More than 400 books have allegedly been written about Robert Nesta Marley, the Caribbean’s first superstar. Recently a documentary film about Marley made the point that his rejection by the white segment of his family inspired his song “Corner Stone.”
However, according to Dean MacNeil, the author of “The Bible & Bob Marley: Half The Story Has Never Been Told” and intends to shed new light by introducing the first book written on the superstar as Biblical interpreter.
Already available on Kindle and in paperback, this latest publication boldly focuses on a major point missed in Marley’s lyric to the song “Corner stone.”
“The stone that the builder refused / Will always be the head corner stone…”
It “is a direct quotation from Psalm 118,” he said.
“The Bible and the guitar were reciprocally essential to Marley’s musical message that he spread throughout the world via relentless touring.”
He claims that Marley turned to the Bible when confronted with adversity and rejection, and found in its pages elements of his own experience.”
While this unique approach presents spiritual and lyrical explanation to the Rastafarian who emerged spectacular as a composer, artist, musician and rebel, the book also defines Bob Marley as a controversial figure and will prompt new discussion about the contribution of the revered Jamaican, reggae legend.
According to its author, a graduate of theology and music institutions, “It answers the question -- What light does Biblical scholarship shed on Marley’s interpretation, and what can Marley teach Biblical scholars?”
In the book, MacNeil focuses on the parts of the Bible that Marley quotes most often in his lyrics and provide a close analysis of the singer’s interpretation.
“For students of Marley, this affords a deeper appreciation and understanding of his thought and his art. For students of scripture, it demonstrates the nature of Marley’s unique contribution to the field of biblical interpretation, which can be appreciated as an excellent example of what R. S. Sugirtharajah calls “vernacular interpretation” of scripture,” the author said.
Introduced to reggae and Marley by his younger brother Scott who died in a car accident, Dean sought solace from the songs his brother listened to and enjoyed throughout his young life.
MacNeil who resides in California, said he was devastated after his brother died.
“Marley’s Songs of Freedom box set has never left my car stereo,” MacNeil said, “I had responded to grief by entering the classroom of Bob Marley.”
He researched Marley’s music for 20 years before writing the revealing tome.
“Marley’s words came with the authority of one who withstood tremendous hardship through constant prayer and love of God. He was a true soul survivor – of abandonment by his father, the poverty and violence of Jamaica’s Trench Town ghetto, and a politically-motivated assassination attempt on his life. Marley named his band the Wailers because “we all started out crying.”
“Everyone is a Wailer. Like the great saints, Marley reflected on the spiritual yearnings and common struggles of humanity. His answer to the human condition was, like that of Saint Paul (1 Thess 5:17), to pray unceasingly. What’s more, Marley’s music came not just with the authority of his personal experience; it came with the authority of Scripture. However, this important aspect of Marley’s life and music has not been the subject of serious analysis . . . until now.”
“It (book) explains how Marley is not merely quoting Biblical texts, but rather thinking deeply about them, interpreting them, and finding relevance in them for the struggles of today,” MacNeil added.
“I needed to prove to the readers that he (Bob) was definitely getting it (songs) from the Bible,” he said.
MacNeil hopes his book will help Marley fans appreciate his respect for the Bible.
“Examining the Bible through the lens of Bob Marley is an interesting way to learn about the Bible and about how to draw life lessons from the Bible as Marley did,” he said.
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