Biblical Allusions

Slaughter of the Innocents

In chapter two, Tom manipulates Ben Rogers into whitewashing Aunt Polly’s fence for him. Twain comments that while Ben “worked and sweated in the sun, the retired artist [Tom] sat on a barrel in the shade close by, dangled his legs, munched his apple, and planned the slaughter of more innocents.” MATTHEW 2:1-18 gives an […]


Lincoln quotes Jesus from MATTHEW 18 : 7, “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh” (KJV). The same sentiment can be found in LUKE 17 : 1.

Judge Not

After clarifying his belief that the God of the Bible disapproves of the practice of human slavery, Lincoln urges, “but let us judge not, that we be not judged.” He alludes here to one of the most referred to and perhaps least understood verses in the entire Bible, MATTHEW 7 : 1.


In chapter 11, Douglass speaks of his friend, Mr. Nathan Johnson, “of whom I can say with a grateful heart, ‘I was hungry, and he gave me meat; I was thirsty, and he gave me drink; I was a stranger, and he took me in.’” Douglass alludes to Jesus’ words in MATTHEW 25:35.


In this tribute to Charlotte Brontë, Dickinson speaks of Charlotte’s travels and return home to Haworth, commenting that Gethsemene could attest to her anguish. Gethsemene is the garden on the Mount of Olives where Jesus went with his disciples to pray after their observance of the Lord’s Supper, and where He was subsequently betrayed by […]