Monday, February 2, 2015

    Bookworm Report #6: The Jefferson Bible

    By Russell Pizer

    The Jefferson Bible
    The Life and Morales of Jesus of Nazareth

    Christians like to assert that Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, et al., founded these United States of American on Christian principles and especially the Ten Commandments.  However, those who assert such appear to discount one of Thomas Jefferson’s activities regarding The Bible.

    On 3/16/2011, this headline appeared in the Hoffington Post: “Will the Jefferson Bible Spark New Smithsonian Controversy?”  The article read, in part: “The Smithsonian recently began the painstaking restoration of one of America’s great hidden treasures: what is called the “Jefferson Bible.” Composed through a process of rigorous editing, Thomas Jefferson assembled a spare, concise book that was devoid of supernatural events from six different biblical texts. Even the crowning moment of the Christian story, the Resurrection, is completely deleted from Jefferson’s version. . . .

    “[Religious] pundits . . . would have you believe that the Founding Fathers were devout believers who saw America as a Christian nation. They point to the phrase in the Declaration of Independence,* noting that natural rights are ‘endowed by a Creator’‡ . . . 

    “[T]he Founding Fathers shared little consensus on religion.  Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine were explicit deists.  Franklin’s writings revealed ‘some doubts as to [Jesus’s] divinity' . . .”  [Presidents Jefferson and Madison were charged with being atheists.]  “Madison, the author of the Constitution and no friend to organized religion, composed a ‘Detached Memoranda’ to the Constitutional Conventions decrying religious influence as injurious to public life. . .”

    Concerning the “Ten Commandments,” Jefferson selected only six for his version of The Bible.  He included these: Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother; and Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  These are the same six that Jesus gave in Matthew 19:17-19.  Historically, it should be noted that in 787 the 7th Ecumenical Council nullified the 2nd commandment. This was done so the Roman Catholic Church could have its statues, paintings, icons and images of God, the Holy Family and all the saints.

    People who are not familiar with this effort by Jefferson will probably be mortified to learn that one of our Founding Fathers mutilated the Bible.  Jefferson literally took scissors and cut out the portions he liked and glued them together – making him perhaps the first great American Cafeteria Christian.

    NOTE:  The Jefferson Bible can be downloaded for free from the internet.  An 8½- by 11-inch version contains 33 pages.
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    * Contrary to popular belief, there is no such document in U.S. history that is titled “The Declaration of Independence.” The heading on the first broadside as printed by John Dunlap is: “A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of American in General Congress Assembled.”  The embossed official document – the hand-written version by Timothy Matlack – has the title: “The unanimous Declaration of the united States of America.”  Notice it is not the United States of America – with an upper case “U”.  And, history shows that it was not “unanimous.”

    ‡ When Thomas Jefferson submitted the hand-written version of the so-called “Declaration of Independence” to the printer – John Dunlap – the word “creator” appeared with a lower case letter “c.”  There seems to be no historical record as to who changed the word “creator” to “Creator.” It was probably some unknown typesetter in the Dunlop printing office on the night of July 4, 1776. Also note, the phrase is “endowed by their creator,” not, “endowed by the Creator.”


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