Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Those Sensational Mormons, 1908

Those Sensational Mormons, 1908

By: Ardis E. Parshall - October 04, 2013

Joseph F. Thorup, a missionary working in Athens, Greece (part of the Turkish Mission) while translating the Book of Mormon into Greek in 1908, discovered that Mormonism’s reputation had preceded him …



As near as I can make this out, the titles are “Strange but True!” (a more literal translation might be “Novel yet Reality”) and “The Mysteries of the Mormons.”

On the other hand, at about the same time Elder Thorup came across a Greek newspaper printed in Salt Lake City (not a Mormon-sponsored paper), carrying pictures of the Temple and some civic buildings and a positive view of Mormonism; he also reported that the Greek press had been very friendly to him and had accepted several of the articles he had written.

But I don’t suppose any of them had thrilling color covers.



  1. Love it. :-)

    Comment by bfwebster — October 4, 2013 @ 8:57 am

  2. Will this be available as a frame ready print in the future? Perhaps as part of a “Keepapitchinin Limited Edition” series? I love the strong feminine image of the shooter. A little bit Annie Oakley like.

    Comment by Carl C. — October 4, 2013 @ 10:03 am

  3. Was this a magazine cover?

    Comment by Carl C. — October 4, 2013 @ 10:04 am

  4. So you could buy this at the local Safeway or Albertsons at the checkout counter? Inquiring minds want to know!

    Comment by kevinf — October 4, 2013 @ 10:12 am

  5. I haven’t found any explanation in correspondence yet; apparently it was just tucked into an envelope. So you know as much as I do.

    Because of the cheap paper it’s printed on, and because it looks like a price — 50 somethings — and, really, because the picture looks like it illustrates one of the many interchangeable “Godmakers”-like titillating fantasies, I’m guessing that this was the cover of a cheap magazine, like a dime novel or penny-dreadful … exactly the kind of thing that would be sold at whatever was the Greek 1908 equivalent of the Safeway checkout counter.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — October 4, 2013 @ 10:32 am

  6. A quick lesson in Greek reveals that the cost of this rag was 50 lepta, or half a drachma. And a Wikipedia entry says that in 1868 Greece joined the Latin Monetary Union, where the drachma was made equal in value to the French franc.

    That union collapsed during World War I, but until then the drachma was supposedly equal in value to the franc.

    What that means in terms of actual incomes or buying power is still a mystery. I can’t find any useful information about mean or median incomes for either Greece or France for that period.

    Comment by Mark B. — October 4, 2013 @ 11:56 am

  7. Thanks, Mark. I broke my brain puzzling out as much of the Greek as I did, and didn’t make it to that top line.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — October 4, 2013 @ 12:05 pm

  8. Ardis, I just talked with a good friend, Greg Roumpos (who double-checked with his father, Paul), who translates the text in the the image as follows: 2nd line: “Myth and Reality”; third line: “Of the Mystery of Mormonism”.

    Comment by Gary Bergera — October 4, 2013 @ 4:44 pm

  9. Thanks, Gary. I’ve avoided saying it all day, but what the heck — it’s all Greek to me.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — October 4, 2013 @ 5:31 pm

  10. I think news and portrayals of Mormonism preceded the missionaries in many places. It certainly did in Brazil, where I’ve found mentions of Mormons as early as the 1850s — nearly 80 years before the missionaries arrived.

    And, from what I can tell, the early Danish film, “Victim of the Mormons” (1909?) garnered worldwide distribution. It appeared in Brazil, and in places in Africa, so Greece was certainly possible.

    Comment by Kent Larsen — October 7, 2013 @ 9:03 pm

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