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Erikson, E.H. (1996). The Galilean Sayings and the Sense of “I”. Psychoanal. Contemp. Thought, 19(2):291-337.

(1996). Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought, 19(2):291-337

The Galilean Sayings and the Sense of “I”

Erik H. Erikson


Thomas Jefferson, newly inaugurated as president, spent many solitary evenings in the White House studying the gospels in various languages. He marked each passage “line for line,” wondering whether or not it spoke to him with the true voice of Jesus, for he was interested only in “the genuine precepts of Jesus himself.” “I am a Christian,” he asserted, in the only sense in which he wished anyone to be: sincerely attached to his doctrines in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; and believing that he never claimed any other. Finally he cut the passages apart and pasted together those which passed his judgment, collecting them under the title of “The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth,” with a subtitle dedicating this work to the American Indians. I do not intend to pursue here Jefferson's principles of selection: to mention only two omissions, there was no resurrection and there were no miracles, healing or otherwise. But there was, indeed, the Sermon on the Mount.

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