BOOKS: Jesus, What He Really Said and Did

I came across a book by Stephen Mitchell called Jesus, What He Really Said and Did. In the introduction, he describes himself as a Jewish man who has a great love for Jesus Christ.

He referenced the Jefferson Bible, which is a New Testament Thomas Jefferson wrote of what Jesus truly said and excluded what Jefferson felt were writers putting words into Jesus’ mouth.

He also said that verses such as Mark 16:16, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever doesn’t believed will be damned,” were added by a Christian writer in the 2nd century.

Does the RCC recognize/condemn the Jefferson Bible, and are there parts of the New Testament that may have been added by others later? Either way, it doesn’t affect my belief in Jesus Christ, but I was curious if this is in line with Catholic teaching, or if the guy is writing a book of misinformation.

The Church has spoken on the general subject of what Jesus may have said and what was possibly added in the document *Instruction on the Historical Truth of the Gospels *by the Pope Paul VI and the Pontifical Biblical Commission (available online).

This document includes statements applicable to your question such as:

“From the many things handed down they selected some things, reduced others to a synthesis, (still) others they explicated as they kept in mind the situation of the churches.”


…the Evangelists, in passing on the words and deeds of our Saviour, explained these now in one context, now in another, depending on (their) usefulness to the readers.


For the truth of the story is not at all affected by the fact that the Evangelists relate the words and deeds of the Lord in a different order, and express his sayings not literally but differently, while preserving (their) sense.

Thomas Jefferson was a Deist–which means that other than getting the universe started, God dosnt intervene in the universe (“God the snob”)–so miracles, like the Incarnation are right out.

So, Jefferson cut out all miracles and all claims of Deity from his “gospel”–from his Deist bias with no scholarship whatsoever.

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