Done with his official work for the day, Thomas Jefferson sat in the new presidential mansion in Washington in 1803 and opened his Bible–not to pray, but to cut. He scoured the text for Jesus’ greatest teachings, sliced out his favorite portions, and glued them into an empty volume. He called it “The Philosophy of Jesus.” That book was lost to history.
In 1819, he started over and created a new version called “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth,” commonly referred to now as the Jefferson Bible. This volume was kept largely secret and passed among Jefferson’s relatives until 1895, when it was discovered by the librarian at the Smithsonian. In 1904, it was published by Congress.
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