By A. E. Elmore
While it has long been determined that Abraham Lincoln’s writings were influenced by the King James Bible, until now no full-length study has shown the precise ways in which the Gettysburg Address uses its specific language. Refuting the view that the address was crafted with traditional classical references, this revealing investigation provides a new way to think about the speech and the man who wrote it. A. E. Elmore offers chapter and verse evidence from the Bible as well as specific examples from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer to illustrate how Lincoln borrowed from these sources to imbue his speech with meanings that would resonate with his listeners. He cites every significant word and phrase—conceived, brought forth, struggled, remaining, consecrate, dedicate, hallow, devotion, new birth, to name a few—borrowed by Lincoln from these two religious texts for use in his dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery.
Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address focuses on a number of overlooked themes and ideas, such as the importance of literary allusion and the general public’s knowledge of the Bible in the age of Lincoln. It provides fresh answers to old questions and poses new questions: Was Lincoln a common thief who made use of words from previously published materials as well as from works by his contemporaries? Was he a genius whose literary and political skills were unmatched? No one who reads this highly engaging study will ever think about Lincoln or the Gettysburg Address the same way again.
About the Author
A former trial lawyer and professor of law and literature, A. E. Elmore (1938–2016) contributed essays to a number of books, including American Fiction: Form and Function and The Vanderbilt Tradition, among others.
ISBN 978-0809335602, Southern Illinois University Press, © 2017, Paperback, 280 pages, End Notes, Works Cited & Index. $22.50. To purchase this book click HERE.