A God of Time and Space: New Perspectives on Bob Dylan and Religion

Volume editors:
Robert W. Kvalvaag, Geir Winje
Chapter authors:
Reidar Aasgaard, Robert W. Kvalvaag, Erling Aadland, Pål Ketil Botvar, Geir Winje, Gisle Selnes, Anders Thyrring Andersen, Petter Fiskum Myhr


This book is a collection of essays on Bob Dylan and religion. The eight scientific essays present new perspectives on the subject, aiming to elucidate the role played by religion in Bob Dylan’s artistic output and in the reception history of some of his songs.

Few would dispute the fact that religion or religious traditions and the use of religious imagery have always played an important role in Dylan’s artistry. Scholars agree that the term “religion” is ambiguous and not easy to define, and a critical attitude to the whole concept of religion is traceable in Dylan’s lyrics. However, in several interviews Dylan has also revealed a positive attitude towards religion, and explained that the source of his religiosity is in the music and in old, traditional songs.

Author Biographies

Robert W. Kvalvaag

Robert W. Kvalvaag is professor at Oslo Metropolitan University, where he teaches religious studies at the Faculty of Teacher Education and International Studies. He has published three books (in Norwegian): From Moses to Marley, The divine I, and The Eleventh Commandment: Religion and Rock and Roll. Together with Pål Ketil Botvar and Reidar Aasgaard he also edited and contributed to Bob Dylan: The Man, the Myth and the Music. The writer of numerous articles on religion and popular culture published in anthologies and journals, his output has included works on Dylan’s use of the Bible in the early songs, and a study of the influence of Hal Lindsey on Dylan’s oeuvre in the so-called Gospel period.

Geir Winje

Geir Winje is professor in the science of religion. He works at the University of South-Eastern Norway, mostly with teacher education on different levels. He does research and publishes on three main fields: didactics of religion, art and religion, and modernity and religion. Some central books: Felles, grunnleggende verdier? Menneskerettigheter og religionspluralisme i skolen (Common, basic values? Human Rights and religious pluralism in school, 2017), Guddommelig skjønnhet. Kunst i religionene (Divine Beauty. Art in the Religions, 2nd ed. 2012), Hekser og healere. Religion og spiritualitet i det moderne (Whitches and Healers. Religion and Spirituality in Modernity, 2007).

Reidar Aasgaard

Reidar Aasgaard is Professor of Intellectual History at the Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas (IFIKK), University of Oslo. He has published books and articles in English and Norwegian on the history of childhood, the New Testament, Late Antiquity, and early Christian apocrypha. He has worked as a Bible translator and translated classical texts from Greek and Latin into Norwegian. Aasgaard has also edited a volume on Bob Dylan in Norwegian (with Botvar and Kvalvaag) and since 2011 has been responsible for a popular lecture series on Dylan at History of Ideas.

Erling Aadland

Erling Aadland has published a number of books on poetry and literary theory, among them books about Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. Latest monograph: The world of Literature, an Examination of Literature’s Antinomies, Vidarforlaget: Oslo, 2019. Book about Dylan: "And the Moon Is High", Attempting to Read Bob Dylan, Ariadne: Bergen, 1998. A number of essays on Dylan, including: “Work, Performance and Performancework”, Bøygen 2/2007; “We are not there (1967)”, Agora 1–2/2007; “One Big Prison Yard”, on (in)justice in some Dylan-songs”, Bøygen 3/2008; “Dylan and Love”, in: Bob Dylan, mannen, myten og musikken, Dreyer: Oslo, 2011; “He Got the Skills and He Got the Guts, Bob Dylan’s Alternating Interaction with the Blues”, Agora 1–2/2013.

Pål Ketil Botvar

Pål Ketil Botvar gained his PhD in political science from the University of Oslo, 2009. He is professor in sociology of religion at the faculty of humanities and education, University of Agder, Norway. Botvar has been co-editor on Bob Dylan – mannen, myten og musikken (The man, the myth and the music), together with R. Aasgaard and R. W. Kvalvaag. He has also written two articles about Bob Dylan: «Med Bob Dylan som liturg», 2013 ("Bob Dylan as Officiant"), and "With God on Our Side. Bob Dylan i norsk kirkeliv", 2013 ("With God on Our Side. Bob Dylan in Norwegian church life").

Gisle Selnes

Gisle Selnes is professor in Comparative literature at the University of Bergen, Norway, where he also directs the Research group for Radical Philosophy and literature (RFL). Selnes has written numerous articles on literary, philosophical, cultural and historical issues, ranging from colonial Latin American writings to Lacanian psychoanalysis. His books include Det fjerde kontinentet. Essays om America og andre fremmede fenomener (The Fourth Continent. Essays on America and Others Strange Phenomena, 2010), on the topic of discovery, critical theory and the origins of the essay as a genre; an annotated translation of César Vallejo’s Trilce; and the voluminous Den store sangen. Kapitler av en bok om Bob Dylan (The Everlasting Song. Chapters from a Book  on Bob Dylan, 2016). In addition, Selnes has published a number of popular essays on Dylan in the press and lectured widely on Dylan’s poetics of song lyrics to an academic as well as to a more general audience.

Anders Thyrring Andersen

Anders Thyrring Andersen is Master of Arts, Comparative Literature, parish priest at Vor Frue Kirke in Aarhus, Denmark. Publications on Bob Dylan: Hvor dejlige havfruer svømmer. Om Bob Dylans digtning, Syddansk Universitetsforlag 2013; “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”, Geni og apostel. Litteratur og teologi, Anis 2006; “En fortjent Nobelpris”, Studenterkredsen no. 1, January 2019; a number of newspaper articles and appearances on National Public Radio. Has written a lot about the relationship between literature and Christianity, among other titles Polspænding. Forførelse og dialog hos Martin A. Hansen, Gyldendal 2011, and At forføre til tavshed. Søren Kierkegaard præsenteret, Dansklærerforeningen 2002. Recipient of Blicherprisen 2009 and Martin A. Hansen Prisen 2011.

Petter Fiskum Myhr

Petter Fiskum Myhr gained his cand. philol. in literature from the University of Bergen. He has worked as a journalist and editor for the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. He was the first director of Rockheim, the national museum for popular music in Norway. Since 2013 he has been the director for Trondheim International Olavsfest. Petter Fiskum Myhr has written and contributed to several books about Bob Dylan, among them: Bob Dylan – jeg er en annen, Oslo: Historie og Kultur 2011, Bob Dylan. Mannen, myten og musikken. Oslo: Dreyer Forlag, 2011 and Bob Dylan Leksikon. Oslo: Historie & Kultur, 2012.

Cover Image
November 14, 2019


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