Saturday, December 24, 2011

Thomas Jefferson's version of the Nativity story

Taken from his redaction of the Gospels, commonly known as the Jefferson Bible:
And it came to pass in those days that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 
(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem (because he was of the house and lineage of David,)
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger:  because there was no room them in the inn. 
And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS.
As with his usual approach in his Gospel redaction, Jefferson has eliminated any trace of the miraculous in regard to Jesus' birth.  No angels harkening, no shepherds in the field by night, no miraculous conception -- yet at the same time the power of the story of Jesus' birth comes through:  the dictates of an occupying power greedy for taxes, the sojourn of the Holy Family to Bethlehem, the culmination of Providence in the timing of the birth, the holy Infant swaddled in a manger because there were not lodgings for the family at the inn.  What a powerful story, even without the miracles.  A story of a birth that, even when told without the trumpets and angels, was no ordinary birth.


Brad Hart said...

I'm not surprised that this was Jefferson's view of Jesus' birth. That pretty much sums up his feelings on the New Testament in general.

As a Christian, all I can really say is "Jefferson is wrong."

But that's just my take.

bpabbott said...

Brad/others, I have a different take.

I favor the idea that Jesus was a mortal, as all of us are. It raises the bar for us ... allows us to strive to match the example of his morality.