National Museum of American History Presents Thomas Jefferson. The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will display Thomas Jefferson’s The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, a remarkable document from the early 19th century. Living at Monticello in retirement following his two terms as President, Jefferson assembled a private text in 1820, often referred to as “The Jefferson Bible.” Cutting excerpts from four translations—English, French, Latin and Greek—of the Four Gospels, Jefferson sought to tell a chronological and distilled version of Jesus’ life and moral teachings.

The display will present Jefferson’s handmade and recently meticulously conserved volume, together with two English editions of the New Testament that Jefferson used to excerpt passages, and a copy of the 1904 U.S. Government Printing Office edition of the book. Visitors will be able to explore each page of the bible at a special Web kiosk and view short videos about the book’s history and conservation treatment. “The volume provides an exclusive insight to the religious and moral beliefs of the writer of the Declaration of Independence, the nation’s third President, as well as his position as an important thinker in the Age of Enlightenment,” said Harry Rubenstein, curator at the museum. “The recent specialized treatment ensures that generations to come will be able to study and view this tangible witness to history.”

The exhibition “Jefferson’s Bible” will open in the Albert H. Small Documents Gallery Nov. 11 and run through May 28, 2012, and a companion website will be available at

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published.