world wants to be the physician of the invalid. Do we want to spurn this offer, after we have accepted so many less offers with more or less success?

    One, who merely intuits the connection between God and malady, one, who takes serious the unexpected offer, can get a pointer to the sin of the human beings, to the destruction of the community of the creatures with their Creator.

    Here are the supernatural reasons and abysses of the malady. It is the sin of the world and it is my personal sin, I get reminded. My disease doesn’t have to be the consequence of or the punishment for a certain sin, which I had to accuse myself of, that may happen, but it is not necessaryly the case. Yet every disease will let me look into the depth of the sin of the world and the depth of my personal godlessness. This look drives me to God. When I looked into the abyss (of my sin), I don’t first ask for redemption of this or that malady, but I will confess my longly hidden guilt in the face of God. The physical malady wants to show me that my actual malady goes much deeper, so deep that no earthly physician can cure it, because my actual disease is my sin. Not merely my body, my nerves, my temper is sick, but my whole essence, my heart is sick, sick by disbelieve, by fear, by the godlessness of my life. And which healthy man doesn’t suffer from that furtive and at the same time eerie disease?

    Now I know that I can be helped, if my whole essence becomes healthy, safe and new. How can that happen? The answer is very simple and yet touches the ultimate depth of our life: by true private confession and by divine forgiveness of all my sins. That may seem to be a strange turn and solution of this question for some people, but yet only for someone, who has not yet experienced the cure of the whole man by confession and forgiveness. What is confession? To open up oneself with all one’s sins, weaknesses, vices, maladies to Jesus Christ and to give him the whole heart without any reservation, according to his command. That is not easy and may seem to us harder than a dangerous surgery. Normally, the most of us will need a fraternal helper for that, who assists us at confession, may it be the pastor holding an ecclesiastical office, may it be any member of the congregation, who knows more about Christ than I. What is forgiveness? Extinction of all my whole hopeless, messy, failed past (of which maybe only I know) by God’s decree and by the present of a new and happy beginning of my life.

    Who can give me such a new beginning? Nobody else than solely the crucified and living Jesus Christ, who himself experienced the hopelessness of life on himself and overcame it in the communion of God. He is the sole physician, who knows my deepest malady, who himself has beared it. He is the saviour, who can cure heart, soul and body.

    How is forgivness of sins connected with physical cure? More than the most people intuit. Of course it is a mysterious connection. But isn’t it at least so much comprehensible, that a man, who got again a happy and released heart, will get rid of some physical complaint? The body often becomes ill, because it is not ruled, because it has become its own Lord. But now the body has get again his right Lord, who rules it. The body is no longer the Lord. It is only tool, even more than that, it has become “temple of the Holy Spirit”. There are many maladies, which are not visibly subdued and eradicated by the assurance of forgiveness. But the hidden connection of received forgiveness and physical cure can become visible in such a way that medical limits are bursted, and the physicians face a mystery. One is sure: The faith is a source for cure like the disbelief is a source for destruction and sickness of the body and the soul.

    When Christ calls himself the physician of the invalid, then the divine mercy shines upon every invalid. The sick one belongs to God. At him God wants to materialize his salvation. In the ill brother we encounter God’s mercy, who is the physician of the invalid in Jesus Christ. The sick man wants cure, but Christ gives him more: Salvation.

    Originator of the above sermon: Dr. Dietrich Bonhoeffer (in my eyes, he is a king)

    January 11, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Ben Frankly

      Your posting is too long for this forum. No one is reading it.

      January 11, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Jim in Georgia

      I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35: 2. clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

      January 11, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Elspeth

      Jim in Georgia – Stealing from Aaron Sorkin is wrong!

      January 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Regis990

      So, a man of faith says a bunch of stuff about his faith and we are supposed to jump on board...because he said it? Well, I have strong beliefs to. EVERY TUESDAY SHOULD BE FREE TACO DAY! There, I am a man of faith, I believe strongly in my statement...therefore, join me. Wow, being a religious nutjob is fun!

      January 11, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • David E.

      You and Dr. DB are insane. Keep your magic faerie in the sky, you want answers and healing, turn to science.

      January 23, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  7. Founding Religions?

    You all seem to know your stuff. A guy I know tried to convince me that some of the foundnig fathers were Muslim, but I've never heard that nor have I ever found any evidence. He even searched the Library of Congress for a copy of Washington's Koran to no avail. Do any of you know if there is any truth to his assertion?

