Jefferson’s Bible

Thomas Jefferson was a scholar as well as a founding father of this country. While he never identified himself as a Evangelical Christian he did consider himself a follower of the one whom he said the world continues to crucify. Details about his own cut and paste Bible are difficult to come by. Chapter six of The Bible and Bibles in America gives about as good a summary as can be found of Jefferson’s book, which was titled The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. It was never published in his own lifetime. It was not until Congress published it in 1904 that it became generally available. Though Jefferson is often labelled a Deist, he called himself a Christian saying in a letter to Benjamin Rush, “I am a Christian, in the only sense he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; and believing he never claimed any other.” In saying this he affirmed Jesus’ manhood, but of course denied his deity. He was most certainly Unitarian rather than Trinitarian. His version of the Gospels includes all that he thought was the best in Jesus’ moral teachings, but the miracles and anything that seemed to imply his deity are missing.