2014年12月2日 星期二

The Jefferson Bible, or The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth/ "America's first microbrewer",


 Former president Thomas Jefferson, who lived in the White House between 1801 and 1809, is known to have brewed beer himself, particularly after his retirement. He has been called "America's first microbrewer", but there is no evidence that it happened within the White House.[1]



 *****
1940/12/26 胡適在此聖誕節假期讀一本美國名選集, 說明其緣起:
"此書選擇甚精, 甚可讀。"

The Jefferson Bible, or The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth as it is formally titled, was Thomas Jefferson's effort to extract the doctrine of Jesus by removing sections of the New Testament containing supernatural aspects as well as perceived misinterpretations he believed had been added by the Four Evangelists.[1][2]

Contents

[hide]

[edit] Early draft

In an 1803 letter to Joseph Priestley, Jefferson states that he conceived the idea of writing his view of the "Christian System" in a conversation with Dr. Benjamin Rush during 1798–99. He proposes beginning with a review of the morals of the ancient philosophers, moving on to the "deism and ethics of the Jews," and concluding with the "principles of a pure deism" taught by Jesus, "omitting the question of his deity." Jefferson explains that he really doesn't have the time, and urges the task on Priestley as the person best equipped to accomplish the task.[3]
Jefferson accomplished a more limited goal in 1804 with “The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth,” the predecessor to Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.[4] He described it in a letter to John Adams dated 13 October 1813:
In extracting the pure principles which he taught, we should have to strip off the artificial vestments in which they have been muffled by priests, who have travestied them into various forms, as instruments of riches and power to themselves. We must dismiss the Platonists and Plotinists, the Stagyrites and Gamalielites, the Eclectics, the Gnostics and Scholastics, their essences and emanations, their logos and demiurges, aeons and daemons, male and female, with a long train of … or, shall I say at once, of nonsense. We must reduce our volume to the simple evangelists, select, even from them, the very words only of Jesus, paring off the amphibologisms into which they have been led, by forgetting often, or not understanding, what had fallen from him, by giving their own misconceptions as his dicta, and expressing unintelligibly for others what they had not understood themselves. There will be found remaining the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man. I have performed this operation for my own use, by cutting verse by verse out of the printed book, and arranging the matter which is evidently his, and which is as easily distinguishable as diamonds in a dunghill. The result is an octavo of forty-six pages, of pure and unsophisticated doctrines. [3]
Jefferson frequently expressed discontent with this earlier version. The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth represents the fulfillment of his desire to produce a more carefully assembled edition.

[edit] Content

Using a razor, Jefferson cut and arranged selected verses from the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in chronological order, mingling excerpts from one text to those of another in order to create a single narrative. Thus he begins with Luke 2 and Luke 3, then follows with Mark 1 and Matthew 3. He provides a record of which verses he selected and of the order in which he arranged them in his “Table of the Texts from the Evangelists employed in this Narrative and of the order of their arrangement.”
The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth begins with an account of Jesus’s birth without references to angels, genealogy, or prophecy. Miracles, references to the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus, and Jesus' resurrection are also absent from The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth .[5] It does however include references to Noah's Ark, the Great Flood, the Tribulation, and the Second Coming, as well as Heaven, Hell, and the Devil. The work ends with the words: “Now, in the place where he was crucified, there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus. And rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.” These words correspond to the ending of John 19 in the Bible.

[edit] Publication history

After completion of the Life and Morals, about 1820, Jefferson shared it with a number of friends, but he never allowed it to be published during his lifetime.
The most complete form Jefferson produced was inherited by his grandson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, and was published in 1895 by the National Museum in Washington.
The book was later published as a lithographic reproduction by an act of the United States Congress in 1904. For many years copies were given to new members of Congress.[6] The text is in the public domain and freely available on the Internet.

[edit] Criticism

In the introduction to the Akashic Books 2004 edition of The Jefferson Bible, Percival Everett describes the work with a derogatory tone:
Jefferson's recasting of the four Gospels of the New Testament…was an interesting bit of play intellectualism. Many claim his "translation" amounts to little more than a paraphrasing of the parts of the Bible with which he agreed. In fact, a glance at [several earlier translations of the Bible] might lead one to agree with this assertion. Still, he took it upon himself to do it, whatever it was he did. He decided that the rules of the club to which he wished to belong were not the rules he wanted to play by. So instead of changing clubs, he changed the rule book by literally cutting and pasting together only the sections that he found relevant to his interpretation.

