By Larry Fyffe
The narrative of the last days of Jesus is at first rather literal, and linear. Having been betrayed by Judas, Jesus is crucified; He vanishes from the tomb, and pays a visit to a number of his followers, apparently to celebrate a ‘Passover’ meal with them:
And it came to pass, as He sat at meat with them
He took bread, and blessed it, and brake
And gave it to them
(St. Luke: 24:30)
Below, the time-line of the narrative shifts a bit, becomes more symbolic, rather ‘gnostic’- like. In the following biblical verses, Jesus is not yet betrayed:
Now before the feast of the Passover …
And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart
Of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him
(St. John 13: 1,2)
There’s time for the coming crucifixion of Christ to be celebrated at a ‘Passover’ supper. But it’s the ‘Lamb of God’ that’s symbolically eaten rather than an actual sacrificed lamb – bread representing His body, and wine, His blood. Jewish tradition is upheld even as it’s abandoned. Jesus, instead of being born in Time, is presented as eternally everlasting existing from the very beginning – like God. Jesus can separate from God, take on human form, and then return to re-unite with the Almighty One.
Even the thought of drinking animal (let alone human) blood has no place in Jewish tradition.
Sarcasm drips from the following song lyrics by a singer/songwriter brought up in a Jewish family:
Mona tried to tell me To stay away from the train line She said that all the railroad men Just drink up your blood like wine (Bob Dylan: Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again)
More to the point are the lyrics below:
Never could learn to drink that blood And call it wine Never could hold you, love And call you mine (Bob Dylan: Tight ConnectionTo My Heart
Jesus is offered some wine mixed with a painkiller before he’s nailed to the cross, but He refuses to drink it:
And they gave Him to drink Wine mingled with myrrh But He received it not (Matthew 15: 23)
In the songs lyrics below, the narrator snarls at a religion that focused on the sacrafice of a human being, a Jewish rabbi at that:
Someone must have slipped a drug in your wine You slurped it down, and you crossed the line Man can't live on bread alone I pay in blood, but not my own (Bob Dylan: Pay In Blood)
The metaphor ‘Lamb of God” is used by a preRomantc poet:
And did those feet in ancient times Walk on England's mountains green And was the holy Lamb of God On England's pleasant pastures seen? (William Blake: Jerusalem)
Irony abounds, and the answer to the above question is likely, ‘No!’; the “Satanic mills” mentioned in the same poem could well represent the established church.
Untold Dylan: who we are what we do
Untold Dylan is written by people who want to write for Untold Dylan. It is simply a forum for those interested in the work of the most famous, influential and recognised popular musician and poet of our era, to read about, listen to and express their thoughts on, his lyrics and music.
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You’ll find some notes about our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page of this site. You can also see details of our main sections on this site at the top of this page under the picture. Not every index is complete but I do my best.
But what is complete is our index to all the 604 Dylan compositions and co-compositions that we have found, on the A to Z page. I’m proud of that; no one else has that many songs with that much information. Elsewhere the songs are indexed by theme and by the date of composition. See for example Bob Dylan year by year.
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