I've recently read the Jefferson Bible and I am actively considering making it my primary Bible. Are there any current ministries that use this bible, and/or are there any active ministries that use this as their primary bible?

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    You do realize that the Jefferson Bible is a cut and paste job? It is missing a lot of the text because it was literally cut out. In personal reading, you might find it useful, but in an academic setting and even in casual discussion with others you will be disadvantaged, not having the entire text.
    – user3961
    Jul 1, 2015 at 15:43
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    Yup. 100% aware of what it is. I've also read many other complete versions :)
    – Sean C.
    Jul 1, 2015 at 15:48
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    What exactly do you have in mind when you say "ministry"? Jul 1, 2015 at 15:49
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    A church, or active ministry that eschews a standard bible, and preaches from the version Thomas Jefferson edited down to remove what he saw as mans influence over the words of Jesus :)
    – Sean C.
    Jul 1, 2015 at 15:50
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    It begs the question, "What is a Bible?" Does a translation that deliberately omits a very large number of verses that appear in the original manuscripts legitimately constitute a "Bible" anymore?
    – guest37
    Apr 14, 2017 at 16:40

1 Answer 1


It is impossible to prove a negative, but I believe that there are not any active groups that self identify as "Christian" and use the Jefferson Bible, as it is called.

The reasons for this conclusion are based on the history of publication and the purpose of the work.

History of publication

Jefferson apparently did not want to publish his work. In fact, there is good evidence that even his own religious identity he guarded steadfastly unto his death. He lived in a time when deviation from orthodoxy was taboo. Additionally, as a Forefather in American history, an entire nation was looking to him at times (and even much of Europe too), and confusing the populace with his own uncertainty in faith would only complicate matters and jeopardize their trust in him.

Consequently, Jefferson's Bible was relatively unknown until the 1940's. And even today, most of Christendom is unaware of it. Mitch Horowitz, writer for CNN, considers the "what if's" had Jefferson published his work.

In light of the Jefferson Bible being more of a curiosity in history, rather than a religious work for the benefit of a religious group, it is unlikely that any self identified Christian group uses it in their ministries.

Purpose of the work

Jefferson was very likely a Deist, according to many historians, and that is in line with his goals for his bible. He states explicitly in a number of places that his work was meant to remove any elements of spiritualism. Consequently, the work only includes portions of the gospels, those being purposefully the passages that do not contain any miracles, hints at the Trinity, or specific elements of any specific god.

It is not only missing more than half of the text that nearly all other Christians use, but also is jumbled into what Jefferson believed was the correct chronology of Jesus' life.

Though the work is entirely from the Bible, it is entirely not the Bible. If any group was using it for their ministries, quoting from it would cause great confusion, as it appears like the Bible at first, but is missing most of it. Instead, what seems more likely, is that deists or even humanist/secular groups may use it, but as an adjunct to their own central doctrine, whatever that may be.

The Wikipedia article is well sourced and covers a good deal about the purpose of Jefferson's work. Once familiar with that, it becomes apparent of the difficulties and unlikelihood that any self identified Christian group uses it in their ministries.


I always reserve the right to be proven wrong. There may indeed be a self identified Christian group that uses the Jefferson Bible. If so, I would bet they they are Unitarian, or even more liberal in their doctrine, especially regarding their Christology and Theology. Deists are said to be "the natural religion", which seems about as liberal in theology and doctrine as is possible. I would not be surprised if there are humanist/secular groups that stress moral living that use the Jefferson Bible, but probably as an adjunct to their more central ideologies. So called "Christian Atheists" are exactly what the Jefferson Bible would do well for. They are non-believers, however they find a high value in the ethics laid out in the Bible. But aside from assertions that they exist, I know nothing about them.

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    Jefferson was a Deist, not a Christian, so if any group now uses his Bible they would probably be Deist. Jul 1, 2015 at 21:56
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    Actually, I highly recommend that you take a look at this version... 25000 words, and if you think he's not a christian, I'd be surprised :) And if you have, take a look at some of his letters to others regarding his work :)
    – Sean C.
    Jul 2, 2015 at 16:39
  • @SeanC. Thank you for your interest. fredsbend alerted me to your msg. Jefferson called himself Christian but his beliefs are what we call Deism, which is that there is a creator God, but that God having completed his creation takes no further part in creation; in particular he does not answer prayers. His Bible removes, as "corrupt", all references to miracles and records Jesus only as a person who taught wonderful things. For him, there was no virgin birth and no resurrection, no walking on water, in fact no miracles at all. I think no one holding these views can be called a Christian. Jul 2, 2015 at 22:00

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