Webb Garrison in Strange Facts About the Bible, notes the influence the Bible on one important American author: “James Fenimore Cooper, author of the famous Leatherstocking series that constituted the first cycle of successful novels about the American frontier, had no personal knowledge of exploration and Indian fighting. A prosperous country gentleman who tried his hand at fiction in response to a chance challenge by his wife, Cooper found many of the ingredients for his action-packed stories in the book he read more often than any other—the Bible.

“He was especially interested in the poetic and prophetic sections of the Old Testament, plus the New Testament books of Hebrews and Revelation. After experimenting with a variety of patterns of reading, he and his wife settled upon a plan that the followed for many years. Each morning they sat down together and read one hundred verses of Scripture before eating breakfast.

“One of the founders of the American Bible Society, Cooper was as full of action as some of the fictional characters he created. Editors of many religious journals attacked him because he opposed the practice of kneeling in public. When newspapers smeared him for his criticism of American culture, he filed a number of libel suits and won most of them. During the period of his most bitter controversy he completed two of his best-known books, The Pathfinder (1840) and The Deerslayer (1841). Though he never went so far as to call himself a modern David fighting against Goliath, notes in his journals suggest that he saw himself in that role.

“Hundreds of biblical allusions appear in his tales about Indians and frontiersmen. One character in The Last of the Mohicans, Gamut, rode a mare that bore the name of Moses’ sister Miriam. Gamut is so obviously based on King David, traditional author of the psalms, that Cooper openly labels him as ‘an instructor in the art of Psalmody.’”

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