The Bible and Bob Marley is First Book Written on Marley as Biblical Interpreter

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The Bible and Bob Marley: Half the Story Has Never Been Told, by Dean MacNeil, is the first book to explore how Marley interprets the bible in his lyrics.

Author Dean MacNeil knows from experience that Bob Marley’s music carries a life-affirming, transformative message. "His music helped me and my family endure the loss of my sixteen-year old brother Scott, who was killed in a car crash," said MacNeil. This experience led MacNeil on a quest to uncover the source of Marley’s message, resulting in his new book, The Bible and Bob Marley: Half the Story Has Never Been Told. The product of over twenty years of research, it is the first book to explain how Marley interprets the Bible in his lyrics.

"This is quite simply a wonderful piece of innovative scholarship," said Daniel Smith-Christopher, Professor of Old Testament, Loyola Marymount University. "Marley’s many followers will surely be impressed with how seriously his words are treated in this book."

"This lucid and well-researched book is a salutary example of careful and sympathetic theological engagement of an important figure in popular culture by a musician-cum-biblical scholar who knows and loves his subject," said J. Richard Middleton, Professor of Biblical Worldview and Exegesis, Northeastern Seminary.

The book focuses on the parts of the Bible that Marley quotes most often in his lyrics, and provides background information on each song and biblical quotation. It explains how Marley is not merely quoting biblical texts, but rather thinking deeply about them, interpreting them, and finding relevance in them for the struggles of today.

"The book offers a new perspective on Marley," stated MacNeil. "Over four hundred books have been written about Marley, not a single one devoted to the Bible until now."

The foundation of the book is a comprehensive analysis of biblical references in all of Marley’s songs. "It took a lot of effort to be this thorough, but I felt it was necessary in order to really understand Marley’s use of the Bible," said MacNeil. The book features tables and graphs summarizing the author’s findings.

One of the book’s principal findings is that Marley relies on wisdom, namely Proverbs and certain Psalms, more than any other type of biblical literature. "Marley is a wisdom teacher," stated MacNeil. "This aspect of Marley is as relevant today as it was in his heyday, if not more so. His words of wisdom, many of them biblically oriented, circulate daily on social media. He recently reached the top 10 on Billboard’s Social 50 chart, which ranks the most popular artists on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others."

MacNeil hopes the book will help Marley fans better appreciate his thought and his art, and offer those interested in the Bible a unique learning approach. "Examining the Bible through the lens of Bob Marley is an interesting way to learn about the Bible and about how to draw life lessons from the Bible as Marley did," said MacNeil. "I’m an example of someone who has incorporated ideas from scripture into my life via the intermediary of Marley. I don’t know how my family and I could have made it through the death of my brother without the music of Bob Marley."

To learn more about the book, visit or

The Bible and Bob Marley: Half the Story Has Never Been Told
by Dean MacNeil
Cascade Books / Wipf and Stock Publishers
ISBN-13: 978-1625640345

Available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle eBook (, directly from the publisher, or by ordering from your local bookstore.

About the Author:

Dean MacNeil holds an MA in theology from Loyola Marymount University and a BA in English Literature from the University of Michigan. His interests lie in the intersection of music and theology. MacNeil has worked in the music industry for two decades and is a lifelong musician. He lives in Los Angeles, where he has served in young adult and music ministries.

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