The Gentle Blasphemer: Mark Twain, Holy Scripture, and the Book of Mormon

The Gentle Blasphemer: Mark Twain, Holy Scripture, and the Book of Mormon
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The Gentle Blasphemer: Mark Twain, Holy Scripture, and the Book of Mormon

Author Richard H. Cracroft

Chapter Sixteen of Mark Twain's Roughing It begins, "All men have heard of the Mormon Bible, but few except the 'elect' have seen it, or, at least, taken the trouble to read it." Conversely, all Mormons have heard of Twain's caustic burlesque on the Book of Mormon, but none seems to have taken the trouble to demonstrate to Gentiles that Twain was obviously one of the multitude who had not read the book. Indeed, the four chapters in Roughing It (1872) devoted to the Mormons and their "golden Bible" continue to evoke hilarity from Latter-day Saints, not only because of the burlesque on sacred Mormon institutions, of which Twain was understandably but appallingly ignorant, but also because of the amusingly evident fact that if Twain read the Book of Mormon at all, it was in the same manner that Tom Sawyer won the Sunday School Bible contest—by cheating.

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