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Celebrating Erasure III: The Jefferson Bible



Continuing in our series Celebrating Erasure, this week we focus on one of the most curious examples of erasure: the Jefferson Bible. Thomas Jefferson set out to extract every supernatural element of the New Testament. Starting with a beautiful leather-bound volume of the Bible, Jefferson physically removed any passage of miracles or god-like qualities with a razorblade. He glued phrases together, re-penned passages, and strung together a human narrative — all in order to distill the morality of Jesus.


He titled his creation “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth,” and never intended the project to become public. After his death, facsimiles were created and distributed publicly:



More information at the Smithsonian’s website.


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