Sun 24 Jun 2012
Thomas Jefferson prepared his own “New Testament” bible by pasting the words and story of Jesus Christ of Nazareth by razor cutting from a King James Bible and his personal translations from Greek. The “Jefferson Bible” is a chronological amalgam of the four New Testament books. His first attempt to extract the philosophy in a less successful work The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth which he edited in 1804. It appears that this first forty three page pasted book does not survive.
In the winter of 1816-1817 he produced a handsome morocco-bound volume, labeled on the back, `Morals of Jesus,’ which contained parallel texts in four languages. This book is held by the National Museum, and 9000 copies were produced for the Congress. Jefferson kept the book a secret from the public during his lifetime, but reportedly read from it each night before retiring.
Jefferson said his task was:
“… extracting the pure principles which he taught, we should have to strip off the artificial vestments in which they have been muffled by priests, who have travestied them into various forms, as instruments of riches and power to themselves. We must dismiss the Platonists and Plotinists, the Stagyrites and Gamalielites, the Eclectics, the Gnostics and Scholastics, their essences and emanations, their logos and demiurges, aeons and daemons, male and female, with a long train of … or, shall I say at once, of nonsense.”
The original bound manuscript is held by the US National Museum in Washington, The actual manuscript has been scanned and can be viewed online, with the Greek and Roman next to the English King James excerpt. Its age and old fashoned printing make this great as a reference, but hard to use to just read.