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Summer Jefferson Symposium

Reassembling the Holy Word: Jefferson’s Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth

Any analysis of Thomas Jefferson’s relationship to the written word will have to come to terms with his controversial relationship to the Holy Bible.  In 1820, Jefferson completed a project of literally cutting and pasting excerpts from the Four Gospels of the New Testament to create his own book, which he called The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. Creation of that book will be examined to illuminate Jefferson’s complex relationship with received written authority not only in religious but in political spheres of life.


University of Virginia Magazine Article
Jefferson's Secret Bible by Ed Crews


Barbara Clark Smith
National Museum of American History

Barbara Clark Smith earned a doctorate in early American Studies at Yale University in 1983. Since then she has worked as curator at the National Museum of American History, where she specializes in social and cultural history, with a particular emphasis on colonial, revolutionary, and early national America. She is co-curator of the museum’s exhibition of the “Jefferson Bible,” and co-author of the introductory essay in the new Smithsonian Books edition of The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.

"I cannot live without books."
- Thomas Jefferson