Jefferson worship

Dear Ace: What is this Jefferson Bible? And why are the Unitarian-Universalists so into it?—Newt Estament

Dear Newt: Jefferson had a Bible? It might be a case of the pot calling the kettle black, but that TJ sure was a shameless self-promoter!

   To find out about the Jefferson Bible, Ace called David Takahashi-Morris, co-minister of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church-Unitarian Universalists. As it turns out, the Jefferson Bible is not actually called the “Jefferson Bible.” In a blaze of uncharacteristic modesty, Jefferson actually named the text The Life and Teachings of Jesus of Nazareth by Thomas Jefferson.

   According to Takahashi-Morris, Jefferson became convinced that a great deal of the Bible had been added over the centuries, so that the actual religion of Jesus had been lost. As an educated (and self-important) person, Jefferson went back to the original Greek, and translated the text himself.

   Methodologically speaking, Jefferson took out all of the sections that he thought didn’t belong. Thus, the text is a distillation of what Jefferson presumed to be the actual teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Like Ace’s foolproof super-sleuth intuition, Jefferson used his instinctive sense of what was right and true in Christianity. In a letter to John Adams, he described the project as “abstracting what is really his from the rubbish in which it is buried…[to separate] the diamond from the dung hill.” Oh,
ho, snap!

   As to why the UUs are so fond of “Jefferson Bible,” Newt, it’s quite simple. Even though Jefferson wasn’t a member himself, he extensively spoke of his admiration for the Unitarian Church. In 1822, TJ forecasted, albeit falsely, that “there is not a young man now living in the United States that will not die an Unitarian.” With that kind of endorsement, it is only natural for UU church to claim Jefferson and his gospel as a spiritual ancestor, especially here in little old Charlottesville.

   Takahashi-Morris insists that it is just as common for the UUs to study the Hebrew Tanakh as the Jefferson Bible. So don’t worry, Newt, the Unitarian Univer-salists are not all about Jefferson worship—for that, Ace recommends visiting Monticello.

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Jefferson worship

Dear Ace: What is this Jefferson Bible? And why are the Unitarian-Universalists so into it?—Newt Estament

Dear Newt: Jefferson had a Bible? It might be a case of the pot calling the kettle black, but that TJ sure was a shameless self-promoter!

   To find out about the Jefferson Bible, Ace called David Takahashi-Morris, co-minister of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church-Unitarian Universalists. As it turns out, the Jefferson Bible is not actually called the “Jefferson Bible.” In a blaze of uncharacteristic modesty, Jefferson actually named the text The Life and Teachings of Jesus of Nazareth by Thomas Jefferson.

   According to Takahashi-Morris, Jefferson became convinced that a great deal of the Bible had been added over the centuries, so that the actual religion of Jesus had been lost. As an educated (and self-important) person, Jefferson went back to the original Greek, and translated the text himself.

   Methodologically speaking, Jefferson took out all of the sections that he thought didn’t belong. Thus, the text is a distillation of what Jefferson presumed to be the actual teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Like Ace’s foolproof super-sleuth intuition, Jefferson used his instinctive sense of what was right and true in Christianity. In a letter to John Adams, he described the project as “abstracting what is really his from the rubbish in which it is buried…[to separate] the diamond from the dung hill.” Oh,
ho, snap!

   As to why the UUs are so fond of “Jefferson Bible,” Newt, it’s quite simple. Even though Jefferson wasn’t a member himself, he extensively spoke of his admiration for the Unitarian Church. In 1822, TJ forecasted, albeit falsely, that “there is not a young man now living in the United States that will not die an Unitarian.” With that kind of endorsement, it is only natural for UU church to claim Jefferson and his gospel as a spiritual ancestor, especially here in little old Charlottesville.

   Takahashi-Morris insists that it is just as common for the UUs to study the Hebrew Tanakh as the Jefferson Bible. So don’t worry, Newt, the Unitarian Univer-salists are not all about Jefferson worship—for that, Ace recommends visiting Monticello.

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Our comments system is designed to foster a lively debate of ideas, offer a forum for the exchange of ad hoc information, and solicit honest, respectful feedback about the work we do. We’re glad you’re participating. Here are a few simple rules to follow, which should be relatively straightforward.

1) Don’t call people names or accuse them of things you cannot support.
2) Don’t direct foul language, racial slurs, or offensive terms at other commenters or our staff.
3) Don’t use the discussion on our site for commercial (or shameless personal) promotion.

We reserve the right to remove posts and ban commenters who violate any of the rules listed above, or the spirit of the discussion. We’re trying to create a safe space for a wide range of people to express themselves, and we believe that goal can only be achieved through thoughtful, sensitive editorial control.

If you have questions or comments about our policies or about a specific post, please send an e-mail to editor@c-ville.com.

Leave a Reply

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