U2 and the Bible comment

I suppose anybody who both listens to U2 and reads the Bible has the experience of hearing something read in Scripture and suddenly associating it with a U2 lyric. This happened to me in a prayer group this morning when someone read Job 5:18 - For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.

When I was suggesting Scripture citations for @U2's "Drawing their fish in the sand" back in 2001, I knew something needed to be cited for the end of "Exit" ("Saw the hands that build can also pull down/ The hands of love,") but I wasn't all that committed to the verses I actually submitted (Jer 1:10 and 31:28). Even though the language there was quite close to the lyric (closer than the Job 5 language, other than the "also" and the link to "healing hands" earlier in U2's text,) I thought the Jeremiah context just had the wrong vibe for it to be the only direct source. The dark, "What kind of God is this?" vibe of Job, shadowed by death, is much closer to the vibe of "Exit." (Although I have an idiosyncratic reading of "Exit," I don't think my idiosyncracies affect that point.)

So do I want to point to Job 5:17 instead? Not really, because that alone doesn't do the job either. This is a great illustration of how it's often unfruitful to try and claim U2 are quoting particular Bible verses, rather than generally using language that is shaped by Scriptural turns of phrase and by a Biblical worldview. When I think of that line in "Exit," I want Job and Jeremiah... and probably several other verses I haven't yet noticed that lay out the experience of a human grappling with God's frightening freedom and with the uncontrollable mix of good and evil in our world. In other words, I want art and not prooftexting.

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