Thomas Jefferson and Leo Tolstoy both revised the gospels, removing the fantasy and science fiction.
quote: “The Jefferson Bible, or The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth as it is formally titled, was Thomas Jefferson’s effort to extract what he considered the pertinent doctrine of Jesus by removing sections of the New Testament containing supernatural aspects as well as perceived misinterpretations he believed had been added by the Four Evangelists. Using a razor, Jefferson cut and arranged selected verses from the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in chronological order, mingling excerpts from one text to those of another in order to create a single narrative. After completion of The Life and Morals, about 1820, Jefferson shared it with a number of friends, but he never allowed it to be published during his lifetime. The most complete form Jefferson produced was inherited by his grandson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, and was published in 1895 by the National Museum in Washington.”
The Gospel in Brief by Leo Tolstoy
quote from the New York Times Book Review, September 9, 2018: “I’m rereading Tolstoy’s THE GOSPEL IN BRIEF. It’s his translation of the four Gospels of the New Testament, which he condenses into a single narrative of the life of Jesus. It’s idiosyncratic to the point of sacrilege. All the supernatural stuff is left on the cutting room floor — the Immaculate Conception, the walking on water, the Resurrection. What remains is the story of a poor person who showed up out of nowhere and started saying astonishing things about life and how to live it. Tolstoy doesn’t care whether Jesus was God or whether Christianity is a divine revelation. He doesn’t care what St. Paul thought about Jesus. What he cares about is trying to rescue from the murk of dogma a practical teaching that gives meaning to life. Perhaps he succeeded! Wittgenstein carried this book in the trenches in World War I and credited it with saving him from despair.” — James Ryerson, opinion editor