[edit] Editions in print

  • The Jefferson Bible: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth (2006) Dover Publications paperback: ISBN 0-486-44921-1
  • The Jefferson Bible, (2006) Applewood Books hardcover: ISBN 1-55709-184-6
  • The Jefferson Bible, introduction by Cyrus Adler, (2005) Digireads.com paperback: ISBN 1-4209-2492-3
  • The Jefferson Bible, introduction by Percival Everett, (2004) Akashic Books paperback: ISBN 1-888451-62-9
  • The Jefferson Bible, (2001) Beacon Press hardcover: ISBN 0-8070-7714-3
  • The Jefferson Bible, introduction by M.A. Sotelo, (2004) Promotional Sales Books, LLC paperback
  • Jefferson’s “Bible:” The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, introduction by Judd W. Patton, (1997) American Book Distributors paperback: ISBN 0-929205-02-2

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Kosselak, Jeremy (November 1998). The Exaltation of a Reasonable Deity: Thomas Jefferson’s BIBLE of Christianity. (Communicated by: Dr. Patrick Furlong). Indiana University South Bend - Department of History. Archived from the original on 2007-02-08. http://web.archive.org/web/20070208113540/http://www.iusb.edu/~journal/1999/Paper9.html. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
  2. ^ R.P. Nettelhorst. Notes on the Founding Fathers and the Separation of Church and State. Quartz Hill School of Theology. http://www.theology.edu/journal/volume2/ushistor.htm. Retrieved 2007-02-20.
  3. ^ a b Excerpts from the Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson Retrieved on March 30, 2007
  4. ^ Unitarian Universalist Historical Society profile of Jefferson, Retrieved on March 30, 2007
  5. ^ Reece, Erik (December 1, 2005). "Jesus Without The Miracles - Thomas Jefferson's Bible and the Gospel of Thomas". Harper's Magazine, v. 311, n. 1867. http://www.mindfully.org/Reform/2005/Jesus-Without-Miracles1dec05.htm.
  6. ^ Hitchens, Christopher (January 9, 2007). What Jefferson Really Thought About Islam. Slate. http://www.slate.com/id/2157314/. Retrieved 2007-01-24.

[edit] External links





Did Thomas Jefferson Call the Bible a Dung Hill?

The Founding Father critiqued the Good Book -- sort of.
 
 
  
American Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, who authored the Declaration of Independence and served as the third president of the United States, also took a pair of scissors to the Bible, publishing a thin volume of the parts he thought worth keeping. The original Jefferson Bible exists to this day, and is available online. But did Jefferson actually call the Good Book a dunghill, like some say?
The answer to that question is kind of yes, kind of no.


Yes, Jefferson thought that most of the Bible was, in modern vernacular, a load of crap, and yes, he did, by way of analogy, use the term “dunghill.” No question: If Barack Obama repeated Jefferson’s words, conservative Republicans would leap to their feet and the dunghill would hit the fan.

But this is now and that was then, so stick with me for the other half of the answer, which requires some context and the words of Jefferson himself.

By comparison with some of Thomas Paine’s comments about the Bible, Jefferson’s critique was parlor talk. Jefferson saw himself as part of a dignified and righteous endeavor—a cadre of scholarly men working to remove the layers of mythology and superstition that congealed during the first and second centuries of Christianity. The analogy he used was separating dung from diamonds, and the words he kept—the diamonds--were the ones he thought to be authentic teachings of Jesus.

Jefferson’s quest to extract the man from the myth—the quest for the historical Jesus-- is one that continues today.

Christians have never agreed on who or what Jesus was, which is one reason Christianity fragmented into over 30,000 denominations and non-denominations. In the beginning, Jesus worship featured small conflicting and splintering sects that scholar Bart Ehrman callsLost Christianities. In the last 200 years, quarrelling theologians have been joined by legions of secular scholars—linguists, cultural anthropologists, antiquarians, hobbyist historians, creative writing professors, and even mental health professionals—each touting a version of the man behind the myth or questioning whether there actually was one.