    January 11, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Little known fact. They were actually Hare Krishna and used to hang around the sea ports handing out pamphlets.

      January 11, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Patrick

      That's completely wrong, but was probably born out of the truth that Jefferson did own and studied the Quran in order to better understand the thinking of the Muslim rulers of North Africa and how they would respond to the military intervention of the Navy and Marines to subdue pirates along the Barbary Coast. He used this knowledge as a diplomatic tool which prevented their perception of the US as another European crusader during the invasion of Tripoli.

      January 11, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Jeff Williams

      """was probably born out of the truth that Jefferson did own and studied the Quran in order to better understand the thinking of the Muslim rulers of North Africa"""

      Exactly. Know thine enemy.

      January 11, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  8. ODA155

    hmmm... let's see... maybe the names of all of the children he fathered with the slaves he "hooked up" with.

    January 11, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  9. Nelson Rose

    The reason Christians created their religion is because it is easier to fallback on the salvation promise of John 3:13 then to actually try to live a moral and decent life.

    The tea party needs a reality check. If Jefferson were alive today he'd be making fun of them.

    – Nelson

    January 11, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • maher

      john 3:16 not 13. it seems that you are commenting on something you yourself have never read; which is sually the case of those who criticise the bible and the christians. God bless you anyways.

      January 11, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Love is Greatest

      Wow. I read that and it makes me sad that one could be so confused. Everyone needs God to be of Moral value, because no one is good. Not one. Just as the Bible says. No matter what you try to do, you will still think evil thoughts, lust, be prideful, it is in your nature to be so. Man didn't create God, God created Man. All know this, only few will admit it. Those who admit it, won't be surprised when they meet the Creator himself. I pray that everyone on this panel searches inside. Let's go of their ego, and lives out of love. If you search for the truth, and let love lead you, not your mind, and you read the Bible from that stance. You won't have any challenge seeing the authenticity in the message.

      January 11, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • The Guy

      @ Love is Greatest, stop referencing the bible as a credible source to people who know it is not credible. You may as well site Archy comics since they hold as much weight.

      January 11, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Jim in Georgia

      @ Love is Greatest, Leviticus 25: 44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify?Why can't I own Canadians?

      January 11, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Elspeth

      Jim in Georgia – OK, that's better. Aaron Sorkin never used that line, that I can recall, in any show

      January 11, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  10. Reality

    Some more words of wisdom from a wise man:

    He 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 11, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  11. rockysfan

    I doubt it would have been as controversial as the author would lead us to believe. Most people of the world during that time did not believe in God let alone Christ. Christians (and I use that term VERY loosely) simply must get over themselves. This is NOT a Christian country but a true melting pot. The sooner chrisitans get this picture, the better off this country will be.

    January 11, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • glyder

      we have been doing that for decades.notice the improvement?

      January 11, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  12. liz48

    Thank you for a great article. I am from another nation where I, through conviction, became a follow of the Jesus of the Bible. We saw miracles and the demonstration of the Truth of God's Word that He has not changed. My own nephew was healed of a condition that doctors had no answers for.

    I now understand the dead religion of the the so called "church" in the US and in the west. It is based on a moral code that glorifies ethics and man's reasoning above the belief in God. The sin of Adam was rebellion where he told God that he will do as he pleases – Jesus came to set us free of that rebellion. The choice is ours if we want to still live as Adam and glorify man's wisdom...

    I was never attracted to the obsession with the founding fathers, especially when I viewed the lives of the far right who claimed it was of God...Jesus said you will know His followers from their fruits (lives) – Matthew 7

    January 11, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Clarify

      Huge Amen!! I live in America and it is morally bankrupt. I don't blame the many unbelievers out there who look at American Chr istians in disgust. I don't know many who are truly followers of Chr ist.

      January 11, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • coolcanadian

      God bless you liz48. those who claim to know Christ were busy peddling slaves in their backyards. for those who seek after the Truth, they will know the Truth and it will set them free.

      January 11, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • max

      according to my bible god wanted to keep up ignorant as animals. it was the snake that offered us knowledge.

      if "we" has followed the "word of god" we would all be living in the woods, running naked and eating berries.

      some people may think of that as a good thing. ill stick with the snake on this....

      January 13, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • David E.

      Pure bovine scatology, just like the bible.

