Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Bible Stories: Jesus Met The Woman At The Well

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Jesus Met The Woman At The Well


For some of the best music referring to the Christian faith (not always uncritically), Nick Cave is the man. Here he covered a popular gospel traditional, which appeared on his 1986 album of covers, Kicking Against The Pricks (the LP’s title itself is a Bible reference, from Acts 26:14).

“Jesus Met The Woman At The Well” abbreviates the high noon encounter in Samaria from John’s gospel. The song takes the bit where Jesus reads her mind regarding her five ex-husbands and the current live-in lover, and she’s so impressed by this that she identifies Jesus as “the prophet”.

Here’s how St John describes the conversation: “Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come back.’ The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You are right in saying, “I have no husband”; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!’ Touché, Jesus.

The idea of the story is that Jesus not only approaches a social outcast, which was rather frowned upon (but, being in Samaria, which was hostile to Jews, he was an outcast as well), but that she in turn could be “healed” from what she evidently acknowledges as her sins. That was a new way of doing things at a time when women such as the one at the well were more likely to be stoned to death than to be counseled.

Nick Cave would like that, I suspect. He rejects organised religion, and doesn’t call himself religious, but he says that “I do reserve the right to believe in the possibility of a god”.

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