Ironically, some of the first recorded attempts to differentiate Jesus-fiction from Jesus-fact were the Church councils that produced our modern Bible by declaring some early Christian writings to be divine in origin and others heretical. These councils lacked the tools of modern analysis, and their approach would be considered crude and naïve by today’s standards. Also most participants went into their committee meetings with a bias: that the kind of Jesus worship that had emerged in the center of political power—Rome—was the right kind. Committee members declared a “book” of writings in or out depending on whether the author claimed a close relationship with Jesus and whether the book aligned with the Roman variant of Christianity.

Convinced that they had separated divine revelation from dross, Church authorities sealed the “canon” or contents of the Bible, and as the Roman Church expanded with the Roman Empire, heretical texts and believers were burned. One twenty-year Christian crusade targeted a sect of Christians, Albigenses, who were deemed heretics.
By Jefferson’s day, the Enlightenment prevailed. The Protestant Reformation, two centuries earlier, had left the Bible itself largely intact (after excising the books that Protestants call Apocrypha) and, in fact, had vastly elevated its authority. But the American founding fathers and many intellectuals of their time no longer saw the gospels as gospel truth. Many were deists, who believed that spiritual truths are better found in the study of nature and the application of reason than in sacred texts. Jefferson, a man of his time, was no fan of Christian theologies or theologians, as excerpts from some of his letters make clear:
·       “On the dogmas of religion, as distinguished from moral principles, all mankind, from the beginning of the world to this day, have been quarreling, fighting, burning and torturing one another, for abstractions unintelligible to themselves and to all others, and absolutely beyond the comprehension of the human mind. Were I to enter on that arena, I should only add an unit to the number of Bedlamites.”
   --- To Carey, 1816: N. Y. Pub Lib., MS, IV, 409
·       “It is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in the Platonic mysticisms that three are one, and one is three; and yet that the one is not three, and the three are not one . . . But this constitutes the craft, the power and the profit of the priests. Sweep away their gossamer fabrics of factitious religion, and they would catch no more flies. We should all then, like the Quakers, live without an order of priests, moralize for ourselves, follow the oracle of conscience, and say nothing about what no man can understand, nor therefore believe.”
   --- To John Adams, 1813
·       “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.”
   --- To Van der Kemp, 1816
·       “The priests have so disfigured the simple religion of Jesus that no one who reads the sophistications they have engrafted on it, from the jargon of Plato, of Aristotle and other mystics, would conceive these could have been fathered on the sublime preacher of the Sermon on the Mount.”
   --- To Dr. Waterhouse, 1815
·       “Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.”
   ---To Peter Carr, 1787
However, despite his deep distaste for organized religion and nonsense, Jefferson never questioned whether Jesus himself was a real historical character or an inspiring role model. In fact, it was these two assumptions that led to his comment about dung in letters to James Madison and W. Short:
But the greatest of all reformers of the depraved religion of his own country, was Jesus of Nazareth. Abstracting what is really his from the rubbish in which it is buried, easily distinguished by its lustre from the dross of his biographers, and as separable from that as the diamond from the dunghill, we have the outlines of a system of the most sublime morality which has ever fallen from the lips of man.
   --- To W. Short, Oct. 31, 1819
In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills.
   –- To John Adams, 1804
To Jefferson’s mind, Jesus was a wise and beneficent moral teacher. The dross was the fabric of mythic stories that made him into a magical being, stories like the virgin birth, miracle healings, and the resurrection. He also loathed what he saw as superstition buried in Christian teachings about sin and salvation—the idea that we all are born into sin because of Adam and Eve, for example, or that a special few, the “elect” are chosen for an eternity in Heaven.
For Jefferson, as for hundreds of millions of people through history, the figure of Jesus became an inkblot test, a character drawn with enough ambiguity that he could project his own sense of what was right and good. Modern he-men have depicted Jesus as a body builder—a model for muscular Christianity. One well-heeled Evangelical preacher called him a guy you’d like to play golf with. Liberals talk about him as a friend to the poor. Conservatives as a righteous judge. As an educated man of the Enlightenment and a rebel against the British crown, Jefferson saw Jesus as a benevolent man of reason, killed ultimately not for our sins but for sedition. His Jesus was a mirror of his own aspirations—the values he sought in himself and the country he helped to found. The diamonds.
Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington and the founder of Wisdom Commons. She is the author of "Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light" and "Deas and Other Imaginings." Her articles can be found at Awaypoint.Wordpress.com.

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