Baldwin makes several references to the Bible in Go Tell It on the Mountain, most importantly to the story of Ham, Noah’s son who saw his father naked one day. Noah consequently cursed Ham’s son Canaan to become the servant of Noah’s other sons.
Baldwin refers to several other people and stories from the Bible, at one point alluding to the story of Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt, and drawing a parallel to that exodus and the need for a similar exodus for African-Americans out of their subservient role in which whites have kept them. John's wrestling with Elisha evokes the story of Jacob wrestling with a mysterious supernatural being in Genesis.
The rhythm and language of the story draw heavily on the language of the Bible, particularly of the King James translation. Many of the passages use the patterns of repetition identified by scholars such as Robert Alter and others as being characteristic of Biblical poetry.