Jefferson: Deist or Christian the Rebuttal!!

By Ron Fountain

I have spent some time researching Thomas Jefferson and his religious views.
I believe I've found a letter which reveals the true reason why Jefferson
created his own version of the NT....and it has nothing to do with Indians.
Below is an exerpt from a letter to John Adams Monticello [Oct 12, 1813],
written by Jefferson:

To compare the morals of the old, with those of the new testament, would
require an attentive study of the former, a search thro' all it's books for
it's precepts, and through all it's history for it's practices, and the
principles they prove. Ascommentaries too on these, the philosophy of the
Hebrews must be enquired into, their Mishna, their Gemara, Cabbala, Jezirah,
Sohar, Cosri, and their Talmud must be examined and understood, in order to
do them full justice. Brucker, it should seem, has gone deeply into these
Repositories of their ethics, and Enfield, his epitomiser, concludes in
these words. `Ethics were so little studied among the Jews, that, in their
whole compilation called the Talmud, there is only one treatise on moral
subjects. Their books of Morals chiefly consisted in a minute enumeration of
duties. From the law of Moses were deduced 613. precepts, which were divided
into two classes, affirmative and negative, 248 in the former, and 365 in
the latter. It may serve to give the reader some idea of the low state of
moral philosophy among the Jews in the Middle age, to add, that of the 248.
affirmative precepts, only 3. were considered as obligatory upon women; and
that, in order to obtain salvation, it was judged sufficient to fulfill any
one single law in the hour of death; the observance of the rest being deemed
necessary, only to increase the felicity of the future life. What a wretched
depravity of sentiment and manners must have prevailed before such corrupt
maxims could have obtained credit! It is impossible to collect from these
writings a consistent series of moral Doctrine.' Enfield, B. 4. chap. 3. It
was the reformation of this `wretched depravity' of morals which Jesus
undertook. 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 them. We must dismiss the Platonists and Plotinists, the
Stagyrites and Gamalielites, the Eclectics the Gnostics and Scholastics,
their essences and emanations, their Logos and Demi-urgos, Aeons and Daemons
male and female, with a long train of Etc. Etc. Etc. 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.

*Read this carefully*
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, andwhich is as easily distinguishable as
diamonds in a dunghill. The result is an 8 vo. of 46. pages of pure and
unsophisticated doctrines, such as were professed and acted on by the
unlettered apostles, the Apostolic fathers, and the Christians of the 1st.
century. Their Platonising successors indeed, in after times, in order to
legitimate the corruptions which they had incorporated into the doctrines of
Jesus, found it necessary to disavow the primitive Christians, who had taken
their principles from the mouth of Jesus himself, of his Apostles, and the
Fathers cotemporary with them. They excommunicated their followers as
heretics, branding them with the opprobrious name of Ebionites or Beggars.

If Jefferson really felt the bible was completely innerant and free of myth
and tall tales then why did he refer to it as a "dunghill" to which he had
to weed through and pull out the "diamonds".

Here are some other evidences that Jefferson believed the bible was corrupt
and full of man made dogmas:

(1)Jefferson biographer Jaroslav Pelikan wrote: "Like other Enlightenment
rationalists, Jefferson was convinced that the real villain in the Christian
story was the apostle Paul, who had corrupted the religion of Jesus into a
religion about Jesus, which thus had, in combination with the otherworldly
outlook of the Fourth Gospel, produced the monstrosities of dogma,
superstition, and priestcraft, which were the essence of Christian
orthodoxy." (Jefferson And Contemporaries, pg. 5)

(2)"Among the sayings and discourses imputed to Him [Jesus] by His
biographers, I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality,and
of the most lovely benevolence; and others, again, *of so much ignorance, so
much absurdity, so much untruth, charlatanism and imposture*, as to
pronounce it impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from
the same Being.  I separate,therefore, the gold from the dross; restore to
Him the former, and leave the *latter to the
stupidity of some, and roguery of others of His disciples*.  Of this band of
dupes and impostors, Paul was the great Coryphaeus [i.e., leader of a school
of thought], and first corruptor of the doctrines of Jesus.  These palpable
interpolations and falsifications of His doctrines, led me to try to sift
them apart.  I found the work obvious and easy, and that His past composed
the most beautiful morsel of morality which has been given to us by
man." --Thomas Jefferson to William Short, 1820.

(3)*Another dunghill comment*
The whole history of these books [the Gospels] is so *defective* and
doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such
tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books
relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much
doubt what parts of them are genuine. 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.

-Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, January 24, 1814

And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme
being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable
of the generation of Minerve in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that
the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do
away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and
genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors.

-Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823

I ask you, do you still really think Jefferson wrote his "corruption free"
version of the NT for the sake of witnessing to Indians?  Do you really find
comfort in abandoning intelligence and reason?

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