Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Second Look at The Jefferson Bible

The Jefferson Bible is the common name for a piece of work our 3rd President compiled and edited. What is unique about this work is that it was wholly created by Jefferson literally taking a knife and cutting out passages from one of his bibles. It is limited to the 4 traditional "Gospels". What Jefferson did was to remove any "mythology" from the Jesus story. Any miraculous or Virgin Birth, no angels, no miracles and (most important to Jefferson) no claims to deity. What was left was a collection of the words, teaching and parables of Jesus.

Jefferson did not do this because he was anti-Jesus. In fact his work and Jefferson himself were very positive about Christ. Instead, he felt Jesus had been co-opted or hijacked from its original intent. In Jefferson's mind he was restoring Jesus and Jesus's original message. Jefferson was very anti-clergy or anti-religious. He felt that many/much of the teachings of Christianity were not inherited from Jesus himslef and many not even in the Bible.
What Jefferson was intending was to remove the "hocus pocus" or magical ingredients and expose the teachings of Jesus to reason and rational thought.
What is sad, and yet understated, is when we do this-not only are we more aware of Christ's expectations, but we also see how different his words were from the beliefs of his followers.
As Gandhi said: "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. They are nothing like your Christ."

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