I was blinded by the devil, Born already ruined,
Stone-cold dead as I stepped out of the womb.
By His grace I have been touched, By His word I have been healed,
By His hand I’ve been delivered, By His spirit I’ve been sealed.
I’ve been saved by the blood of the lamb …
— Lyrics to “Saved” by Bob Dylan
It’s amazing to me how Bob Dylan’s faith is still so misunderstood. Thirty-seven years after he wrote and recorded the words above, I still hear people talking about this superstar songwriter’s spiritual beliefs as if there is some ambiguity about them.
Maybe, some suggest, Dylan went through a Christian “phase” in which he wrote and recorded dozens of fiery gospel songs and then moved on to other pursuits.
Yet, only those who have not really followed his career since could possibility come to such a conclusion, because those songs have continued to be part of his performance repertoire for the last four decades, during which he has continued to produce dozens of new songs that leave little doubt about where he stands.
That’s why I was so excited more than a year ago to read the manuscript for “Bob Dylan: A Spiritual Life” by Scott M. Marshall, one of the newest releases by WND Books.
As an admitted Dylan-phile, it had been a source of frustration for me for years that while there are many enigmatic qualities to America’s troubadour, there has been a rock-solid consistency to his publicly expressed view of God and man since 1979 when he released – to the shock of many of his fans – his “Slow Train Coming” album along with one of his biggest hit songs ever, “You Gotta Serve Somebody.”
And it was true, as the author of the new spiritual biography on Dylan shows, before that album. Dylan was searching for truth. Just look at the lyrics of one of my favorite, and shortest, Dylan songs before his “Christian period.” It’s called “Father of Night,” and he recorded it in 1970.
Father of night, Father of day
Father, who taketh the darkness away
Father, who teacheth the bird to fly
Builder of rainbows up in the sky
Father of loneliness and pain
Father of love and Father of rain
Father of day, Father of night
Father of black, Father of white
Father, who build the mountain so high
Who shapeth the cloud up in the sky
Father of time, Father of dreams
Father, who turneth the rivers and streams
Father of grain, Father of wheat
Father of cold and Father of heat
Father of air and Father of trees
Who dwells in our hearts and our memories
Father of minutes, Father of days
Father of whom we most solemnly praise
Dylan has written some of the most touching and powerful hymns of the 20th and 21st centuries – and people still don’t understand him.
Here’s the key to unraveling the mystery, in my opinion: Dylan was, is and always will be, a Jew. That’s the way he was born. He was, in the tradition of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, circumcised. He studied Hebrew so he could be bar mitzvahed. And, of course, he never renounced his Jewishness, nor did he need to.
Want to better understand Joseph Farah? Get his new book, a spiritual manifesto on the Hebrew roots of the Christian faith – “The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians and the End of the Age.”
That’s because Jesus was and is the Jewish Messiah. All of Jesus’ original disciples remained, throughout their entire lives, Jews. Some of them, including Simon Peter, were surprised to learn fairly late in their lives that this messianic faith they followed could be shared with non-Jews. All of the early “Christians” were Jews. And they were only “Christians” in the literal sense of that Greek term – which means followers of Messiah.
I have to admit that even I had doubts about Dylan’s spiritual journey back in 1983 when he saw his son, Jesse, bar mitzvahed in Jerusalem. At the time, many speculated that Dylan had “gone back” to Judaism.
It was only years later, as I studied the Jewish roots of my own Christian faith, that I realized this was a perfectly natural and appropriate thing for a messianic Jew to do. No Jew needs to embrace the “Christian” traditions and culture to follow their Messiah. In fact, I’ve come to believe those traditions and that culture can actually be a barrier and stumbling block for non-Jews who seek to follow the Jewish Messiah. They certainly were for me.
This is, in fact, the essence of my latest book,“The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians and the End of the Age.” Christians and non-Christians alike are often confused by church traditions and the essential gospel message that brings all people – Jew and gentile alike – to the saving blood of the Lamb.
While he doesn’t like to give many interviews and he doesn’t seem entirely comfortable speaking publicly, I’m convinced Bob Dylan gets it.
Scott Marshall has done an amazing job comprehensively tracing Dylan’s performances, albums and interviews through the decades and showing there is a consistency in his devotion to God and His Son that cannot be denied. If you’re a Dylan-phile like me, you will find this book hard to put down. You will be surprised at how Dylan was treated by the church. And you will be appalled at the way he was treated by his fans when he embraced Messiah.
There are few musical superstars who rival Bob Dylan – as a songwriter, in fame, in longevity, in influence. This new spiritual biography will help you appreciate him even more.
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