.......Thomas Jefferson was editing the Bible, a book regarded by most of his fellow Americans as the word of God. The act was certainly presumptuous, perhaps blasphemous. But Jefferson found the task simple. The worthy parts of the Bible were easily distinguishable from the worthless—“as distinguishable,” he later wrote in a letter to John Adams, “as diamonds in a dunghill.”
Using the passages he sliced out of his Bibles, Jefferson created a new book, which he called, “The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth.” He had it bound but he never published it, and he told only a handful of close friends about it. His copy—the only copy that ever existed—later disappeared and is now lost to history.
But sixteen years later, he created another. In 1820, retired from politics and living at Monticello, Jefferson sat down again, at the age of seventy-seven, to edit the Bible. He purchased six Bibles—two in English, two in French, and two containing both Latin and Greek—and cut them up, creating a second edited version of the New Testament, in four languages.
In this book, he kept the words of Jesus and some of his deeds, but left out the miracles and any suggestion that Jesus is God
. The virgin birth is gone
. So is Jesus walking on water
, multiplying the loaves and fishes, and raising Lazarus from the dead. Jefferson’s version ends with Jesus’ burial on Good Friday. There is no resurrection
, no Easter Sunday
. Jefferson called this version “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.”