      January 23, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  13. halavana

    this has been known for a very long time. lots of people and organizations have chopped up and rewritten the Bible as they saw fit. why should Jefferson be any different?

    January 11, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  14. HeHasRizen

    America you're blind. Repent as the time is near for our Lord to come back and get us off this hell planet. He is on his way people please repent. I have seen the demons in Hell and let me tell you they are not something you want to be around. I screamed and tried to fight for my life and the lord gave it back. Now Jesus is in my heart 24/7 and has done nothing but bless me and my family. I will pray for you all as I usually do. He is coming repent while you still have a chance.

    January 11, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • HellBent

      Extortion really isn't a very effective evangelism tool

      January 11, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Jeff

      Please tell us about the time you "saw" the "demons" in "hell"

      January 11, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • benji

      I Totally agree!

      January 11, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.”
      —1 John 2:18
      Christians have been waiting on tenterhooks for the Second Coming since the Bible itself was written.
      Many have prophesied the exact time of date of His return and ALL have been wrong.
      George Rapp said it would be September 15th, 1829.
      William Miller predicted October 22, 1844. Jesus’ failure to arrive is known as “The Great Disappointment”. Many of his disillusioned followers went on the found the 7th Day Adventist Church, who are still patiently awaiting His return.
      Charles Russell, 1st President of the Watchtower Society told his fellow Jehovah’s Witnesses that Jesus would be back in 1874.
      Rudolf Steiner maintained that from 1930 onwards, Jesus would grant certain people psychic powers to enable them to witness his presence in the “etheric plane”.
      Herbert Armstrong, Pastor General of the Worldwide Church of God said 1975.
      Bill Maupin managed to convince his followers to sell all of their worldly goods in preparation for Jesus’ return on June 28th, 1981.
      Benjamin Crème stated that on June 21st, 1982 Christ would make a worldwide television announcement.
      Mark Blitz, Pastor of El Shaddai Ministries says it would be September 30th, 2008
      Jerry Falwell said it’d happen between 1999 and 2009.
      Harold Camping is telling everyone that the Rapture will happen May 21, 2011 after failing in his first predicted date of 1994.

      Conversely, many believe He’s all ready come in the form of Sun Myung Moon, Emanuel Swedenborg, Baha u llah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, David Koresh, Hailie Selassie, John Thom, Arnold Potter, William Davies, George roux, Ernest Norman, Krishna Venta, Ahn Sahng-Hong, Jim Jones, Mashall Applewhite, Hulon Mitchell, Wayne Bent, Ariffin Mohammed, Mitsuo Matayoshi, Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda, Inri Cristo, Thomas Provenzano, David Icke, Shoko Asahara, Hogan Fukinaga, Marina Tsvigun or Sergei Troop.

      It would appear that the much lauded Jewish carpenter has been thoroughly dead for 2000 years and will remain so.

      January 11, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • HeHasRizen

      @jeff I was dead for a few minutes when I was being dragged and tormented by demons. I still remember it like it was yesterday. I can't explain them as they are nothing we have ever seen before. It was horrifying and I never want to see them again. "This is not something I would make up. I'm 29 I did the party life alochol and drugs and no more will I do them. Our country is ran by a lot of demons and Satan himself (obama). Time to wake up people. You are ignoring the signs God gave us.

      January 11, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Regis990

      The bible was written by men for the sole purpose of control over men.

      January 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Empiricus

      @Doc Vestibule : You forgot to add my name to those in whose form it is believed Christ has returned. I have, in fact, returned....and I am P1SSED OFF that football season is almost over. I did NOT come back here to watch TENNIS!

      January 11, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
  15. blogwriter

    What I get from this article is that Thomas Jefferson was a moral man or at least tried to be as demonstrated by his study of morality. A quality that is noticeably lacking in our politician's today. Perhaps politician's need to pass a morality test before being allowed to run for office!

    January 11, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • liz48

      Morality without God will not work...morality for one is very subjective. I read an excellent book that argued that murdering your political opponents for the greater good is moral, as it ensures a better life for others. The issue is that no one gives you the standard by which to judge the greater good...

      My nation had many moral people who did not believe in the God of the Bible but by culture were more respectful of marriage and family values – I saw the death and destruction and lack of hope in these people who were lost when hit with a fatal illness or crisis...

