In his book, A Testimony Founded For Ever, The King James Bible Defended in Faith and History, James H. Sightler, M.D. writes a little unrecognized fact about Lincoln’s use of the KJV language in his Gettysburg Address.
“To illustrate the influence of the “archaic” but elevated and memorable language of the KJV on our civilization we need only examine the Gettysburg Address of Lincoln, who educated himself by firelight, largely by reading the King James Bible. He wrote his address on a train enroute to Gettysburg, in a relatively short time, on a scrap of paper. It came from his heart, in which the word had been hidden, and is filled with Biblical words and phrases. Its language, like that of the Bible, archaic for its day but elevated, was precisely for that reason worth committing to memory, as so many of us did in high school.”
The following words he used from the KJV are underlined along with the number of times that word is used from the Bible.
“Fourscore and seven years [used once] ago our fathers [79 times] brought forth [74 times] on this continent a new nation, conceived in [1 time] liberty, and dedicated [1 time] to the proposition that all men are created [2 times] equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, [7 times in 7 verses] or any nation [3 times in 3 verses] so conceived [46 times in 45 verses] so dedicated, can long endure. [29 times in 28 verses] We are met [One time in Psalm 85:10, mercy and truth are met together.] on a great battlefield of that war. [3 times in 3 verses] We have come here to dedicate [4 times in 4 verses] a portion [23 times in 23 verses] of that field [3 times in 3 verses] as a final resting place [3 times in 3 verses] for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. [4 verses in 4 verses] It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate- we cannot consecrate- we cannot hallow- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled [Once in Gen. 25:22, Rebekah’s twins struggled] here have consecrated [14 times in 14 verses] it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget [2 times in 2 verses- I will never forget thy precepts- Psm. 118: 93] what they did here. It is for us, the living, [97 times in 90 verses] rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion, that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; [55 times in 48 verses] that this nation, [4 times in 4 verses] under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government [4 times in 4 verses, Isaiah 9: 6, and the government shall be upon his shoulders] of the people,[204 times in 109 verses] for the people, [44 times in 44 verses] shall not perish [2 times in 2 verses, Psalms 9: 18, Jeremiah 18:18] from the earth”
The word “hallow” is in the KJV but not in the NIV or NASB. “Are met” and “Fourscore and seven” and “struggled” each occur only once in the KJV. 61 words out of a total of 267 are underlined, almost one in four. Many non Biblical substitutions might have been made but were not. The influence of the KJV is clearly there.
Reference: A Testimony Founded For Ever The King James Bible Defended in Faith and History. SIGHTLER PUBLICATIONS 25 SWEETBRIAR ROAD, SUITE 1A GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA 29615.
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