World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Clarence Jordan

Clarence Jordan (July 29, 1912 – October 29, 1969), a Cotton Patch paraphrase of the New Testament. He was also instrumental in the founding of Habitat for Humanity. His nephew, Hamilton Jordan, served as White House Chief of Staff during the Jimmy Carter administration.


  • Life 1
    • Early years 1.1
    • Koinonia Farm 1.2
    • Cotton Patch series 1.3
    • Habitat for Humanity 1.4
  • Bibliography of Jordan's writings 2
  • References 3
  • Further reading 4
  • External links 5


Early years

Jordan was born in agriculture in 1933. During his college years, however, Jordan became convinced that the roots of poverty were spiritual as well as economic. This conviction led him to The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, from which he earned a Ph.D. in the Greek New Testament in 1938. While at seminary Jordan met Florence Kroeger, and the couple were soon married.

Koinonia Farm

In 1942, the Jordans and another couple, Martin and Mabel England, who had previously served as Acts 2:42 is applied to the earliest Christian community.

The Koinonia partners bound themselves to the equality of all persons, rejection of violence, ecological stewardship, and common ownership of possessions. For several years the residents of Koinonia lived in relative peace alongside their Communist ties.

Interestingly, Jordan chose not to participate in the marches and demonstrations of the era. He believed that the best way to effect change in society was by living, in community, a radically different life.

Cotton Patch series

In the late 1960s, the hostilities gradually subsided, and Jordan increasingly turned his energies to speaking and writing. Among the latter are his well-known Cotton Patch series, homey translations of New Testament writings. Jordan believed it was necessary not only to translate individual words and phrases, but also the context of Scripture. Thus, Jordan retitled Paul's letter to the Ephesians "The Letter to the Christians in Birmingham." His translation of Ephesians 2:11-13 is typical:

So then, always remember that previously you Negroes, who sometimes are even called "niggers" by thoughtless white church members, were at one time outside the Christian fellowship, denied your rights as fellow believers, and treated as though the gospel didn't apply to you, hopeless and God-forsaken in the eyes of the world. Now, however, because of Christ's supreme sacrifice, you who once were so segregated are warmly welcomed into the Christian fellowship.

Along with his rendering of "Jew and Gentile" as "white man and Negro," Jordan converted all references to "crucifixion" into references to "lynching," believing that no other term was adequate for conveying the sense of the event into a modern American idiom:

there just isn't any word in our vocabulary which adequately translates the Greek word for "crucifixion." Our [1]

The Cotton Patch series used American analogies for places in the New Testament;

  • Bio on Koinonia Partners site.
  • The Cotton Patch Version of the New Testament
  • Briars in the Cotton Patch PBS documentary

External links

  • Tracy E. K'Meyer (1997). Interracialism and Christian Community in the Postwar South: The Story of Koinonia Farm. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia. 
  • Lee, Dallas (1971). The Cotton Patch Evidence. New York: Harper & Row. 
  • Marsh, Charles. The Beloved Community: How Faith Shapes Social Justice, from the Civil Rights Movement to Today (New York: Basic Books, 2004)
  • McClendon, Jr. James Wm. (1990). "The Theory Tested: Clarence Leonard Jordan - Radical in Community," in Biography as Theology. Philadelphia. pp. 89–113. 
  • Paul, William (2003). "Clarence Jordan." English Language Bible Translators. Jefferson, NC and London: McFarland and Company. pp. 121–122. 

Further reading

  1. ^ "Introduction to The Cotton Patch Version of Paul's Epistles - Cotton Patch". 
  2. ^ "Cotton Patch Gospel of Matthew". 


  • Why Study the Bible. Philadelphia: Baptist Youth Fellowship, 1953.
  • The Letter to the Hebrews or a First Century Manual For Church Renewal in the Koinonia "Cotton Patch" Version. Americus, Georgia: Koinonia Farm, 1963.
  • Practical Religion, or the Sermon on the Mount and the Epistle of James in the Koinonia Farm "Cotton Patch: Version. Americus, Georgia: Koinonia Farm, 1964.
  • Letters to Young Christians (I and II Timothy and Titus) in the Koinonia "Cotton Patch" Version. Americus. Georgia: Koinonia Farm, 1967.
  • Letters to God's People in Columbus (Colossians) and Selma (I and II Thessalonians) in the Koinonia Cotton Patch" Version. Americus, Georgia: Koinonia Farm, 1967.
  • Second Letter to the Christians in Atlanta or Second Corinthians in the Koinonia "Cotton Patch" Version. Americus, Georgia: Koinonia Farm, 1968.
  • To God's People in Washington: The Koinonia "Cotton Patch" Version of Romans. Americus, Georgia: Koinonia Farm, 1968.
  • Letters to Ephesians and Philemon in the Koinonia "Cotton Patch" Version. Americus, Georgia: Koinonia Farm, 1968.
  • Letters to The Georgia Convention (Galatians) and to the Alabaster African Church, Smithville, Alabama (Philippians), in the Koinonia "Cotton Patch" Version. Americus, Georgia: Koinonia Farm, 1968.
  • The Cotton Patch Version of Paul's Epistles. New York: Association Press, 1968.
  • The Cotton Patch Version of Luke-Acts, Jesus Doings and Happenings. New York: Association Press, 1969.
  • The Sermon on the Mount (Revised Edition), Valley Forge, Pennsylvania: Judson Press, 1970.
  • The Substance of Faith and Other Cotton Patch Sermons By Clarence Jordan. Ed. Dallas Lee, New York: Association Press, 1972.
  • The Cotton Patch Version of Hebrews and the General Epistles. New York: Association Press, 1973.
  • (With Bill Doulos) Cotton Patch Parables of Liberation, Scottdale, Pennsylvania: Herald Books, 1976.
  • Cotton Patch Version of Matthew and John. Macon, Georgia; Smyth & Helwys, 2004.

Bibliography of Jordan's writings

"He be gone now," reflected a neighbor in 1980, "but his footprint still here".

Jordan, however, would not live to see the completion of the first house. On October 29, 1969, he died suddenly of a heart attack. As he had requested, Clarence had a simple burial. His body was placed in a shipping crate from a local casket manufacturer and was buried in an unmarked grave on Koinonia property. Jordan's funeral was attended by his family, the Koinonia partners, and the poor of the community.

In 1965, Habitat for Humanity.

Habitat for Humanity

Jordan's translations of scripture portions led to the creation of a musical, Cotton Patch Gospel, telling the life of Jesus Christ using his style and set in Georgia, and incorporating some passages from his translations.


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.