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Bob Marley and the Bible

Bob Marley has done more for God than most people know, he sang about the Bible and praised Jah every day, in every way. Bob Marley made it cool to love reggae and God, so much so, that there’s not one gangster, pimp, or prostitute alive that hasn’t enjoyed a song or two. You will never find a publican or bar owner who won’t play Bob Marley and know people ask to play his songs. Academics too and tech nerds also, from military personnel to skate board riders and everyone in between, loves Bob Marley.

With a Bible and guitar, Bob Marley set out to conquer the world of popular music. Rising from humble origins to international stardom, he worked tirelessly to spread a dual message of resistance and redemption-a message inspired by his reading of scripture. Marley’s constant reliance on the Bible throughout the stages of his artistic and spiritual paths is an integral part of his story that has not been sufficiently told-until now. This is the first book written on Bob Marley as biblical interpreter. It answers the question, What light does biblical scholarship shed on Marley’s interpretation, and what can Marley teach biblical scholars? Focusing on the parts of the Bible that Marley quotes most often in his lyrics, MacNeil provides a close analysis of Marley’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. From: The Bible and Bob Marley

Awards and Honors

  • 1976: Rolling Stone Band of the Year
  • June 1978: Awarded the Peace Medal of the Third World from the United Nations.
  • February 1981: Awarded the Jamaican Order of Merit, then the nation’s third highest honour.
  • March 1994: Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
  • 1999: Album of the Century for Exodus by Time Magazine.
  • February 2001: A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
  • February 2001: Awarded Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • 2004: Rolling Stone ranked him No. 11 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
  • 2004: Among the first inductees into the UK Music Hall of Fame “One Love” named song of the millennium by BBC. Voted as one of the greatest lyricists of all time by a BBC poll.
  • 2006: A blue plaque was unveiled at his first UK residence in Ridgmount Gardens, London, dedicated to him by the Nubian Jak Community Trust and supported by Her Majesty’s Foreign Office.
  • 2010: Catch a Fire inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame (Reggae Album)

A statue was inaugurated, next to the national stadium on Arthur Wint Drive in Kingston to commemorate him. In 2006, the New York City Department of Education co-named a portion of Church Avenue from Remsen Avenue to East 98th Street in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn as “Bob Marley Boulevard”. In 2008, a statue of Marley was inaugurated in Banatski Sokolac, Serbia.

Internationally, Marley’s message also continues to reverberate among various indigenous communities. For instance, the Australian Aboriginal people continue to burn a sacred flame to honour his memory in Sydney’s Victoria Park, while members of the Native American Hopi and Havasupai tribes revere his work. There are also many tributes to Bob Marley throughout India, including restaurants, hotels, and cultural festivals.

Marley evolved into a global symbol, which has been endlessly merchandised through a variety of mediums. In light of this, author Dave Thompson in his book Reggae and Caribbean Music, laments what he perceives to be the commercialised pacification of Marley’s more militant edge, stating:

Bob Marley ranks among both the most popular and the most misunderstood figures in modern culture … That the machine has utterly emasculated Marley is beyond doubt. Gone from the public record is the ghetto kid who dreamed of Che Guevara and the Black Panthers, and pinned their posters up in the Wailers Soul Shack record store; who believed in freedom; and the fighting which it necessitated, and dressed the part on an early album sleeve; whose heroes were James Brown and Muhammad Ali; whose God was Ras Tafari and whose sacrament was marijuana. Instead, the Bob Marley who surveys his kingdom today is smiling benevolence, a shining sun, a waving palm tree, and a string of hits which tumble out of polite radio like candy from a gumball machine. Of course it has assured his immortality. But it has also demeaned him beyond recognition. Bob Marley was worth far more.

Dave Thompson in his book Reggae and Caribbean Music

Bob Marley and the Bible is reason to listen and lighten-up your heart, learn the lyrics and lift your spirits as we forward in this generation, triumphantly.

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