Lincoln's miniature Bible : performing sacred history in the Gettysburg Address

Title: Lincoln's miniature Bible : performing sacred history in the Gettysburg Address
Author: Smith, Jeff
Source document: Brno studies in English. 2019, vol. 45, iss. 1, pp. [171]-189
  • ISSN
    0524-6881 (print)
    1805-0867 (online)
Type: Article
License: Not specified license

Notice: These citations are automatically created and might not follow citation rules properly.

Analysts of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address have noted its reliance on religious and liturgical language and motifs, but have not fully recognized the intricate way in which is mimics the Bible, replicating the "U-shape" of "type" and "antitype" that Northrop Frye and others have identified as the structuring principle of Christian Scripture. Elaborating this schema with remarkable care, Lincoln in effect re-creates sacred or "salvation" history in miniature, casting the ephemeral words and event of the moment as the focal point of human destiny. The resulting dialectical tension, which counterposes the fleeting or disposable to the profoundly important, refutes – but was also carried forward – in the popular legend that the address was hastily written on the back of an envelope. In other instructive ways, too, it helped to generate the mythic meanings that Americans have attached both to the address and to Lincoln himself.
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