Sublime's "Rivers of Babylon" and Sanitization (Videos for Teaching the Bible)

Nearly every time I mention on Twitter that I am going to be using a video in one of my classes it garners at least a little bit of interest.  So, I’m toying with the idea of starting a series on videos for teaching the Bible.  This would be meant primarily for teaching in academic settings.  If it seems like folks are interested, I’ll continue on with it since possibilities for videos to use in class are nearly endless.  But, wading through the sea of nonsense on YouTube can also be a bit tiring.

Starting the fall semester that just ended I began using a lot more video in my classroom because it seemed to work so well on the first day of one of my classes. In addition, Prezi makes incorporating video as easy as cutting and pasting a URL.  For my first presentation from last semester see HERE.

I’m starting off this (potential) series with one of the videos I used in that presentation.  It is Sublime’s cover of “Rivers of Babylon.”  I used this video because many students know or at least know of Sublime.  And, some of them were even fans (I find this a bit troubling since it makes me feel like the music I loved in high school is now “classic rock”).  So, this may pique their interest a bit.  Here’s the video:

After letting them watch the video, I then moved into a discussion of the sanitization of the Bible that sometimes takes place in a variety of settings, whether in church or when pop culture puts its hands on the Bible as well.  I began that discussion by telling them that the song is taken from Psalm 137.  I then tell them that they might not have liked the song quite as much if they knew what the rest of the Psalm said, i.e. verses 7-9 (NRSV):

7 Remember, O Lord, against the Edomites

the day of Jerusalem’s fall,

how they said, “Tear it down! Tear it down!

Down to its foundations!”

8 O daughter Babylon, you devastator!

Happy shall they be who pay you back

what you have done to us!

9 Happy shall they be who take your little ones

and dash them against the rock!

That doesn’t really make for a chilled out rock tune!

Since I used this video in the opening lecture of the semester, I then kind of spring-boarded into a discussion of the fact that studying the Bible in an academic setting was not going to be quite like the way that many of the students had possibly been accustomed to reading the Bible.  We would be looking at the entire Old Testament, or at least as much of it as we could, even if it confronted us with difficult questions and potentially new ways of reading.


  • How do you like Prezi? Do you post your vids there? Can you show one here? I’d be interested.

    • Scott,
      I love Prezi. It works best with YouTube videos. I’ll do a post in just a sec where I embed one of the Prezis on the blog.

  • Every time you post, birds drop out of the sky. Dead.

    • Idk. Those birds are dying much closer to your hometown, I think. And you do post often enough to kill that many birds, not me.

  • A bird falls out of the sky dead for every impure thought one of you had about your roommate at SBL in Atlanta!

    (I am a prophet and God told me this so clearly it is true)

    • Scott, I’m going to have to stone you to death now. Such is the penalty for false prophecy.

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