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The Bible According to Mark Twain by Mark…

The Bible According to Mark Twain

by Mark Twain

Other authors: Howard G. Baetzhold (Editor), Joseph B. Mccullough (Editor)

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    The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster by Bobby Henderson (Kaelkivial)
    Kaelkivial: For those who don't mind a good jab at religion!

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I got this book primarily for the "Letters from the Earth," so the four stars go for that. The book as a whole gets three. The rest of the book was made up of stories that had mostly been printed elsewhere. I was surprised and a little disappointed that the scope of the book was limited to Twain's feelings on The Fall and Heaven. It is apparent from some of the appendices that his religious opinions ranged wider than that, so I'm not sure why they weren't included. The "Letters" were great though, as scathing and well-argued as I had hoped. And the biographical information evident throughout the rest of the book and its introductions was of great interest as well. ( )
  blake.rosser | Jul 28, 2013 |
A collection of fictional pieces by Mark Twain on various subjects relating to religion and the Bible. Most of these were unpublished in Twain's lifetime, or were published only partially, and aren't necessarily complete.

The book is divided into three sections. The first consists of extracts from the diaries of various Biblical characters, starting with Adam and Eve and continuing, somewhat haphazardly, up through accounts of a great pre-Flood civilization that bears a not entirely coincidental resemblance to Twain's own. The tone varies a lot through these, from sardonic commentary to delightfully silly humor to some passages that are really quite unironically touching. While Twain's writing is, as always, great, it's clear that most of this material never got finished and put together quite the way Twain would have liked it, making it a somewhat choppy and not entirely satisfying read.

The second section deals with the concept of heaven, and includes two very similar stories about people dying and going to heaven (or dreaming they've died and gone to heaven), satirizing the somewhat unappealing popular conceptions of heaven as a rather limited little place full of harps, hymns, and halos, and not much else. There's also a bitingly funny little piece about an obnoxiously uncouth evangelist who enters heaven, immediately resulting in other people wanting to leave.

The third section contains the longish "Letters from the Earth," in which Satan pays a visit to Earth and writes letters back to his buddies in heaven detailing these ridiculous humans' ridiculous ideas about religion. The editors quote Twain as saying "this book will never be published," and it's not too difficult to see why he'd think so. Where the earlier pieces are comparatively gentle in their criticisms of Christianity, in this one Twain looses the full force of his scathing, acidic wit on the Bible's logical and moral flaws, and takes no prisoners. Godless heathen that I am, I loved it to pieces.

There is also a substantial set of appendices, which feature alternate versions of a few of these stories with deleted passages included, some of Twain's notes and outlines, and a couple of non-fictional excerpts in which he covers many of the same points the other works in this volume make, and which clarify his own essentially deistic take on religion.

Rating: 4/5. Because even when he's not producing a polished finished product, Twain is awesome. ( )
1 vote bragan | Apr 16, 2013 |
Mark Twain turns his acerbic wit against "The Good Book", and finds some things that might surprise many people who think they know the book. It certainly looks different in his hands. ( )
  quantum_flapdoodle | May 9, 2011 |
This book lives somewhere in between witty and highlarious. It's a perfect spot for Twain's unique take on the Bible.

If you like Twain, know your Bible, and have a healthy dose of religious skepticism, you'll love it. Actually, the only real essential to truly enjoying this is a smattering of Biblical knowledge, and a thick skin as regards blasphemy. But what else could you expect from Twain? Adam and Eve's respective diaries? Priceless. The original version of Mars/Venus.

As someone that rereads and rereads Twain, I have tremendous affection for his style. This book, written toward the end of his life, shows the same sort of vivid sense of humor as The Innocents Abroad. ( )
1 vote Oreillynsf | May 23, 2010 |
An interesting alternative way of looking at the stories in the Bible. Adds a bit of humor although dark to the old traditional interpretations. ( )
  BrendanCarroll | Mar 1, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Twain, Markprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baetzhold, Howard G.Editorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mccullough, Joseph B.Editorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Compiles letters, essays, diaries, and excerpts about heaven, hell, sinners, and saints.

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