Bob Dylan As Timothy

By Larry Fyffe

Why it’s plausible to construe that the narrator in “Red River Shore” takes on the role of a modernized Elijah, wrapped in a cloak of misery, is because the narrator of another song, “SlowTrain Coming”, without him being named, can be considered the persona of the apostle-like Timothy of the New Testament.

Both Elijah and Timothy are true-believers who are frustrated by their inability to convert the unworthy.

According to the Bible, Timothy’s persuaded to stay in a city inhabited mostly by Diana worshippers though he is reluctant to do so; to remain, and teach nonbelievers and self-proclaimed Christians how of find the pure path to their true Savior Jesus:

For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind
For manstealers, for liars, for prejured persons
And if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine
(I Timothy 1:10)

Echoed by the modernized Timothy in the song lyics below:

Big- time negotiators, false healers, and woman haters
Masters of the bluff,  and masters of the proposition
But the enemy I see wears a cloak of decency
All non-believers and manstealers, talking in the name of religion
(Bob Dylan: Slow Train Coming)

This transformed Timothy walks around the streets of cities in America, the New Babylon:

All that foreign oil, controlling Ameican soil
Look around you, it's bound to make you embarrassed
Shieks walking around like kings, wearing fancy jewels and nose rings
(Bob Dylan: Slow Train Coming)

Claimed it be that biblical Timothy gets stoned to death for attempting to halt a parade in honour of the goddess Diana (led by a priest named Anka?).

Apparently, our modern-day Timothy ignores advice that the best thing to do is  leave town before he too gets stoned:

I had a girl down in Alabama
She was a backwoods girl, but she sure was realistic
She's said, "Boy without a doubt
Have to quit your mess, and strighten out"
You could die down here, be just another accident statistic
(Bob Dylan: Slow Train)

Still sinful he be; messes around with the medicine in the basement without strictly following the ‘sound doctrine’.



  1. Left alone by his mentor companion in a sin-filled city, biblical Tim gets hounded not only by sex-oriented pagans but by God-fearing Hebrews as well.

    In any event, Timothy finds himslf punished for a time because of some transgression:

    Know that our brother Timothy is set at liberty
    With whom, if he come shortly, I will see you
    (Hebrews 13: 23)

  2. Stay tuned for the next thrilling episode (Part II) of the adventures of Timothy: he encounters the Encratists – you won’t want to miss it!

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