Rutgers class looks at Springsteen's religious lyrics

Nov. 7, 2013 at 7:26 PM
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NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., Nov. 7 (UPI) -- A professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey said he is offering a class aimed at examining the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen from a theological perspective.

Azzan Yadin-Israel, an associate professor of Jewish studies and classics, said he will teach a Byrne Seminar -- a one-credit course offering an introduction to research in classes of up to 20 students -- that seeks to examine the religious references and Bible stories found in Springsteen's music, Rutgers Today reported Thursday.

"The seminar includes lyrics of songs from 'Greetings from Asbury Park, New Jersey,' Springsteen's first album, all the way through 'Wrecking Ball,' so this is clearly a broad phenomenon," Yadin-Israel said. "In some songs, Springsteen engages biblical motifs explicitly, as the titles indicate. For example, 'Adam Raised a Cain,' 'Jesus was an Only Son,' 'In the Belly of the Whale.' But concepts with biblical resonance appear throughout his works, and it's just a matter of taking the theological overtones seriously.

"The Byrne Seminars offer a relatively relaxed classroom setting, so there's no expectation that anyone will become a Springsteen scholar. I do hope the students gain an appreciation for a particular way of thinking about texts, an attentive engagement of an author's work, and an understanding of the broader contexts -- political, literary, theological, etc.-- that inform a work," he said.

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