Nothing bothered Clarence Jordan more as a preacher than his fear that the Bible no longer meant much to its readers. Presented in unfamiliar English, set in ancient times and populated by figures with strange-sounding names, the Scriptures were hard for common people to identify with.
A few years before his death, Jordan began writing his "Cotton Patch Version" of the New Testament, translating directly from the Greek into the idiom and setting of contemporary Georgia."By stripping away all the fancy language, the artificial piety, and the barriers of time and distance," he wrote, "this version puts Jesus and his people in the midst of our modern world, living where we live, talking as we talk, working, hurting, praying, bleeding, dying, conquering, alongside the rest of us. It seeks to restore the original feeling an excitement of the fast-breaking news - good news - rather than mustly history." He managed to complete Matthew, Luke, Acts, Paul's Epistles, and part of John before he died.
In the Cotton Patch Version, Jesus is born in Gainesville, Georgia, the child of Mary and Joseph Davidson (i.e., Joseph bar-David), and reared in Valdosta. Jesus begins his ministry after being baptized by John in the Chattahoochee River, then recruiting his twelve "agents": Simon "Rock" Johnson (Simon bar-Jonah) and his brother Andy, Jim and Jack Zebedde, Phil, Tom, Matt the Revenuer (an ex-IRS agent), Jim and Tad Alphaeus, Simon the Rebel, and Judas Iscariot.
In Jordan's translation of the Sermon on the Mount, the Revised Standard Version's "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" becomes "They who are gentle are his people, for they will be his partners across the land."
Jesus's ministry takes him to Savannah, Dalton, Calhoun, Augusta, Griffin, and other Georgia towns.
Finally Jesus Davidson and his agents in the God Movement come to Atlanta, where the Christians are preparing for their annual convention. After going to the First Church (the temple in Jerusalem), whre he "pitched out the whole finance committee, tore up the investment and endowment records, and scrapped the long-range expansion plans," Jesus is betrayed by Judas to the church's executive committee. They have him arrested. "Judas, one of the twelve, came up, and with him was a mob sent out by the power establishment and armed with guns and clubs. Now Jesus's informer had arranged to give the mob a signal: 'He'll be the one I kiss; nab him.' So he walked right up to Jesus and said, 'Hello, Doctor!' And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, 'O buddy, what have you arrived at?'"
The next day, after Governor Pilate washed his hands of the affair, Jesus Davidson was crucified, on a Hill outside Atlanta.