Saturday, August 18, 2018

Springsteen and the Scriptures

In my first post I jokingly referenced two Bruce Springsteen songs; in the second I encouraged you to read the Bible more. Today I thought I’d take a look at how reading the Bible more can help you catch references in Springsteen’s songs that you would otherwise miss. What can I say…I make strange connections on Monday mornings before that second cup of coffee.

In that post about the Bible I said that not knowing anything at all about the Bible makes it impossible to fully understand Shakespeare, Dante, or Michelangelo (to name only a few) since all three owe the Bible a debt for their content. The same is true of some of Springsteen’s best songs. Consider these examples:

Adam, Cain, and Abel:
Adam Raised a Cain
“In the Bible Cain slew Abel
and East of Eden he was cast
You’re born into this life paying
for the sins of somebody else’s past
Adam raised a Cain”

The Price You Pay
“Little girl down on the strand
With that pretty little baby in your hands
Do you remember the story of the promised land
How he crossed the desert sands
And could not enter the chosen land
On the banks of the river he stayed
To face the price you pay”

Swallowed Up (In the Belly of a Whale)
“I fell asleep on a dark and starlit sea
With nothing but the cloak of God’s mercy over me
I come upon strange earth and a great black cave
I dreamt I awoke as if buried in my grave
We’ve been swallowed up”

Jesus, Gideon, Saul, and Abraham:
Heaven’s Wall
There was a woman waiting at the well
Drawing water ‘neath the desert sky blue
She said, “He’ll heal the blind, raise the dead, cure the sickness out of you”
Come on men of Gideon
Come on men of Saul
Come on sons of Abraham
Waiting outside heaven’s wall

Noah and Jesus:
Rocky Ground
“Forty days and nights of rain washed this land
Jesus said the money changers, in this temple will not stand”

Jesus, Mary, and David:
Jesus Was An Only Son
“Jesus was an only son
As he walked up Calvary Hill
His mother Mary walking beside him
In the path where his blood spilled
Jesus was an only son
In the hills of Nazareth
As he lay reading the Psalms of David
At his mother’s feet
In the garden at Gethsemane
He prayed for the life he’d never live,
He beseeched his Heavenly Father to remove
The cup of death from his lips”

That’s a fair number of references spanning a 45-year career, and there are more. But I want to make one thing clear: I am not saying Bruce is evangelizing here. His most famous album was not called “Born Again in the USA.” Still, he clearly knows at least something of the Bible, or these references would never have made their way into his songs. So if you won’t take my advice on reading the Bible, then take it from Bruce. He is the Boss, after all (even if he does think that Eve actually tempted Adam with a Pink Cadillac).

Note: Just in case you would like to look these references up for yourself, I have included the passage or Bible book where you can find them below:

Adam Raised a Cain:  Genesis chapter 4, verses 8-16
The Price You Pay: Numbers chapter 20, verses 1-12 and Deuteronomy chapter 34, verses 1-5
Swallowed Up (In the Belly of a Whale): Jonah, chapters 1 and 2
Heaven’s Wall: John chapter 4, verses 1-30. The stories of Gideon, Saul, and Abraham are found in Judges chapters 6-8, 1st Samuel chapters 9-31, and Genesis chapters 11-25 respectively
Rocky Ground: Genesis chapters 6-9 (the Flood) and John chapter 2, verses 13-17
Jesus Was An Only Son:  Matthew chapters 26-27, Mark chapters 14-15, Luke chapters 22-23, John chapter 19, Psalms

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