More than two hundred years ago, Thomas Jefferson began to carve away at the King James Bible with a razor—an action considered by many to be blasphemous—out of a desire to produce a direct narrative of the life of Jesus of Nazareth free of claims of divinity or miraculous events. Jefferson believed that the words of Jesus were “the most benevolent code of morals ever been offered to man” and wished to study his teachings
at a remove from the rest of the Gospels.
The work he produced, The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, has since come to be known as The Jefferson Bible.
Far too controversial to be published during Jefferson’s lifetime, The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth was reprinted by an act of Congress in 1904. For over fifty years all freshman congressmen were given a copy when they took their oath of office.
THOMAS JEFFERSON (1743-1826) was an American Founding Father, principal architect of the Declaration of Independence, and third President of the United States. He was a polymath who spoke five languages and was deeply interested in science, invention, architecture, religion and philosophy. The words inscribed on the Jefferson Memorial: “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” speak volumes about this extraordinary man’s legacy.