U2 Biblical references

There's a nice column at @U2 this week on the background of the Drawing Their Fish In The Sand guide to U2 Bible references. I thought I might comment on my own history with this resource since I've never told the story.

It was fall 2001 when I first found Drawing Their Fish In The Sand through a citation in an article by Sarah Hinlicky; at that time I had only recently discovered the existence of the U2 community on the internet. I had never quite approached U2 lyrics from that direction (their "Biblical imagination," to use a buzzword, was obvious, but since I live in a pretty Biblical-allusion-saturated universe myself without needing to cite chapter and verse, the idea of bothering to cite them in U2's case had never come to mind.) The list impressed me quite a bit. However, noticing a few Scripture quotations that were missing ("Only in you I'm complete" from "Gloria" was the absent Pauline clincher), I emailed, in a self-consciously unsectarian tone, to ask if submissions were welcome. Upon receiving a lovely reply from Angela Pancella, I decided "no point going half measures"; I went through all my CDs and jotted down a list of both quotes and clear allusions, then looked up the actual verse references to pair with them. (I've since noticed some I missed: "empty as a vacant lot for any spirit to haunt," for example.)

Before sending the list, I went over it trying to imagine that I was a person who liked U2, but didn't read the Bible and would be unable to conceive of living with its language in my head all day. Which entries might such a person think were just "reading into it" because s/he lacked the background to recognize the connection? Using that criterion I cut, no joke, about a third of what I had, and emailed the rest of the list to Angela. (When they went up they were attributed to "Rev. Beth," which is something no one in the world had ever called me before but comically now keeps turning up as a form of address among U2 fans.)

Looking back on the intervening years of many more emails with Angela (and others), and this blog, and Get Up Off Your Knees itself, that all seems like a really long time ago. At any rate, even if you're only slightly interested in the history of the @U2 archive of U2 Biblical references, you should read the column for its last paragraph (which I'm sure will make many fans say "...what workers? what vineyard?")

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