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Jefferson compiled his first work in , producing The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth. In what can be appropriately coined as an act of bibliocide, with a razor on one hand and paste on the other, Jefferson took two copies of the King James Bible, cut out what he considered were authentic passages, and thematically grouped together the words of the moral Jesus. How much time Jefferson had to undertake this project is unclear, especially when he had to attend to the daily business of governing a young nation, one that nearly doubled in size in after the Louisiana Purchase.

In his retirement, Jefferson started his second work sometime in and most likely finished it in On the right margin are his handwritten notes indicating the Gospel source. Matthew introduces a genealogy that draws a straight line from Jesus back to the Babylonian exile, David, and Abraham. The beginning of Life and Morals of Jesus feeds into the popular opinion that Jefferson is quite happy to take a razor and carve up every single page of the Bible. In what critical scholarship recognizes as the longer ending to Mark, Jesus is received in heaven and his disciples continue his work Mark Upon a comparison of Life and Morals of Jesus to the New Testament Gospels, gone are the angels, wise men, miracles, most of the references to Jesus as the Christ, and the resurrection.

What remains is Jesus the enlightened sage and his moral teachings. For many, this cut-and-paste approach to a sacred text is at best haphazard or at worst irreverent—how can anyone pick and choose what texts to keep and what texts to leave on the editing floor? In truth, what Jefferson does here is not entirely unique. From the time the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John enjoyed wide circulation, careful readers have long observed that at the very least Matthew, Mark, and Luke share a significant amount of the same contents but with subtle differences in the details.

To illustrate: almost every nativity scene available for commercial consumption contains the usual cast of characters: baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, angels, barn animals, wise men, and shepherds. The inspiration for this nativity scene comes from the Gospels. In Matthew , wise men from the East arrived in Bethlehem to pay homage to baby Jesus. Sticking to Matthew, no one else arrives, which is slightly curious as shepherds are commonly part of the nativity scene. Matthew, however, makes no mention of shepherds; instead, the shepherds are in Luke and Luke lacks anything about wise men arriving from the east.

The nativity scene is a conflation of two reports of the baby Jesus: the wise men from Matthew and the shepherds from Luke.


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Discrepancies between the Gospels such as the one described above are often explained away through harmonization, but other discrepancies are more difficult to resolve. When Jesus is put on trial, according to Matthew he is given a scarlet robe to wear Matthew , Yet when Jesus is on trial in Mark and John, he is adorned with a purple robe Mark , 20 and John , 5. Here as well, there is nothing wrong with a purple robe, as purple symbolizes royalty.

Some readers may not see a problem in either case, insisting that one gospel has some of the details and another gospel contains additional details, and it is only until the gospels are read together when a full picture evolves. Jefferson employs this tactic in his treatment of the Sermon of the Mount, by taking most of Matthew 5—7 as his base text and inserting portions of Luke.

In spite of his idiosyncrasies, Jefferson was not the first to present an abridgement of the New Testament Gospels, and Life and Morals of Jesus locates Jefferson along a long continuum of readers of the Gospels that stretches back to the earliest Christians. Jefferson was also not the first to separate Jesus the teacher from Jesus the miracle worker.

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In short, Christian Gnosticism is an early Christian movement rooted in the philosophical traditions of the Greco-Roman world that seeks the pursuit of knowledge Greek gnosis in order to liberate the spirit from the flesh. Unlike the New Testament Gospels, the Gospel of Thomas is not a narrative; it is rather a collection of sayings attributed to Jesus. Matthew ; Mark ; Luke Plato, Republic EB, a partial translation into Coptic of which was also discovered at Nag Hammadi The Gospel of Thomas lacks any mention of the miracles, passion narrative, resurrection, and Jesus as messiah.

While the contents of both Philosophy of Jesus and Life and Morals of Jesus may be scrutinized, but at the very least Jefferson can be commended for the time and energy he devotes to studying the Bible. It is somewhat curious that Jefferson also desires to keep the Bible away from maturing and studious minds; specifically, students at a university. Upon the establishment of the University of Virginia in , Jefferson was heavily involved in designing the curriculum which included ancient and modern languages, pure and applied mathematics, grammar, ethics, law, and government.

Notably absent is anything related to the Bible. Instruction in the Bible was offered at Harvard College and Yale College as it aligned with their religious ties and primary mission to instruct future clergy.

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If Jefferson could draw up the curriculum for a later time, then perhaps he would have included the Bible. The humanistic study of Jesus of Nazareth postdates Jefferson as it is the product of the academic Bible that sprang out of the research university in 18th century Germany. God and Money. You cannot serve God and mammon. Dependence on God. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Are not you more important than they? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow.

1 Chronicles 10:13

They do not work or spin. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.


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  • Sufficient for a day is its own evil. In each, the conduct of the hypocrites Mt is contrasted with that demanded of the disciples. The sayings about reward found here and elsewhere Mt , 46 ; — 42 show that this is a genuine element of Christian moral exhortation.

    King James Version (KJV)

    They have received their reward : they desire praise and have received what they were looking for. Their babbling probably means their reciting a long list of divine names, hoping that one of them will force a response from the deity. Ez , in this case, by the establishment of his kingdom in its fullness.

    Your will be done, on earth as in heaven : a petition that the divine purpose to establish the kingdom, a purpose present now in heaven , be executed on earth.

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    A single occurrence of the word outside of these texts and of literature dependent on them has been claimed, but the claim is highly doubtful. The latter would conform better to the eschatological tone of the whole prayer. So understood, the petition would be for a speedy coming of the kingdom today , which is often portrayed in both the Old Testament and the New under the image of a feast Is ; Mt ; — 10 ; Lk ; — The request is probably for forgiveness at the final judgment.

    Didache It deals principally with worldly possessions, and the controlling thought is summed up in Mt : the disciple can serve only one master and must choose between God and wealth mammon.