Life and writings
He graduated from Bowdoin College in 1840. In 1847, at the request of Prof. Andrews Norton, he went to Cambridge, where he was principal of a public school until 1856. He was assistant librarian of Harvard University from 1856 to 1872, and planned and perfected an alphabetical card catalog, combining many of the advantages of the ordinary dictionary catalogs with the grouping of the minor topics under more general heads, which is characteristic of a systematic catalogue. From 1872 until his death he was Bussey Professor of New Testament Criticism and Interpretation in the Harvard Divinity School. 
Abbot's studies were chiefly in Oriental languages and textual criticism of the New Testament, though his work as a bibliographer showed such results as the exhaustive list of writings (5300 in all) on the doctrine of the future life, appended to W. R. Alger's History of the Doctrine of a Future Life, as it has prevailed in all Nations and Ages (1862), and published separately in 1864.
Abbot's publications, though always of the most thorough and scholarly character, were to a large extent dispersed in the pages of reviews, dictionaries, concordances, texts edited by others, Unitarian controversial treatises, etc. However, he took a more conspicuous and personal part in the preparation (with Baptist scholar Horatio Balch Hackett) of the enlarged American edition of Dr. (afterwards Sir) William Smith's Dictionary of the Bible (1867–1870), to which he contributed more than 400 articles, as well as greatly improving the bibliographical completeness of the work. He was an efficient member of the American revision committee for the Revised Version (1881–1885) of the King James Bible, and helped prepare Caspar René Gregory's Prolegomena to the revised Greek New Testament of Constantin von Tischendorf.
His principal single work, representing his scholarly method and conservative conclusions, was The Authorship of the Fourth Gospel: External Evidences (1880; 2nd ed. by J. H. Thayer, with other essays, 1889), originally a lecture. In spite of the compression due to its form, this work was up to that time probably the ablest defense, based on external evidence, of the Johannine authorship, and certainly the most complete treatment of the relation of Justin Martyr to this gospel.
- On the comparative antiquity of the Sinaitic and Vatican manuscripts of the Greek Bible .. (1872)
- A critical Greek and English concordance of the New Testament (1872) revised by Ezra Abbot
- The authorship of the Fourth Gospel: external evidences (1880)
- Ezra Abbot & J. Rendel Harris, Notes on Scriveners' "Plain introduction to the criticism of the New Testament," 3rd edition [microform] (1885)
- The authorship of the Fourth gospel & other critical essays, selected from the published papers of the late Ezra Abbot (1888)
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Abbot, Ezra". Encyclopædia Britannica. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 22. Endnote:
- See S. J. Barrows, Ezra Abbot (Cambridge, Mass., 1884).
- Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889
- Abbot, Ezra in the Christian Cyclopedia
- The historical records of Ezra Abbot are in the Andover-Harvard Theological Library at Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.