Bob Dylan: Who Died On The Cross Anyway?

By Larry Fyffe

Not unlike that of Christianity, there’s the Gnostic view that Jesus be a spirit split off from the far off Monad.

Jesus, not of the flesh, is able to inhabit the physical bodies of actual human beings –  like He does with that of the Libyan Simon on the way to the crucifixion.  Simon’s horribly executed on the cross, but Christ of course feels neither pain nor suffers death; in fact, so the story goes, Jesus laughs to Himself because of the cruel joke He’s played on His followers and on His enemies alike; the oh-so-alive “Son of God” then surprises His disciples by visiting them after He is supposed to be dead.

Another legend has it that Jesus is indeed of the flesh, but He conspires with others to have Simon compelled to take His place on the cross; then sails off to sea somewhere with Mary Magdalene:

And as they led Him away
They laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian
Coming out of the country
And on him they laid the cross
That he might bear it after Jesus
(St. Luke 23: 26)

Such a tale of so miraculous an escape apparently inspires the following song lyrics:

Standing on the waters, casting your bread
While the eyes of the idol with the iron head are glowing
Distant ships sailing into the mist
You were born with a snake in both of your fists
While a hurricane was blowing
Freedom just around the corner for you
But with truth so far off, what good will it do
(Bob Dylan: Jokerman)

The songwriter above takes on the persona of the Jokerman:

Dance to the nightingale tune
Birds fly high by the light of the moon
Ooooohoh, Jokerman
(Bob Dylan: Jokerman)

With lines inspired by:

There's a long, long trail a-winding
Into the land of my dreams
Where the nightingales are singing
And the white moon beams
(There's A Long, Long Trail A-Winding ~ Elliot/King)

In the following song lyrics, it looks like the narrator thereof is going off to see whether or not Jesus is indeed an everlasting Gnostic spirit whom he suspects has encased Himself in the reincarnated body of Simon the Cyrenian; living now in Libya with His spirit-partner Mary Magdalene. One thing is for sure – Mary has lots of oil to rub on His feet:

Well, I'm going off to Libya
There's a guy I gotta see
He's been living there three years now
In an oil refinery
(Bob Dylan: Got My Mind Made Up ~ Dylan/Petty)

Which brings up the possible allegories in ‘Lily, Rosemary, And The Jack Of Hearts’. If two-timing Big Jim is Solomon therein, then he’s confronted by Jehovah, the Jack Of Hearts (JOH) who punishes the wayward King of the diamond mines by breaking up the  United Kingdom of Israel – Lily symbolizes southern Judea, and Rosemary, northern Samaria.

Lily and Rosemary end up united only in their unhappiness with Big Jim:

I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys ....
I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved,
That ye tell him that I am sick of love
(Song Of Solomon 2:1; 5: 8)

If the Jack Of Hearts is instead considered to be a Christian-like combination of Jehovah/Jesus, He must be a timeless spirit. As it is claimed by the Gnostics, since otherwise the Song of Solomon allegory does not work – it’s written long before Jesus is said to be born in a manger.

In the song lyrics below, it seems that Lily cares little for the prospects of a re-united kingdom, and decides instead that she likes the Son of God’s curls (especially now that they’re sparkling with stolen gold dust) more than she loves her Father who turned against the King of Diamonds:

She  was thinking about her father, who she very rarely saw
Thinking about Rosemary, and thinking about the law
But most of all she was thinking 'bout the Jack Of Hearts
(Bob Dylan: Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts)

Turns out lusty Lily is just another manifestation of the Gnostic spirit that also inhabits the physical bodies of Jungian Mary Magdalene archetypes; they are always running off with adventure-seeking, shape-shifting Jokermen, whereupon they always end up in quite a pickle:

Hot chili peppers in the blistering sun
Dust on my face, and my cape
Me and Magdalena on the run
I think this time we shall escape
(Bob Dylan: Romance In Durango )

Meanwhile elsewhere

There are details of some of our more recent articles listed on our home page.  You’ll also find, at the top of the page, and index to some of our series established over the years.

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