Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Ben Franklin rewrites the Bible-

Got time for another Ben Franklin tale? I've been a big fan of ol' Ben, from the time I first read Robert Lawson's "Ben and Me" in third or fourth grade.

We recently found a copy of a little American Institute of Graphics Arts keepsake booklet done in 1927 called- "The Parable Against Persecution. A Proposed New Chapter for the Bible. By Benjamin Franklin".

Why, you ask, was Ben Franklin writing Bible chapters? That's a perfectly reasonable question...

The parable itself can be traced back to ancient times (but it was never in the Bible)- it tells the tale of a visitor to Abraham who is at first welcomed, and then chased into the night when he admits that he does not worship God. God then rebukes Abraham- “Have I borne with him (the visitor) these hundred and ninety eight years, and nourished him, & cloathed him, notwithstanding his rebellion against me; & couldst thou not, that art thyself a sinner, beare with him one night!

So Ben Franklin rewrote the original parable in Biblical verse and committed it to memory. When he was in the company of a Bishop or other church figure Franklin would open a Bible and then recite the parable from memory, while pretending to read from the book. He'd then slam the book shut and demand of the churchman what chapter and verse he had just read.

Now was that really very nice?

The fun was ruined when a friend in England published the parable and attributed it to Franklin. We put the booklet, which has a striking Art Deco illustration by Carl Purlington Rollins, up on Ebay. Click our Ebay link for more info.

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