Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

From Judah to Jamaica: The Psalms in Rastafari Reggae

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

image of Religion and the Arts

Abstract Rastafari reggae bears a profound but problematic relation to the Judeo-Christian biblical texts, particularly the Psalms. Involving multiple religious and cultural transmissions, orders of intertextuality, the adaptation of Judaic psalms into reggae songs clearly constitutes some form of appropriation, an act of reinterpretation that has religious, political, cultural, and ethnic implications. This analysis aims to reconcile conflicting narratives explicating this relation and reinterpretation, approving the creative adaptation of biblical texts while resisting a trend in some of the prominent Rastafari scholarship to diminish or denigrate the Judaic experience out of which those texts originate. Rather than a form of “hijacking”—a favored metaphor in the recent secondary literature—the appropriation and transformation of the Psalms into Rastafari reggae is better understood as a tribute to the enduring power, relevance, and appeal of the biblical texts. The two forms of religious art enrich and reinforce one another, representing original and ongoing traditions of words and music as revolutionary cultural resistance and spiritual empowerment.

Affiliations: 1: University of Alaska Fairbanks


Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

1. Ackroyd Peter Davies , Finkelstein "“The Jewish Community in Palestine in the Persian Period.”" 130 161
2. Alvarez Luis "“Reggae Rhythms in Dignity’s Diaspora: Globalization, Indigenous Identity, and the Circulation of Cultural Struggle.”" Popular Music and Society 2008 Vol 31 5 575 597
3. Barrett Leonard The Rastafarians 1997 Boston Beacon Press With a New Afterword
4. Bickerman Elias J. Davies , Finkelstein "“The Diaspora: B.The Babylonian Captivity.”" 342 357
5. Blech Benjamin Eyewitness to Jewish History 2004 Hoboken NJ Wiley and Sons
6. Baron Salo A Social and Religious History of the Jews 1952 3rd ed New York Columbia University Press
7. "“Bob Marley.”" Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2012 Apr. 26 Web.< >.
8. Burkett Walter Babylon, Memphis, Persepolis: Eastern Contexts of Greek Culture 2004 Cambridge MA Harvard University Press
9. Chevannes Barry Rastafari: Roots and Ideology 1994 Syracuse NY Syracuse University Press
10. Chude-Sokei Louis "“Post-Nationalist Geographies: Rasta, Ragga, and Reinventing Africa.”" African Arts 1994 Autumn Vol 27 4 80 84
11. Cliff Jimmy The Harder They Come: Original Soundtrack Recording 1972 Mango/Island Records CD
12. Dadamayev M. "“The Diaspora: A.Babylonia in the Persian Age.”" 326 342 Davies and Finkelstein
13. Davies W. D. , Finkelstein Louis The Cambridge History of Judaism 1984 Cambridge Cambridge University Press
14. Daynes Sarah "“The Musical Construction of the Diaspora: The Case of Reggae and Rastafari.”" 25 41 Whiteley, Bennett, and Hawkins
15. Dubnov Simon History of the Jews from the Beginning to Early Christianity 1967 4th ed South Brunswick NJ T. Yoseloff
16. Goodman Martin The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Studies 2002 Oxford Oxford University Press
17. Henke James Marley Legend: An Illustrated Life of Bob Marley 2006 San Francisco Chronicle Books With audio disk “Marley Speaks.„
18. Luther Martin The Babylonian Captivity of the Church 2012 Apr. 26 Web.
19. Marley Bob One Love: The Very Best of Bob Marley & the Wailers 2001 Tuff Gong/UTV Records/Island Def Jam Music Group (CD), Hal Leonard Music (Sheet music/lyrics)
20. Murrell Nathaniel , Spencer William D. , McFarlane Adrian A. Chanting Down Babylon: The Rastafari Reader 1998 Philadelphia Temple University Press
21. Murrell Nathaniel , Spencer William D. , McFarlane Adrian A. "“Introduction: The Rastafari Phenomenon.”" 1 19 Murrell, Spencer, McFarlane
22. Murrell Nathaniel , Spencer William D. , McFarlane Adrian A. "“Tuning Hebrew Psalms to Reggae Rhythms: Rastas’ Revolutionary Lamentations for Social Change.”" Cross Currents 2000–2001 Winter Vol 50 4
23. Murrell Nathaniel , Spencer William D. , McFarlane Adrian A. , Williams Levin "“The Black Biblical Hermeneutics of Rastafari.”" 326 348 Murrell, Spencer, McFarlane
24. Nettleford Rex "“Discourse on Rastafarian Reality.”" 312 325 Murrell, Spencer, McFarlane
25. Owens Joseph Dread: The Rastafarians of Jamaica 1976 Kingston Sangster
26. "“ Rolling Stone500 Greatest Albums of All Time.”" 2012 Apr. 26 Web
27. Steffens Roger "“Bob Marley: Rasta Warrior.”" 253 265 Murrell, Spencer, McFarlane
28. Tanakh: A New Translation of the Holy Scriptures According to the Traditional Hebrew Text. 1985 Jewish Publication Society
29. Wanke Gunther "“Prophecy and Psalms in the Persian Period.”" 162 188 Davies and Finkelstein
30. Whiteley Sheila , Bennett Andy , Hawkins Stan Music, Space and Place: Popular Music and Cultural Identity 2004 Burlington VT Ashgate

Article metrics loading...



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Religion and the Arts — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation