Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Jude as a Rapper?

During the recent 7th Birmingham Colloquium of New Testament Textual Criticism, my friend Simon Crisp shared a secret with me. He had recently composed and performed a rap based on Jude (a subject of my interest) in a meeting of UBS Europe Middle East Translation Consultants in 2010. This original performance (the "Ausgangsrap") may be floating around somewhere on Youtube (I haven't found it yet, but here is a nice picture of the author).

In 1997, Lauri Thurén wrote an article with the title "Hey Jude" alluding to the classic Beatles tune. The article itself was not supposed to be performed but Thurén did propose that “Jude is … clearly designed to be read out aloud before an audience” (“Hey Jude! Asking for the Original Situation and Message of a Catholic Epistle”, New Testament Studies 43 [1997]: 454).

Simon Crisp therefore concludes in the introduction to his rap that "the present exercise might be regarded as a justifiable extension of the original intention of the letter." The more detailed relations between Simon's translation and the Greek text he documented in footnotes. However, with Simon's permission I publish it below without them. If anyone is interested in the full version with footnotes it can be downloaded under TC files for a few days:
Jude as a Rapper?

Listen up dudes – this is Jude! I’m JC’s man, I’m Jacob’s bro!

Our Father God loves you real good

You’re called and kept by Jesus Christ

May mercy, peace and love be yours right up to here!

I had in mind to write you, dudes,

About the freedom we all share

But first I had to make it clear

That being a believer means you sometimes have to fight!

Some people have sneaked up on us

(this was their fate from long ago)

These mockers make a mockery of God’s mercy

And they deny JC our lord and master.

I must remind you even if you know

That though our people once were saved from Egypt

They still got zapped because they didn’t believe.

Angels who didn’t keep their proper places

Were sent to hell and kept in chains and darkness

Until the great day of God’s judgement came.

Now Sodom and Gomorrah and their cities

Were just as bad as them – and kinky too

The fire of hell was where they ended up.

These people are the same – it’s like they’re dreamers

They treat their bodies bad, they diss their bosses

They even shake their finger at the angels.

Archangel Michael – man, now he was different

He had a fight about old Moses’ body

But didn’t dare to hurl insults at Satan

Instead he left the whole thing to the Lord.

But these don’t even know what they are dissing

They live and die just like wild animals.

Remember Cain? Well, they did just the same thing

Remember Balaam? Same thing there as well

Remember Korach? Yes, they blew it too.

They are the ones who spoil all your good parties

They got no fear or shame – just scoff the lot;

Clouds without water, trees without fruit and dead,

Throwing up filth and dirt like stormy waves

Like stars in the wrong place, heading for darkness.

Old Enoch (seventh from Adam) he said this:

I saw the Lord with thousands of his angels

He came to give a real hard time to sinners

For all the bad things that they did and said.

They’re always moaning, grumbling and complaining

They’re set on always doing what they want

They shoot off from their mouth at every moment

But they like to sweet talk every time it suits!

Dudes! Don’t forget the words of our great leaders

The ones who serve our good Lord Jesus Christ:

“Before the world ends there will be some mockers

Who do their own thing, making fun of God”.

These are the ones who go off on their own way

They’re all for pleasure now, and not God’s Spirit.

But you – your faith is holy, build it strong

Keep up your prayers, rely on God’s own Spirit

God loves you all, so you can be secure

His mercy lasts for ever – don’t give up!

JC will always see you through OK.

Some people wobble, and they need your kindness

Others you need to pull out of the fire

Be well afraid! It’s really not so easy

To help someone and not fall down yourself.

JC can keep you safe and sound for ever

And when he comes in triumph you’ll be there,

Jumping for joy and with your head held high.

So give our God who saves us all the glory

JC will help us say just what we mean:

God’s powerful, mighty, strong and lives for ever

And so our praise to Him will never end!


  1. John C. Poirier4/06/2011 2:09 pm

    By an interesting coincidence with your remarks about Thuren's "Hey Jude" article, last night I attended a presentation by AnneMarie Luijendijk at the University of Cincinnati, which she concluded by singing "Let It Be". The words of that song line up in an interesting way with her research on an Egyptian Christian *sortes sanctorum* text entitled "the gospel of the lots of Mary the mother of Jesus".

  2. I would have loved to hear AnneMarie singing "Let it Be."

  3. Andrew Wilson4/07/2011 6:02 am

    Rap is a useful art-form, primarily because it allows non-poetical people to have a go.

    Teaching RI in some primary school classes, I had to do a lesson on Psalm 8 recently (which is not easily reduced to my preferred story-telling format), and I tried out a rap version, which was pretty well received, although maybe it was because of the shock value of seeing me wearing a baseball cap (backwards) and sunglasses. I got half of the kids to do a percussion background beat, and the other half to repeat the words. I was really just trying to fill in a bit of time, but here it is:

    O Lord our God, how great You are!
    You made the sun, the moon and stars.
    Why should you care for puny man?
    The people you made (in Your great plan),
    to rule the world, to care for the earth -
    the sheep, the cows, the fish and the birds.
    O Lord our God, how great You are!

  4. So Tommy, will you included this in the next edition of your book?:)