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Abraham Lincoln and the Bible

Abraham Lincoln and the Bible

A Complete Compendium

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Gordon Leidner


E-book (Other formats: Paperback)
16 illustrations


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About the Book

Lincoln’s life and leadership through the lens of the Bible
How did Abraham Lincoln’s lifelong study of scripture influence him as a man and, ultimately, as president? Historian Gordon Leidner believes the impact was profound—more than previously recognized—and has investigated all the known writings of Abraham Lincoln to identify, catalog, and study every instance in which Lincoln quoted from or alluded to the Bible. Rather than dwelling on the never-ending debate about Lincoln’s religious beliefs, Leidner shows how scripture affected Lincoln personally, professionally, and politically.
Leidner offers first a short biography that focuses on Lincoln’s use of the Bible, how it shaped him as a person, how its influence changed over time, and how biblical quotations peppered his letters, speeches, and conversations. The book concludes with an unparalleled appendix that tabulates nearly 200 instances of Lincoln’s quoting from or alluding to scripture, giving locators for the Bible and Roy P. Basler’s nine volume Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln and quotations from both sources. The appendix also includes when and where Lincoln used each quote, providing valuable context, whether the use was in personal letters such as one to Queen Victoria after the death of Prince Albert, political speeches such as the Gettysburg Address, or state addresses such as the Second Inaugural Address.
By showcasing Lincoln’s specific biblical references and influences, Leidner reframes the question of Lincoln’s religious beliefs so that readers may evaluate for themselves what solace and guidance the Bible afforded the sixteenth president.


Gordon Leidner is the author or editor of seven books on Abraham Lincoln, including Conversations with Lincoln: Little-Known Stories from Those Who Met America's 16th President and Lincoln on God and Country. He is a board member of the Abraham Lincoln Institute and a past president of the Lincoln Group of D.C. He also maintains the Great American History website.


“Gordon Leidner’s exceptionally thorough, careful analysis of the sixteenth president’s many biblical references, both direct and indirect, shows how profoundly affected Abraham Lincoln was by scripture and how that helped make him such a successful political leader. This book is a most welcome contribution to the Lincoln literature.”—Michael Burlingame, author of Abraham Lincoln: A Life
“Leidner’s exhaustively researched biography offers a fresh, fascinating, and compelling account of how the Bible uniquely influenced Lincoln’s thinking, writing, and leadership. It belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in Lincoln, U.S. politics, or the Bible’s influence in American life.”—Candy Gunther Brown, author of The Word in the World: Evangelical Writing, Publishing, and Reading in America, 17891880
“By narrating Lincoln's life with a focus on how he quoted the Bible—also when and under what circumstances—Leidner makes a vital contribution to never-ending debates over the character of Lincoln's faith. The book excels for its specificity and its detail, but also for its caution.”—Mark A. Noll, author of America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln

“Through his painstaking scrutiny of Lincoln’s spoken and written words, Gordon Leidner has produced a unique documentary record of Lincoln’s use of the Bible. Identifying almost two hundred biblical allusions, including many previously overlooked, he presents a political leader whose language during a time of acute political crisis derived particular moral power from being saturated with the scriptures.”—Richard Carwardine, author of Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power
“Abraham Lincoln's political rhetoric drew heavily from the Bible. Thanks to Gordon Leidner, we now have a guide to these scriptural references. I will keep this book close to my desk and turn to it often in my own research and writing.”—John Fea, author of Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction
Abraham Lincoln and the Bible is the definitive account of the influence of the most significant book in American history upon the greatest president in American history.”—Timothy Larsen, author of A People of One Book: The Bible and the Victorians
“Gordon Leidner has written a fascinating account of Abraham Lincoln's relationship with the Bible. By revealing Lincoln's personal interactions with the scriptures, Leidner shows the many ways that the Bible influenced and inspired Lincoln's thinking. Even readers who have been studying Lincoln for years will find new insights in this deeply researched and well-crafted biography.”—Jonathan W. White, author of A House Built By Slaves: African American Visitors to the Lincoln White House