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The Jefferson Bible, Smithsonian Edition: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth Hardcover – November 1, 2011
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LIBRARY JOURNAL, Starred Review
This is a painstakingly produced full-color facsimile of the original volume that Jefferson created, now at the Smithsonian, where it received top-level conservation treatment prior to its high-resolution reproduction here. Jefferson created his version of the New Testament by cutting and pasting from Greek, Latin, French, and English printed texts of the Gospels, which he placed in four parallel columns and accompanied with his marginal notes. This edition also contains two essays: "The History of the Jefferson Bible," in which curators at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History explain Jefferson's intent and his methods, and an essay on the volume's extensive conservation. The passages that Jefferson selected and pasted together present a much-edited, single chronological account of Jesus's life, teachings, and death—ending with Jesus's burial and avoiding redundancies. The passages are those that Jefferson deemed to be supportable by reason. The "History" essay draws parallels between the way Jefferson revised Virginia's laws and the way he revised the Bible. VERDICT Jefferson's Bible has been published before, but never in full facsimile with all its contents. With great cultural importance for all readers from preteens through scholars in American studies, biblical studies, or the Enlightenment, as well as general readers. Also a handsome gift.—Carolyn M. Craft, formerly with Longwood Univ., Farmville, VA
The most famous single book in America was recently taken apart and put back together to retard its further deterioration. In the process, it was digitally photographed cover to cover, which is why this edition exists. Better than those based on normal photography, this full-color reproduction of The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth Extracted Textually from the Gospels in Greek, Latin, French & English, as its compiler, Thomas Jefferson, calls it on the handwritten title page, shows what it really looks like. As the three authors of the accompanying essays on the history and the conservation of the DIY parallel-text edition concur, its tidiness is a tribute to the third president’s steady hand and keen eye at age 77. Intellectually, it embodies his rationalist respect for Christianity as a moral system, not a religion. Excluding everything miraculous in the Gospels, thereby sifting, Jefferson said, “diamonds” from “a dunghill,” it establishes that one Founding Father, at least, was not a biblical inerrantist. A lovely addition to thoroughgoing Americana collections.— Ray Olson
In 1820, former president Thomas Jefferson completed The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. Popularly known as "Jefferson's Bible," it comprises 82 pages, each with the Greek, Latin, French, and English texts of the New Testament passages that Jefferson viewed as authentic purveyors of Jesus's life and ethical teachings. Jefferson literally cut and pasted this material onto blank sheets of paper. Casting out all passages that were, in his opinion, contrary to reason, he ended up with the one form of religion in which he believed. The largest part of this 2011 book is an exquisitely reproduced full-color facsimile of this older work--the result of painstaking efforts by conservators at the Smithsonian and elsewhere, described in considerable detail in a chapter titled "Conservation." A preceding chapter, "History of the Jefferson Bible," puts this work within the context of Jefferson's life and the lives of contemporaries such as Benjamin Rush, Thomas Paine, and Joseph Priestley. Everything in this volume shows great care and erudition, and it deserves a place in almost every library. Nonetheless, readers might wish that more attention had been paid to the overall teachings of Jefferson's Bible and their influence on subsequent generations upto today. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through researchers/faculty; general readers. --L. J. Greenspoon, Creighton University
About the Author
THOMAS JEFFERSON, third president of the United States, most wanted to be remembered as the author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and father of the University of Virginia. The author lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Top customer reviews
Unlike some in previous reviews, the source of printing did not bother me--it is the ideas presented that are the important work. I found the book to be sturdy and well printed. The introductory sections on the history of the book and the conservation efforts undertaken were interesting (to me) and worked well with an online course I was taking at the time of acquisition.
The introductory remarks followed by a thorough reading of the abridged bible, give a unique look into Jefferson's very private and almost unshared views on his religious beliefs. This was a worthwhile purchase.
Disclaimer: it is (apparently) the same physical size as TJ's original but I find the reproduced type very small for these older eyes. Needs to be read with a good light over the shoulder. While I do not really want a large print edition, one or two points of type size would have made this a "5".
A worthy read both from a spiritual and historical viewpoint.
If you just want to know about Jefferson's Bible, there are less expensive options that should satisfy your interest.
This is a magnificent facsimile edition of "The Jefferson Bible." Scholar, chuch-goer, believer, non-believer, layman .. this book is amazing and belongs on your shelf. The actual Jefferson Bible was disassembled and the pages photographed with a Hasselblad H4D-50, a 50 megapixel DSLR and a Zeiss 120mm macro lens. In other words, the actual pages were photographed at extremely high resolution and sharpness and have been reprinted in this volume. You will hold, in your hands, the closest replication of "The Jefferson Bible" yet produced.
Now, there is a "History of the Jefferson Bible" where the curators give their opinion as to what Jefferson meant in assembling his Bible. I could do without that. There is enough material out there that we can read to form our own opinions of Jefferson and what his religious beliefs were or were not. Let's not get into that debate.
Aside from that, there is also a section on the restoration of the Jefferson Bible which is interesting.
Then you have the actual Jefferson Bible itself. I was literally stunned at the highly detailed the replication. Even more stunning is the price: $19 here on Amazon. I bought two.
Some have a beef with it being printed in China. I don't but it's your call. My advice? Buy this book.
Most recent customer reviews
President Jefferson does a favor here.
Interesting insight to how the man thought too, as a smart awesome Deist.Read more