Biden’s Big Bible Is Heavy with History, Symbolism


Experts say the second Catholic president is pointing to American tradition and deep personal roots.

Donald Trump once claimed that Joe Biden would “hurt the Bible” if he became president, but the copy of the Scripture that Biden is bringing to the inauguration looks like it might hurt you if you tried to lift it.

The book is about five inches thick, with a sturdy leather cover, and solid metal clasps holding it closed. When Jill Biden raises the book up for her husband to take his oath of office on Wednesday, she will have to use both hands.

“Why is your Bible bigger than mine? Do you have more Jesus in there?” said Stephen Colbert, the Catholic host of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, in an interview with president-elect Biden in December.

“I don’t think so,” said Biden, who is also Catholic. “It’s just been a family heirloom in the Biden side of the family, and every important date is there. Every time I’ve been sworn in for anything, the date has been in that. It’s inscribed in the Bible.”

The Biden Bible carries 127 years of family history, but experts say it’s also a significant symbol for the new president. The choice to take the oath of office on this specific text says something about what Biden believes about the United States, the presidency, Catholics in this country, and the work ahead of him as he attempts to fulfill his promise to “restore the soul of America.”

“He’s not only undergirding his oath of office with the Bible but saying it reflects the essence of who he is, and his family heritage, and his own faith,” said Robert Briggs, president and CEO of the American Bible Society.

Presidents are not required to take the oath of office on a Bible—and some haven’t. …

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