The Life and Morals of Jesus is a book that contains the teachings and moral principles of Jesus Christ. It is not a religious text in the traditional sense, but rather a compilation of selected passages from the New Testament, arranged in chronological order to create a narrative of Jesus’ life and teachings. The book was first published in 1804 by an American Founding Father named Thomas Jefferson, who was a Deist.
Who were the Deists?
Deism is a philosophical belief that emerged in Europe during the Enlightenment period. Deists rejected traditional religious dogma and instead believed in a rational, naturalistic explanation for the universe.
They saw God as an impersonal force that created the world, but did not intervene in human affairs. Many American Founding Fathers were influenced by Deist ideas, including Thomas Jefferson.
Why did Jefferson write The Life and Morals of Jesus?
Jefferson was deeply interested in religion and philosophy, but he was skeptical about many aspects of Christianity. He believed that the true essence of Jesus’ teachings had been obscured by centuries of religious tradition and dogma. He wanted to create a version of the New Testament that presented Jesus’ moral teachings without any supernatural or miraculous elements.
The Jefferson Bible
The Life and Morals of Jesus is also known as “The Jefferson Bible.” Jefferson began working on it in 1804, shortly after he left office as President of the United States. He used two copies of the New Testament – one in English and one in French – to compile his version.
Jefferson carefully selected passages from the Gospels that he believed represented Jesus’ moral teachings. He excluded all references to miracles, prophecies, and other supernatural events. He also removed any references to Jesus’ divinity or his claim to be the Messiah.
The Structure of The Life and Morals of Jesus
The Life and Morals of Jesus is divided into several sections, each representing a different period in Jesus’ life. The first section covers his birth and early childhood, while the later sections focus on his teachings and interactions with his disciples.
Jefferson arranged the passages in chronological order, but he also made some changes to the text to create a more coherent narrative. For example, he combined similar stories from different Gospels into a single narrative. He also removed any repetitions or contradictions in the text.
Reception of The Life and Morals of Jesus
The Life and Morals of Jesus was not widely known during Jefferson’s lifetime. He only shared it with a few close friends and family members. It was not until after his death that the book became more widely known.
In recent years, there has been renewed interest in The Life and Morals of Jesus as a historical document. Some scholars argue that it provides valuable insights into Jefferson’s religious beliefs and his views on the role of religion in society.
The Life and Morals of Jesus is an important work that reflects Thomas Jefferson’s unique perspective on religion and morality. While it may not be considered a religious text in the traditional sense, it provides valuable insights into how one of America’s most influential Founding Fathers viewed Jesus’ teachings. Whether you are interested in history, philosophy, or religion, The Life and Morals of Jesus is definitely worth reading.