The Edited Bible of #ThomasJefferson

I got a wonderful Christmas present from my dear friend Alec Frazier, who heads Autistic Reality.

When I was in Washington DC recently, he took me to the FDR Memorial and the Library of Congress where I saw Thomas Jefferson's personal library. It was an awe-inspiring experience. Jefferson was not only the author of the Declaration of Independence, and our first Autistic president, he was also instrumental in shaping the very soul of our government.

These books were the foundation of America -- the books that shaped Jefferson's personal philosophy. Locke, Hobbes, Hume... all of the secular philosophers. But there was another philosopher that Jefferson admired.

Jefferson was a Deist, someone who agreed with the moral principles of Jesus, but denied his divinity. Jefferson composed a book, The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, commonly referred to as the "Jefferson Bible." It was comprised of sections carefully clipped from the New Testament of an English King James Bible, and translations of the text in Greek, French, and Latin. Jefferson excluded any miracles or mentions of the divine origins of Jesus. He sent the results to a bookbinder.

My present from Alec was the Smithsonian Institution's full-color facsimile of the Jefferson Bible. The book is exquisitely made.

The leather-bound book has a heavy plastic slipcover printed with the title and back cover information. When removed, it has a cover just like the original gold-tooled Jefferson version

Jefferson's beautiful handwriting forms the title page.

Inside, the maps are attached just as they are in Jefferson's book.

Jefferson carefully wrote out an index of the contents.

The reproduction is so faithful that they attached a small paper slip where Jefferson had glued in a piece of a verse that he'd clipped off when he pasted in the original.

The front of the book has a section which explains the origins of the book and the work the Smithsonian has done in its conservation.

Alec got to see the original when it was on display in 2011 (and yes, I'm jealous.) 

It should probably be noted that on Jefferson's tombstone, three accomplishments are listed: authoring the Declaration, founding the University of Virginia, and being the author of the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom. In all three, his philosophical education was the foundation.

It's been a difficult year, but this lovely gift ended it on a high note. Thank you, Alec, from the bottom of my bibliophile-historian soul.

1 comment:

  1. You are MOST welcome! It's not often that I meet someone as obsessed with history and books as I am!


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