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Bob Dylan’s spiritual biography’s explanation of ‘God-talk’

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan

Nothing is quite so shocking as finding out something new about somebody you thought you understood.

Millions of Americans have grown up with the work of Bob Dylan and have followed his evolution over time, from the iconic folk and protest icon who defined the spirit of the 1960s, to the gospel singer of the 1970s and the Nobel prize winner and poet, painter and artist of today.

Entire college classes are dedicated to interpreting Dylan’s output.

Yet debate continues to surround the faith of Bob Dylan, a man of Jewish descent whose public embrace of Jesus Christ as Messiah shocked the American cultural elite.

Now, a new book, “Bob Dylan: A Spiritual Life,” provides the definitive answer, describing the spiritual journey of one of the most dominant figures in American culture of the last century.

The book is the number one new release in the category of “Philosopher Biographies” at Amazon.com and boasts unanimous five star reviews from readers.

The Hollywood Reporter recently interviewed author Scott Marshall on the importance of his book.

“As it turns out, it’s tough to ignore the impact of Dylan’s Jewish roots and the impact that Jesus has had on Dylan – they’re both a part of his story,” Marshall told the publication. “He just turned 76, seemingly past retirement age, but he’s still on the road and in the studio. And last October there was plenty of controversy when he won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Trust me when I say it’s a similar situation going on when it comes to his spiritual journey over the decades: plenty of intriguing stories, competing voices, humor, conflict. Dylan sings and speaks when he feels like it. When he feels like going silent, he does that.”

The mainstream media share the author’s opinion about the importance of his subject and is eagerly debating and discussing the book which all future scholars will have to reckon with. Scott Marshall’s interview on the importance of Bob Dylan’s faith to his work was covered by Billboard, among others.

Serious analysts of American religion also believe the book shows how any Dylan fan, even the most secular, must grapple with the issue of Dylan’s faith. Terry Mattingly, editor of GetReligion.org and senior fellow for Media and Religion at The King’s College in New York City, wrote in his “On Faith” column:

“Marshall believes one thing should be obvious: If Dylanologists want to understand Dylan’s life and art, they will have to wrestle with all of his songs, including those drenched in God-talk. Biblical literacy is an essential skill in that work. The bottom line is clear, according to Hollywood director Scott Derrickson, writing in the book’s foreword: ‘Dylan has never recanted a single line from a single song.’”

And The New York Post says Glenn Beck is among those recommending the book.

“Dylan is a fascinating man who has taken a fascinating journey,” Beck told the newspaper.

The incredible spiritual journey of an American icon. You’ll never look at American pop culture – or Christianity – the same way again. Discover the unbelievable true story behind one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. “Bob Dylan: The Spiritual Life” is available now at the WND Superstore.

The conservative leaning publication Hollywood In Toto proclaimed:

“‘A Spiritual Life’ captures Bob Dylan’s faith journey in a way which should intrigue longtime fans of all denominations. Few books boast contributors from a former president, Alice Cooper, Marvel director Scott Derrickson and a scribe from The Nation… Marshall interviews a variety of sources in the singer’s mercurial orbit, including President Jimmy Carter. He lets them all share how Dylan’s faith journey impacts his art and humanity…

“Dylan is the opposite of an open book, and famously say. Yet Marshall rallies enough material to support the theory that he remains one of music’s most soulful troubadours.”

Finally, the debate over Bob Dylan’s faith and his Jewish background and identity has also created discussion with the Jewish community. Jerry Singer writes in The Forward, a Jewish newspaper, about how “Marshall’s book promises to analyze Dylan’s famously mercurial relationship to religion, which he said involves, ‘plenty of intriguing stories, competing voices, humor [and] conflict.’”

For this Jewish publication, the question of Dylan’s religious and ethnic identity is especially important.

“So is the artist formerly known as Shabtai Zisl ben Avraham one of our own, or not?” Singer asks.

The answer is that Bob Dylan is both. Knowing about Bob Dylan’s spiritual journey is important for Christians because the example of Dylan helps illustrate the Jewish roots of Christianity and the increasing importance of the Messianic community.

BobDylanSpiritualLife

As Joseph Farah, founder of WND and author of “The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians and the End of the Age,” put it: “Does Bob Dylan, as a Jew, need to become a ‘Christian?’ Or does he just need to follow his Messiah? I would suggest it’s the latter. And I would suggest that’s just what Bob Dylan did. He didn’t have to join the ‘Christian culture.’ He didn’t have to renounce Judaism, because Jesus and all His disciples sure didn’t.”

As quoted in The Hollywood Reporter, Marshall makes much the same point.

“For Dylan [Christianity] seems more about the figure of Jesus than the following of an organized religion,” the author said. “Dylan’s own Jewish roots cannot be denied, whether it’s the revolutionary figure of Jesus in the first century or Dylan’s childhood in Minnesota in the 1940s and 1950s, or his naturally slipping into synagogues as an adult. Dylan appears to be a child of God, not tethered to any religion for religion’s sake, but trying to pursue the Truth, clay feet and all.”

The same could be said of many believers, all struggling to understand the true meaning of Messiah and how best to form a relationship with God, observers point out.

“Bob Dylan: A Spiritual Life” is not just a remarkable examination of an important American cultural figure. It contains spiritual lessons for all Christians and anyone else who is searching for a connection with the divine.

The incredible spiritual journey of an American icon. You’ll never look at American pop culture – or Christianity – the same way again. Discover the unbelievable true story behind one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. “Bob Dylan: The Spiritual Life” is available now at the WND Superstore.

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