Dean MacNeil, “Bob Marley,” in Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception, vol. 17, ed. Dale C. Allison, Jr. et. al. (Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter), forthcoming.
Marley assumed the persona of biblical wisdom teacher as early as November 1966, when he recorded “Freedom Time.” In it, he echoes the sentiment of biblical sages (e.g. Ps 34:11; Prov 4:1, 8:32) by addressing his audience as “children.” He would continue to do so in songs like “Wisdom” (1970), “Jah Live” (1975), and “We and Dem” (1980). Marley’s wisdom stems from his experience and engagement with Scripture. He does not merely quote Scripture in his lyrics, he actively interprets it, as can be seen in the way he adapts the passages he selects.