Wisdom a “Wailin’” and a “Steppin’” at the Street Corners of Trench Town


  • Johnny Miles Texas Christian University


Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Wisdom, Rasta identity, poor man's wealth, Proverbs 10:15, 21


Reggae artists Bob Marley and Peter Tosh advocated Rasta resistance to the downpression system of “Babylon” in their appropriation of Proverbs 10:15, 21, in their respective songs “Wisdom” (and the later revised “Stiff-Necked Fools”) and “Fools Die (For Want of Wisdom).” This article’s reception history approach has two integrated foci. First, it analyses these reggae songs in relation to the stated proverbs whereby to discern Marley’s and Tosh’s identification of who are the wealthy, the poor, the wise, and the fool. Second, it brings to bear on its analyses those socioeconomical, biblical-hermeneutical, and ideological influences upon each musician’s appropriation of both proverbs, all the while keeping them in conversation with each other. The article’s conclusions reveal a recontextualized Wisdom in the unlikely form of two Rastas who promoted a countercultural message of faith livity in Jah and a wisdom consciousness of identity as African and divine.


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