The Jefferson Bible is an important historical work and the Smithsonian has given us a wonderful opportunity to look at it in person, through this photocopied facsimile of it, complete with a map Jefferson pasted in and a little tab that has been glued on one page, just like on the original. This is a beautiful book and the story behind it is fascinating. (It actually looks better in person than the somewhat tacky cover image on this page with Jefferson's embedded portrait--you'll be glad to know that is a removable plastic cover and the book underneath has a blank red cover with no title and no photo of Jefferson--again, much like the original).
The Jefferson Bible is "must reading" for anyone interested in American history and/or who is willing to think critically about Christianity and the gospels. For anyone with those interests, I recommend as a companion book,THE JEFFERSON BIBLE What Thomas Jefferson Selected as the Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth which, unlike this edition, has the complete Jefferson Bible in English--organized in a very clear and readable way unlike so many other editions--and also gives an excellent introduction to Jefferson and the story behind this book). As beautiful as this facsimile is to look at, the font in the introduction is so small and faint that it is quite difficult to read and the photocopy is, in my opinion, impossible to read. (Wonderful to have and to look at--but not to read)
As a history buff who appreciates the opportunity to actually own a photocopied reproduction of The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, I would love to give this book 5 stars. But I can't, for two reasons. First, for being printed in China--which I understand is necessary to keep it affordable, but still is a sad commentary on our times that a taxpayer-funded national museum that is reproducing a work by one of America's greatest national leaders and patriots--has to have it printed in China, our biggest creditor.
But worse than that is that the title page calls this book "The Jefferson Bible" and treats its real title, "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth" as if its a subtitle. This, in something billed as a "facsimile edition" is, in my opinion, quite unfortunate, like reproducing the Declaration of Independence and calling it, "Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence".
No, actually it's worse than that, because at least Jefferson really wrote the Declaration of Independence. He not only did not write the Bible of course--but he called his reorganization of it, "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth". It was not called "The Jefferson Bible" until long after his death.
While one might say, "Well, they have to title it that way so people will find it and buy it" well I don't think that's enough of a reason to risk misunderstanding, especially for those who know very little about this book. A separate title page BEFORE the facsimile part of the book begins would have been an easy solution and its puzzling why they didn't try to avoid any misunderstanding.
It's unfortunate if even one person would leave with the impression that Jefferson would have titled this book after himself.
Also, its also unfortunate that, since this is a facsimile of the original, there is no way to read the actual text. It's a beautiful reproduction but the best thing about "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth", in my opinion, is that Jefferson edited it into a concise and meaningful narrative of Jesus' life and made an interesting historical and moral book without anything he felt was supernatural, unscientific or ahistorical. It is actually very good reading, including for young readers.
(And, as I say, for a companion book that not only has the text in English but also an excellent introduction to Jefferson, I recommend "The Jefferson Bible What Thomas Jefferson Selected as The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth". There are many copies of the Jefferson Bible, but this one is laid out to make it easy to read and also includes a unique introduction to Jeffeson, his life, and the story behind this book. Taken together, these two books complement each other--you can enjoy reading the text and learning about the original book with one, and then experience the historic facsimile.
"The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth" tells the reader about Jesus, his life and teachings, and, taken together, these two "Jefferson Bibles" tell us much about Thomas Jefferson as well.