Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Jefferson Bible: Newly Restored, Still Misunderstood

USA Today reports that the famous Jefferson Bible is being restored. This Bible contained the story of Jesus' life in chronological order, but it left out some of the miracles and resurrection. This fact is presented in the article, and later in the article it is said that Jefferson never sold it because he didn't want the give support to the claims that he was not a Christian. Those facts are probably all true, but they don't tell the whole story. And by not telling the rest of the story, they leave a false impression. It also leaves the impression that Jefferson left out all the miracles, even though there is evidence that some were originally included.

Jefferson was not an ideal Christian by my personal definition, but he called himself a Christian. And in the case of this Bible, his goal was not (apparently) to deny the miracles or resurrection, but was instead to make the Bible more understandable and acceptable for a primer for the Indians - to help show the Indians Jesus' teachings. In today's common concept of Jefferson - that he wanted a complete separation of church and state - this seems very odd indeed. Why would a President and Founding Father, if he believed in keeping religion far from government, create a Bible to give to the Native Americans of his time?

Read more about Jefferson's edition of the Bible here:
The Jefferson Bible

Also, look at the University of Virginia's Jefferson Library (once on the page, search for the word "indians"):
About the Jefferson Bible, from University of Virginia

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