The Thomas Jefferson Bible – What is it?

Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States and primary author of The Declaration of Independence, completed his version of the Bible in about 1819—many years after he served as president.

What Jefferson did is pick and choose the parts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John he liked or agreed with, cut them out of the Gospels, then pasted them into a new document in the order he thought best. So it's more of an attempt at a harmony of the Gospels than it is a Bible.

Jefferson did not believe in the supernatural, so he removed nearly all the miracles Jesus performed. He also removed any reference to Jesus being divine and to the resurrection. He did, oddly, keep some references to angels, heaven, hell, and eternal life.

Really, it's not much different than the modern-day, so-called cafeteria Christians who pick and choose what portions of the Bible to adopt and what parts to dismiss.

Somehow Jefferson believe himself to be some authority about the true nature and life of Jesus. Jefferson reduced Jesus to a philosopher and moral teacher. Many today make the same error. People want to grasp the parts of Jesus they can accept and understand, and eliminate the parts of His life they can't quite comprehend or embrace. That, of course, makes them a higher authority than God.

It's the original temptation. Remember what the Enemy told Eve and Adam in the garden. He told them they could be like God if they disobeyed Him; that they would know what He knows, that they would be equal to God.

Jesus' moral teachings and philosophical outlook were backed up, or upheld, by His miracles. Peter told those gathered who witnessed Pentecost: "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know" (Acts 2:22). Jesus' resurrection is central to saving faith (1 Corinthians 15:3–7, 12–28).

Jesus' ability to do things only God can do created the foundation, or gave the stamp of authority, to His teachings. Without His miracles, and especially His resurrection, Jesus' teachings would not hold much value. Many people can create a good framework for living, make a list of rules, build a boundary of morals. But very few can even live by their own standards, much less give their ideas authority by performing miracles that defy natural laws and physics as Jesus did.

C.S. Lewis warned about this error: "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept his claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to" (Mere Christianity, pp. 51–52).


Related Truth:

Are Bible miracles literal events?

Why should I believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ?

Why is the reality of the bodily resurrection of Jesus so central to the Christian faith?

Should the Bible be interpreted literally?

Who is Jesus Christ?


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