I can't believe that an hour and a half after my posting, I picked up my
Phipps book (MARK TWAIN'S RELIGION). I had searched this before--nothing in
the index under "Philemon"--but this time opened to a "Presbyterian"
reference. Phipps says that "the Langdons probably introduced MT to the
writings of Albert Barnes, the main leader of the New School Presbyterians
and an ardent abolitionist." He then points out that MT had in his library
a 10 volume set of Barnes commentaries and implies that MT surely new of the
Philemon. I suspect that Phipps prabably has come as close as we'll get to
the Philemon Epistle possibly inspiring the Huck Finn letter? By the way,
my home church is the First Presbyterian, the oldest church in Elmira and
the one from which the Langdons escaped because they would not officially
renounce slavery (and went to the Congregational church later ministered by
Tom Beecher). Just for the record, our church no longer tolerates slavery.