      I followed Jesus and understood His defeat of the works of satan and the perfect freedom He had obtained for man, if man would believe – John 8:32, John 16:33...I did not follow a church or denomination but sought Him just as I would seek to talk to a good friend, and He taught me and showed me the Truth of His Word. All this is in the Bible – He promises that He will write the laws of God in our hearts and that He will be our Teacher – Matthew 23:8-10. Hebrews 10:16-17.

      January 11, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • midwstrngrl

      who says the morality in the bible came from God? Wouldn't that still be an interpretation of man? lol

      January 11, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Jeff Williams

      """Morality without God will not work"""


      January 11, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  16. Clarify

    Poor man must have been pretty long in the tooth to have personally witnessed the work of Chr ist and written what actually occurred at the time.

    January 11, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      Considering it is the word of man he is rewriting, I'd say this has nothing to do with christ.

      January 11, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The Bible has multiple examples of people living to be 1,000 years old.
      Maybe Jefferson was one of them.

      January 11, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Clarify

      That was a funny one, Doc:) Good sense of humor!

      January 11, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Brian

      None of the Gospels were written as first hand accounts. All were written long after the death of Jesus and based on the oral tradition of the time. I think we all miss the point when we try to understand the Bible as history.

      January 11, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  17. Leaf on the Wind

    It's too bad the Jefferson Bible hasn't been more well-known and well-read these past couple of hundred years. Just think, we could actually have a candidate for public office who could admit to being atheist, and not pandering to the religious right. Wouldn't that be refreshing?

    And aren't the fundamentalist Christian Americans going to be very disappointed in this, since they so often proclaim that our founding fathers were all Christians like themselves. They may have to actually face the fact that this country was founded on secular principles.

    January 11, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • anne


      January 11, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  18. John Robertson

    A man of uncommon sense.. Too bad it wasn't published..

    January 11, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  19. WelcomedOpinion

    Live as Christ lived. Would you be better off or worse?

    Healed the sick, raised the dead, gave sight to the blind, set captives free, forgave sins, died on a cross, rose on the 3rd day, and now sits at the FATHER's right hand, will come back to judge the living and the dead, and will reign forever more.

    Let me know when you live a perfect sinless life, we will follow your teachings..

    For now, we will stick with the BIBLE. Not athiest opinion.

    January 11, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Replace Christ with Gilgamesh.
      Or Horus.
      Or dionysus.
      Or Angus, Belenos, Brigid, dana, Lugh, Dagda, Epona, Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Artemis, Atehna, Demeter, Dionysus, Eris, Eos, Gaia, Hades, Hekate, Helios, Hephaestus, Hera, hermes, Hestia, Pan, Poseidon, Selene, Uranus, Zeus, Mathilde, Elves, Eostre, Frigg, Hretha, Saxnot, Shef, Thuno, Tir, Weyland, Woden, Alfar, Balder, Beyla, Bil, Bragi, Byggvir, Dagr, Disir, Eir, Forseti, Freya, Freyr, Frigga, Heimdall, Hel, Hoenir, Idunn, Jord, Lofn, Loki, Mon, Njord, Norns, Nott, Odin, Ran, saga, Sif, Siofn, Skadi, Snotra, Sol, Syn, Ull, Thor, Tyr, Var, Vali, Vidar, Vor, Black Shuck, Herne, Jack in the Green, Holda, Nehalennia, Nerthus, endovelicus, Ataegina, Runesocesius, Apollo, Bacchus, Ceres, Cupid, Diana, Janus, Juno, Jupiter, Maia, Mars, Mercury, Minerva, Neptune, Pluto, Plutus, Proserpina, Venus, Vesta, Vulcan, Attis, Cybele, El-Gabal, Isis, Mithras, Sol Invictus, Endovelicus, Anubis, Aten, Atum, Bast, Bes, Geb, Hapi, Hathor, Heget, Horus, Imhotep, Isis, Khepry, Khnum, Maahes, Ma’at, Menhit, Mont, Naunet, Neith, Nephthys, Nut, Osiris, Ptah, ra, Sekhmnet, Sobek, Set, Tefnut, Thoth, An, Anshar, Anu, Apsu, Ashur, Damkina, Ea, Enki, Enlil, Ereshkigal, Nunurta, Hadad, Inanna, Ishtar, Kingu, Kishar, Marduk, Mummu, Nabu, Nammu, Nanna, Nergal, Ninhursag, Ninlil, Nintu, Shamash, Sin, Tiamat, Utu, Mitra, Amaterasu, Susanoo, Tsukiyomi, Inari, Tengu, Izanami, Izanagi, Daikoku, Ebisu, Benzaiten, Bishamonten, Fu.kurokuju, Jurojin, Hotei, Quetzalcoatl, Tlaloc, Inti, Kon, Mama Cocha, Mama Quilla, Manco Capac, Pachacamac, Viracoc.ha, or Zaramama.

