Challenging traditional readings of Abraham Lincoln, this article investigates his public use of the Bible before he became President of the United States. The rhetorical tropes of covenant, purification, sacrifice and rebirth illuminate a previously under-appreciated dimension of Lincoln's
Biblical oratory. A close study of those themes reveals a consistently radical and polarizing Lincoln from his early speeches (Lyceum and Temperance) to his late pre-Presidential ones (Peoria and House Divided). At the heart of this unity was an uncompromisingly moral vision of the Union.
The article concludes with some reflections on the enduring importance of > the Bible in the American tradition, and the place of redemptive violence in political life.