It is almost, then, as if [Bono] felt he wanted to write scripture in the process of rereading it to deliver a new psalter for his generation that combined the pathos of lament with prophetic fury to rage against (what he saw as) the injustice endemic in God’s own country. And if in this imagination Bono is the new epic biblical poet, then 1980s America is, for The Joshua Tree, biblical Israel: a chosen, special nation, led by a noble and respected leader who, tragically, only rarely managed to live up to expectations but was seduced by other priorities; a land set apart from the others by its inherent nature, afforded the opportunity to be bigger and better, but often failing in its fundamental remit; a people who were once enslaved and are now free, but still wandering through their own wilderness in the quest for their home whilst still carrying the wounds of their oppression. The Joshua Tree conceived America’s journey in forthrightly biblical language and imagery and observed that it was still a nation in the wilderness.
Back in 2008 I noted on this blog the title of an upcoming U2-related paper being presented at the Society of Biblical Literature. Recently discovered that this paper, The Bible under the Joshua Tree by Andrew Davies, is now available on the SBL website. Some well-worn comments, some new insights. Excerpt: