Thomas Jefferson’s 1804 First Abridgement of Jesus’ Words ( Judd Patton )

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Thomas Jefferson’s original 1804 manuscript entitled, The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth, is a classic work in early American religious history. He engaged in this undertaking hoping to publish it for Native Americans. Unfortunately, the manuscript was lost after his death, between 1826 and 1858, except for the title page, table of texts, and two Bibles that he used to clip Scriptures and then paste into a notebook.

This new edition, electronically reconstructed from the Texts of Jefferson’s 1791 and 1799 KJV Bibles, has the words of Jesus in red-letters along with a marginal summary of the Scriptures and various notes to explain the Abridgement. Appendices highlight the moral and doctrinal precepts contained in Jefferson’s clippings and clarify various issues that have arisen over the years. Indexes make it a “Study Bible” for the inquiring reader. Seven rare, historic facsimiles of Mr. Jefferson’s Title page, Table of Texts and Bibles are included to make the readers say “Wow!”

Moreover, this edition addresses the myths that our third President was (1) anti-Bible, (2) that he wrote his own Bible and cut out the miracles, and (3) that he was a deist. In fact, few know that Mr. Jefferson was a member of the Virginia Bible Society and helped finance major Bibles of his era. The real Thomas Jefferson concluded: “I consider the doctrines of Jesus as delivered by Himself to contain the outlines of the sublimest system of morality that has ever been taught.”

Three recognized Christian historians—David Barton, Mark Beliles, and Garrett Sheldon— explain the context of Jefferson’s work for the Indians as a missionary manual, and defend it from the views of skeptics and secularists. Thomas Jefferson’s 1804 First Abridgement of Jesus’ Words is an exciting and valuable read for those who want to learn more about that “tall, read-headed bean-stalk,” and why he made a “cut-to –paste” Abridgement of the four Gospels during his tenure in the White House.

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