Monday, January 09, 2017

What Greek-Latin Edition Did Jefferson Use for His Famous Bible?

Here’s a question for our American history buffs. I’ve looked in the usual places online and can’t find anything on this, but maybe some of our readers know. I’m curious as to what Greek NT Thomas Jefferson used to create is famous “Jefferson Bible.” If this is the first you’ve heard of that, here is how the Smithsonian explains its construction:
Wingrave (1794)
At seventy-seven years of age, Thomas Jefferson constructed his book by cutting excerpts from six printed volumes published in English, French, Latin, and Greek of the Gospels of the New Testament. He arranged them to tell a chronological and edited story of Jesus’s life, parables, and moral teaching. Left behind in the source material were those elements that he could not support through reason or that he believed were later embellishments, such as the miracles and the Resurrection. 
The act of cutting and rearranging passages from the New Testament to create something fresh was an ambitious, even audacious initiative, but not an act of disrespect. Through this distillation Jefferson sought to clarify Jesus’s teachings, which he believed provided “the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man.”
From the online facsimile, it looks pretty clear that he used a Greek-Latin diglot. Any ideas?

Update: it is an edition of Wingrave (London, 1794). Thanks to Stephen Goranson for the tip.


  1. Email the blogger Warren throckmorton, I bet he'd know (or know how to find out)

  2. Reportedly (by E.J. Goodspeed, HTR 1947)
    Greek: Wingrave (London, 1794)
    English: Jacob Johnson (Philadelphia, 1804)

  3. Brilliant. Thanks, Stephen. Here is the article by Goodspeed for the curious:

    As Goodspeed says, Wingrave's edition "was Leusden's Greek text (first published in Utrecht in 1675), with the preface of the Amsterdam edition of 1698, and the Latin translation of Benedictus Arias Montanus..."