‘What these cryptic symbols mean’: quotation, allusion, and John Darnielle’s biblical interpretation

Adam, A.K.M. (2011) ‘What these cryptic symbols mean’: quotation, allusion, and John Darnielle’s biblical interpretation. Biblical Interpretation, 19(2), pp. 109-128. (doi: 10.1163/156851511X557325)



Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/156851511X557325


The Mountain Goats' repertoire of biblically-themed songs displays a salutary resistance to oversimplifying dichotomies. Their catalogue defies the imperative to fit into the "Christian rock"-vs.- mainstream "secular rock" market niches while at the same time it does not fit conveniently into the biblical-critical world's fascination with characterising certain interpretive methods as "legitimate" and others as "illegitimate." The Mountain Goats' songs don't challenge these dichotomies head-on, but they demonstrate the allusive richness available to an interpreter freed from rigid obeisance to these idols of the market and the library. Whereas in many popular interpretations, the Bible figures as an oracular repository of sacred law, or as a textbook of science and metaphysics, or a sourcebook for general spirituality, the Mountain Goats' biblical songs draw on the Bible as an all-too-human expression of how the world is (and will be), even when the appearances suggest otherwise. In cultivating a wide range of songs that reflects the Bible's characteristic underdetermination, the Mountain Goats make the moral and theological ambivalence of the Bible audible again without resolving that ambivalence into consoling or deplorable platitudes, theological dogmas or historical facts.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Adam, Dr A K M
Authors: Adam, A.K.M.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Journal Name:Biblical Interpretation
ISSN (Online):1568-5152
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2011 Brill
First Published:First published in Biblical Interpretation 19(2):109-128
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record