Bruce Springsteen’s lyrics have always been peppered with spiritual imagery, be it the nuns in “Vatican Halls… screaming immaculate conception” or his referencing those looking for a “reason to believe.” Springsteen, who was born in a Roman Catholic household, has explored themes of faith, redemption, and uses biblical themes often in his music.
Now, a professor at New Jersey’s Rutgers University is exploring the theological context of Springsteen’s songs.
The course “Bruce Springsteen’s Theology” is open to first-year Rutgers students for one credit. It will explore the themes of the Freehold, NJ native’s music from his first album,Greetings From Asbury Park, all the way up to his current latest release, “Wrecking Ball.”
Listed under the Jewish Studies curriculum, the 10-week class will dissect “Springsteen’s reinterpretation of biblical motifs, the possibility of redemption by earthly means (women, cars, music), and his interweaving of secular and sacred elements,” reads a course description.
Professor Azzan Yadin-Israel, a scholar of ancient rabbinic literature and a long-time Springsteen fan, was inspired to introduce the course after he published an article about an Israeli band that examined theological themes in their songs.
In an interview with Rutgers Today, he further explained that “the most dominant motifs are redemption — crossing the desert and entering the Promised Land — and the sanctity of the everyday. Springsteen tries to drag the power of religious symbols that are usually relegated to some transcendent reality into our lived world. In his later albums, he also writes very openly about faith.”
Although only 20 students were selected for the course, Yadin-Israel plans to publish his findings in a forthcoming book.
- This article first appeared on THR.com