      Your God is but one of many.

      January 11, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Doc: Wow, WlecomedOpinion is just a tad bit delusional...don't ya think? Seems like another poster child for APA!

      January 11, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Aaron

      So where was Christ for like 20 years of his life not in the bible...Maybe being human?

      January 11, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • WelcomedOpinion


      please stop, stop, stop.... My sides are klling me. I can't stop laughing at your reply.

      You only proved my point. Thanks.

      You are worse off. Sad day for you.

      January 11, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • MarkinFL


      January 11, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • hawkechik

      So you're saying Jefferson was an atheist, then?

      January 11, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Jeff

      "Healed the sick, raised the dead, gave sight to the blind, set captives free, forgave sins, died on a cross, rose on the 3rd day, and now sits at the FATHER's right hand, will come back to judge the living and the dead, and will reign forever more."

      Question: How do you know that?
      Note: responding with something to the effect of " I read it in a very old book" makes a mockery of the word "know"

      January 11, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      Live as Christ lived. Would you be better off or worse?

      >>Care to tell us where your divine knowledge of how a fictional character lived comes from? To be honest history has proven we are worse off for following it.

      Healed the sick, raised the dead, gave sight to the blind, set captives free, forgave sins, died on a cross, rose on the 3rd day, and now sits at the FATHER's right hand, will come back to judge the living and the dead, and will reign forever more.

      >>Proof please?

      Let me know when you live a perfect sinless life, we will follow your teachings..

      >>Sin only exists in the buybull, not in every day language and thus has no meaning. Everyone makes mistakes.

      For now, we will stick with the BIBLE. Not athiest opinion.

      >>So you like fairy tales and fore go reality? You need medical help for those mental delusions you are suffering from! Atheist opinion is based in reality...the buybull not so much!

      January 11, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      To Aaron: Rehab.

      To WelcomedOpinion. May as well follow the example of any other fictional perfect person. How about just live by the golden rule?

      January 11, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Dats right

      You are a fracking idiot. You didn't even read the article.

      January 11, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • TruthPrevails


      Live as Christ lived. Would you be better off or worse?

      >>>Care to tell us where your divine knowledge of how a fictional character lived comes from? To be honest history has proven we are worse off for following it.

      Healed the sick, raised the dead, gave sight to the blind, set captives free, forgave sins, died on a cross, rose on the 3rd day, and now sits at the FATHER's right hand, will come back to judge the living and the dead, and will reign forever more.

      >>>Proof please? We've been waiting for a very long time for this character to return as you christards keep foolishly thinking he will and every time you say you look like bigger freaks.

      Let me know when you live a perfect sinless life, we will follow your teachings..

      >>Sin only exists in the buybull, not in every day language and thus has no meaning. Everyone makes mistakes.

      For now, we will stick with the BIBLE. Not athiest opinion.

      >>So you like fairy tales and fore go reality? You need medical help for those mental delusions you are suffering from! Atheist opinion is based in reality...the buybull not so much!

      January 11, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • The Guy

      Disillusion is christianity's greatest weapon.

      January 11, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • HeHasRizen

      @jeff and Doc I urged you to read Matthew chapter 24 written by God. Why do you think this is a joke? You both live a life with stress and worries. I'm 29 married with a kid and another on the way and I fear nothing because my life is in the lords hands. You guys just complain everyday and whine. Is that a good life?

      January 11, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Jeff

      @HeIsRizen. I prefer reality.

      January 11, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • Regis990

      I love Xtians...when you question their faith, their holy book, etc...they freak out and tell you "It was written by God, so it is the truth." Yet, when a different religion(s) comes along and say the same things...it can't be true. Why? Well, because their book says so...that's why. Classic.

      January 11, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  20. TopGunViper88

    Any article on the topic of "religion" always brings out the best comments... They are usually better than the article itself... LOL

    January 11, 2012 at 1:27 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.