The Corner

Dean’s Biblical Gaffe


Tom Sawyer would have been sympathetic. Here he is in Chapter 4, the scene

where the county judge drops in on Mr. Walters’s Sunday school class. Tom

has just won a Bible-study prize by fraudulent means, and been presented to

the judge, who says:

“And now you wouldn’t mind telling me and this lady some of the things

you’ve learned–no, I know you wouldn’t–for we are proud of little boys

that learn. Now, no doubt you know the names of all the twelve disciples.

Won’t you tell us the names of the first two that were appointed?”

Tom was tugging at a button-hole and looking sheepish. He blushed, now, and

his eyes fell. Mr. Walters’ heart sank within him. He said to himself, it is

not possible that the boy can answer the simplest question–why DID the

Judge ask him? Yet he felt obliged to speak up and say:

“Answer the gentleman, Thomas–don’t be afraid.”

Tom still hung fire.

“Now I know you’ll tell me,” said the lady. “The names of the first two

disciples were–”


Let us draw the curtain of charity over the rest of the scene.