Jefferson spent years of his life studying the moral teachings of great leaders ranging from Cato to Socrates, and Plato to Cicero. He concluded that those of Jesus were superior to all others. In 1820, he compiled over 80 of those teachings into what he titled The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.
He explained to his friends that he had compiled “ever text of the moral precepts of Jesus” so he could more closely study “the most sublime edifice of morality which had ever been exhibited to man.” That work included seminal moral teachings of Jesus, including the Good Samaritan, the Golden Rule, turning the other cheek, forgiving offenders, kindness to an enemy, the Lord’s Prayer, the Great Commandment, and many others.
Overtime, this work became known as The Jefferson Bible )even though Jefferson himself would have disputed that title). Many today claim that Jefferson was cutting out the parts of the Bible he didn’t agree with, but that’s clearly not the case. The story of Thomas Jefferson’s faith is vast, complex and fascinating.