The papal stance on the Jefferson Bible

I’ve been very interested in the Jefferson Bible. It basically takes the gospels and strips all mention of the supernatural leaving only the moral philosophy of gospel teaching.

My question is how was this ever countenanced by the vatican? I would have assumed that it would be formally denounced but i can’t find any mention of this on wikipedia.

I admit to only have done the most superficial of research but can any dopers shed light? I’ve searched cecil’s columns and the message boards to no avail.

Have you looked inside the first pages and seen a “Nihil Obstat”?

The Vatican doesn’t usually bother denounce Bible editions, but Bible editions which are considered “kosher” by the Vatican carry that Nihil Obstat. If it doesn’t carry it, it means either it wasn’t submitted for approval (as would be this case, I imagine) or got rejected but was published anyway. Please keep in mind that a lack of Nihil Obstat it does not automatically mean it got rejected, many books along the lines of “the Gospel for Children” simply don’t get submitted, as they wouldn’t “pass” due to the amount of material that’s been left out.

Moving thread from IMHO to General Questions.

First, the Jefferson Bible was first created for Thomas Jefferson’s personal use. Only later was it put into print- I think by Congress as a commemoration to Jefferson. Do you think either TJ or Congress were bothered by what the Pope thought or that the Pope knew or cared about TJ’s religious views & his edited NT being put into print?

My mind reels at the sort of childrens’ books the Catholic Church would approve of. Hop On Father, Horton Hears a Who (So Let’s Stop Doing That Til It Goes Away), Yurtle Looks Like a Turtle When You Pull Back the Skin a Little

The lack of the Nihil Obstat doesn’t mean that the Church specifically disapproves of a book, only that it doesn’t consider it an appropriate measure for teaching the faith. Most books aren’t meant for teaching the faith in the first place, so they don’t bother, and nobody cares.

Did the pope approve or reject the Declaration of Independence, another Jefferson work.

I don’t believe the Pope made any public comment. The Pope was concerned about Catholic rights in England, though, and in 1777, received two of the King’s brothers.

[Moderator Note]

DanBlather, religious jabs are not permitted in GQ. No warning issued, but don’t do this again.

General Questions Moderator

I guess the underlying question is whether the pope did care or not.

I doubt the pope cared about the Declaration of Independence since it was largely a secular document. And I would imagine that the pope would have made no comment at all until it became clear who was going to win the war of independence.

However when a revision of one of the central documents of the Catholic Faith is published (albeit posthumously) by an important political leader and Head of State I figured that the leader of that organization would take some notice.

A revision of a Protestant bible by a leader in a Protestant country that the Papal States didn’t have an official embassies to. The Pope was a lot more concerned with what was going on in France than what was going on in America.

It would be more interesting to see what Fundamentalist Protestants think of the Jefferson Bible. They take That Book much more seriously.

Doctor James Merritt, once President of the Southern Baptist Convention, had this to say:

Doctor R Albert Mohler Jr, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, slips his similar objections into what started as a meditation on the death of Reverend Forrest Church:

Last month, the Texas Freedom Network discussed our infamous State Board of Education’s latest idiocy:

The whole essay is worth reading. But one of the commentors offered this opinion:

What did the Bible Thumping worthies preach when Jefferson’s Bible was published–long after his death? I’ll let somebody else search out the fire-breathing sermons…

For the record, it’s not just the Catholic Church that cares what is or isn’t an actual Bible. Looking at the copyright page on the Bible I have on my reference shelf, I see:

“copyright 1989, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.”

The NCC is pretty big, but it doesn’t include the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, the Southern Baptist Convention, several Presbyterian denominations, nor the Mormons. I’m guessing they all have their authorized versions of the Bible, which they teach from.

Did any Pope of that era or later take any official notice of any Protestant bible or commentary?

Again, it is not a Bible, but a collection of selected verses. And nothing saw print until 1895.

How does anyone imagine this was something that any Pope would care about? The Vatican is not involved with any of the many worlds of Protestantism. Nothing Protestants or Orthodox Catholics or any of the other variations of Christianity is subject to the approval or disapproval of the Pope. Nothing they say or do is any more or less wrong or denouncable. Martin Luther might have been a problem, but he was after all a lapsed Catholic. Jefferson was not. He lived in a country with no official religion, no allegiance to the Vatican, and no recognition of it as a political entity (which didn’t happen until Reagan).

Besides, you don’t get to be Pope if you’re so stupid as to harangue a major country about a work by one of that country’s legendary heroes that you have no business recognizing the existence of in the first place.

I agree that the Pope is not going to say anything. Remember that his position is as much political as it is religious. His religion doesn’t compel him to speak out, and, as mentioned, it would be politically stupid, so he’s not going to say anything.

What I did find is the Catholic Encyclopedia article, where they take a pretty impartial view:

I think its reasonable to imagine that the pope would take notice of a former president’s revision of a major religious document simply for the fact that its a president of a country that did it.

I’m not talking about haranguing or anything like that. I just wanted to know if the vatican ever took notice of it however staunch or tepid.

I didn’t know hardly a thing about it and the usual web sources weren’t much help so I asked here. It appears that the pope didn’t care about it enough to make any findable public statements so there’s my answer.

Thanks to everyone that responded.

Well, remember that Jefferson wasn’t exactly a great theologian. His “bible” went precisely nowhere outside of a handful of extreme liberal quasi-Christians. It’d be like asking what the President would say if a young Lenin copied the COnstitution and cut out all the bits he didn’t like: he probably wouldn’t have said anything provided he even heard about it, and it wouldn’t be the important thing anyway.

From Jefferson Bible - Wikipedia

"After completion of the Life and Morals, about 1820, Jefferson shared it with a number of friends, but he never allowed it to be published during his lifetime.

"The most complete form Jefferson produced was inherited by his grandson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, and was published in 1895 by the National Museum in Washington.

“The book was later published as a lithographic reproduction by an act of the United States Congress in 1904. For many years copies were given to new members of Congress.[6] The text is now freely available on the Internet since it is in the public domain.”

So the Jefferson Bible was a privately circulated document which no one outside Jefferson’s family and friends even knew about till much later.