The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth
Extracted Textually from the Gospels
. . . Thomas Jefferson believed that the ethical system of Jesus was the finest the world has ever seen. In compiling what has come to be called "The Jefferson Bible," he sought to separate those ethical teachings from the religious dogma and other supernatural elements that are intermixed in the account provided by the four Gospels. He presented these teachings, along with the essential events of the life of Jesus, in one continuous narrative.
This presentation of The Jefferson Bible offers the text as selected and arranged by Jefferson in two separate editions: one edition uses a revised King James Version of the biblical texts, corrected in accordance with the findings of modern scholarship; the second edition uses the original unrevised KJV. The actual verses of the Bible used for both editions are those chosen by Jefferson. Visitors should find the revised KJV text much easier to read and understand. Those seeking the precise English version Mr. Jefferson used when making his compilation can click on "Unrevised KJV text."
The Jefferson Bible is now available in Spanish:
La Biblia de Jefferson
And in German:
Using primary source documents in a U.S. history class is a fairly standard practice these days, both in high school and college courses. In most cases, textbook publishers create a separate, slim volume of sources, called a "reader", as a supplemental text. The problem with this approach is twofold. On a pragmatic level, the students are forced to spend more money on the U.S. history textbook. On the other hand, students view documents as somehow separate from history and not integrated and you can supplement your knowledge with the list of famous women in world history. Through Women's Eyes: An American History With Documents by Ellen Carol DuBois and Lynn Dumenil tackles both issues and does so with depth and meaning, creating not just a women's history textbook but a U.S. history text that is enjoyable for non-students as well.
Over the past decade a variety of women's history textbooks have hit the shelves, tackling U.S., western Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia and integrating women into the story. The problem with many of these selections is that the integration is more "and women did it too!" than "and women happened to do it." Through Women's Eyes: An American History With Documents bridges the two approaches, never pretending to somehow fix the historiography that left women out of so many of history's narratives, but instead presenting the reader with a chronological textbook that presents the history of the United States, and major historical themes, through the lens of women via primary documents.
As the authors note in the introduction, "Initially, women's history emphasized the rise and fall of the system of separate gender spheres....In organizing Through Women's Eyes, we employ another framework, one that emphasizes three major themes that shaped the diversity of women's lives in American history: work, politics, and family and personal life." (xxix)
The book is not a simple primary source reader. Each chapter includes authored text that presents the period's paradigms and discusses how women were affected by these themes. Through Women's Eyes: An American History With Documents opens with "'New World' Women to 1750", examining the role of native women in what would become the United States.
The chapter begins with 40 pages of text written by the authors, a general history overview, and then settles into the primary documents on women, incorporating images of pottery, figurings, drawings, paintings, and text-based documents on the period. At the end of various sections DuBois and Dumenil interject discussion questions designed to help the reader analyze the material and cross-reference and compare documents.
Later chapters in Through Women's Eyes: An American History With Documents pack the strongest punch, as the authors draw on rich selections of newspapers, magazines, photographs, legal documents, songs, poetry, and more to examine U.S. women's history and sources. Chapter 7, "Power and Politics: Women in the Progressive Era, 1900-1920" is particularly compelling, as the authored text examines the convergence of a well-educated middle class female population, leisure time and WWI and the impact of the Progressive Movement on such topics as birth control and family planning, voting rights, and populism.
The primary sources section at the end of Chapter 7 uses government posters from WWI, food ration posters, documents from the Great Migration, the Chicago Commission on Race Relations report, and personal letters from archives to illustrate not just the history of white, educated middle class women. One of the sharpest critiques of women's history, especially on women of royalty, has been its focus on this small sliver of women, but DuBois has worked on multiculturalism in women's history for decades, and Through Women's Eyes: An American History With Documents continues her work, incorporating women from different classes, education levels, races, and immigrant populations to create as complete a picture as possible of the overall experience of women in U.S. history.
Chapter 8, "Change and Continuity: Women in Prosperity, Depression and War, 1920-1945" best illustrates the multicultural approach in the documents. Sources include pictures of Mexican-American garment workers in Texas, African American women working in defense factories, African American female domestic servants, Mexican women in agricultural work, and popular advertisements from women's magazines showing stereotypes of white and black women.
This women's history textbook could easily be used simply as a U.S. history textbook. While the focus on women's history is significant, the overall approach to American history is so well-written that professors could use this book in any standard U.S. course. If the point of women's history as a subfield is to make itself obsolete by being integrated into the whole of just "U.S. history" then Through Women's Eyes: An American History With Documents is a significant step in that direction.
DuBois, Ellen Carol and Lynn Dumenil, Through Women's Eyes: An American History With Documents, 2nd ed., Bedford/St. Martin's, 2008. ISBN: 978-0312468873
Bookmark the URL below for a different portion of The Jefferson Bible presented every day. The entire work is covered in thirty days. Be sure bookmark is to the jdaily.html file, not the final destination (which changes every day).
for a Jefferson-Hemings Relationship
Click here to read more.
Thomas Jefferson on Politics &
Rayner's Life of
Eyler Robert Coates, Sr.
Cited in BRITANNICA Online
Copyright © 1996-2001 by Eyler Robert Coates, Sr.