A.A. History Brief: The Bible in the Big Book

Dr. Robert H. Smith was the cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous. He is affectionately called “Dr. Bob” by many AAs.

Dr. Bob had much to say about the Bible in his talks with and to the more than 5,000 alcoholics he helped in Akron, where A.A. was founded. Perhaps the most important thing he said about Alcoholics Anonymous and the Bible was that the basic ideas for the Twelve Steps of A.A. came from the study and effort in the Bible by the early AAs. Dr. Bob particularly emphasized the importance of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), the Book of James, and 1 Corinthians 13. These remarks were made in Dr. Bob’s last major speech to AAs at Detroit in 1948. They are contained in the A.A. General Service Conference-approved pamphlet, The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (Item # P-53).

Today, decades after the founding of A.A. in 1935, even the fourth edition of Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book (2001), the basic text of A.A., affectionately called the “Big Book,” still contains a great many direct quotes from the King James Version of the Bible that the early AAs did use and study.

Referring to Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed. (NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 2001), we point the reader to the following direct quotes in the A.A. Big Book and in the Bible verses from which these words and phrases were taken:

“God”: There are more than 200 references in the Big Book to the word “God” with a capital “G.” And see Genesis 1:1

“Creator”: The word “Creator” can be found in Ecclesiastes 12:1; Isaiah 40:28; 43:15; Romans 1:25; and 1 Peter 4:19. The same capitalized word “Creator” can be found on the following pages of the Big Book: 13, 25, 28, 56, 68, 72, 75, 76, 80, 83, 158, 161.

“Maker”: The word “Maker” can be found in Psalm 95:6, and in the Big Book at pages 57 and 63.

“Father”: The word “Father” can be found in Matthew 5:45, and in the Big Book at page 62.

“Father of Light”: This phrase “Father of Light” is rendered “Father of lights” in James 1:17, and can be found in the Big Book at page 14.

“Spirit”: The word “Spirit” can be found in John 4:24, and in the Big Book at page 84.

“Heavenly Father”: This phrase “Heavenly Father” can be found in Matthew 6:32, and in the last line of Dr. Bob’s personal story on page 181 of the Big Book.

“God is”: This statement can be found in Hebrews 11:6. Page 53 of the Big Book states
“God either is, or He isn’t.”

“Thy will be done”: In a prayer given by Jesus, the phrase “Thy will be done” can be found in Matthew 6:10; and the phrase is quoted in Big Book at pages 67 and 88.

“Thy will (not mine) be done”: Luke 22:42 states: “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” The Big Book uses this expression at page 85.

“Love thy neighbor as thyself”: This command can be found in Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 19:19; 22:39; Mark 12:31; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14; and James 2:8. It is quoted in the Big Book at page 153.

“Faith without works is dead”: This comes from James 2:20, 26; and it is quoted in the Big Book at pages 76 and 88, and referred to on page 14.

There are many other biblical words, expressions, and slogans in the Big Book that relate to Bible words and phrases; and these are discussed in my definitive title cited below. Other A.A. General Service Conference-approved books and pamphlets contain additional biblical words and phrases.


Dick B., The Good Book and the Big Book: A.A.’s Roots in the Bible, Bridge Builders ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications. Inc., 1997), 49-53, 81-91