Billy Graham drew less from Old Testament as years went by, new exhibit shows

Museum of the Bible Billy Graham show

Photo: Menachem Wecker


My article “Billy Graham drew less from Old Testament as years went by, new exhibit shows” appears in Religion News Service.

Here’s the beginning:

In the 1950s, 1 in 3 verses that Billy Graham used to anchor his sermons came from Jewish Scripture known to Graham — and most Christians — as the Old Testament. With each ensuing decade, however, America’s pastor drew increasingly on the New Testament.

The decrease in Old Testament citations, said Anthony Schmidt, an associate curator at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., reflects Graham’s relative concern about the threat of communism through his career. As the Cold War was still taking shape and Graham’s anti-communism was egged on by, among others, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, Graham drew upon fire-and-brimstone Old Testament admonishments. As the Red threat dissipated, he sought biblical citations with a softer tone.

The findings are part of the museum’s new exhibition, “Pilgrim Preacher: Billy Graham, the Bible, and the Challenges of the Modern World,” which Schmidt curated.

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