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date: 20 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Americans of the Civil War era expressed considerable certainty about how biblical passages applied to the dramatic contemporary events of 1861‒1865. Clergy, laypeople, and soldiers on both sides freely divined God’s purposes in history and suggested scriptures to back up their often apocalyptic prognostications. As with the battle for the Bible in the slavery controversy, however, the standard mode of biblical exegesis for mid-nineteenth-century Protestants, common-sense realism, provided such a plethora of answers about the meaning of contemporary events that there was no clear answer. The Bible did not speak plainly. More than just about any theologian or minister, Abraham Lincoln understood that and articulated it in 1865.

Keywords: slavery, Civil War, violence, nineteenth century, providentialism, common-sense realism, Abraham Lincoln, apocalyptic

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