The Jefferson Bible, Smithsonian Edition: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth by Thomas Jefferson, will be released November 1 by Smithsonian Books. It is the first complete full-color version of the Bible to be published, an exact facsimile of Jefferson’s famous (or in some quarters, infamous) handmade Bible, in which he pasted together his favorite passages from six versions of the Bible, two each in English, French, Latin, and Greek. Jefferson compiled verses from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in chronological order and excluded material he believed had been added by the evangelists, specifically all mentions of miracles and other accounts he called “contrary to reason.”
The original book—which Jefferson did not allow to be published during his lifetime—has been in the Smithsonian's collections since it was purchased from Carolina Randolph, Jefferson’s great-granddaughter, in 1895. Introductions by Smithsonian National Museum of American History curators Harry Rubenstein and Barbara Clark Smith explain how the book reflects Jefferson's “Enlightenment ideals,” as well as describing the conservation/restoration process.
Conservation began in March 2011 and was the result of deterioration that made it impossible to fully open the book any longer, according to Rubenstein. “We wanted to make it accessible to scholars, researchers, and the general public,” he said. The process of separating the pages allowed for taking high-resolution photographs of each page before it was reassembled and re-bound. The conservation was paid for by a combination of the Smithsonian’s public conservation fund, as well as contributions from private donors.
The Jefferson Bible, Smithsonian Edition will be on display in the Albert Small Documents Gallery at the Smithsonian, November 11, 2011, to May 28, 2012, along with two English editions of the New Testament that Jefferson used to clip passages and a copy of the 1904 U.S. Government Printing Office edition of the book. For more information go to http://americanhsitory.si.edu//jeffersonbible