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Jefferson Bible - Smithsonian Museum of American History - 2012-05-15

Published edition of the Jefferson Bible.


Thomas Jefferson was a deist, a person who did not believe in miracles or the supernatural and who questioned the deity of Jesus Christ. Deists also believed that God designed and built the universe, but then stepped back and let it run on its own without any intervention. Many American deists of the late 1700s and early 1800s also were highly sceptical of organized religion, arguing that Christianity had been "tainted" by others.


In 1789, Jefferson conceived of a plan to root out the "basic" teachings of Jesus in the Bible and present them, thematically and logically, in a new format. In 1804, he published the first version of his "Jefferson Bible". He carefully cut the sayings of Jesus out of existing Bibles, ordered them thematically, and placed the themes in order (fundamentals first).


The 1804 "Jefferson Bible" contained no references to angels, miracles, the deity of Jesus, the resurrection, or prophecy. Jefferson expressed dissatisfaction with this version, and in 1813 produced a second edition that contained references to Noah's ark, the Second Coming, heaven, hell, and the devil.


The Smithsonian obtained the originals in 1895, and immediately published an edition. It was wildly popular among members of Congress for several decades.


On display at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

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Taken on May 15, 2012