[St. Pachomius Library]

Robert Nesta Marley

XX Century
Jamaica's famous Rastafarian poet and reggae musician spent most of his career on the fringes of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church as a member of various syncretistic religious groups. Only on his deathbed, at the insistence of his Orthodox wife Rita, did he finally consent to baptism. Nevetheless, and in spite of numerous falls into wild and dissolute behaviour in the course of his life as a pop star, Marley is in my view a true Orthodox artist, both in that whatever is true and beautiful is Orthodox and in that his whole life was a journey toward the Orthodox Church and out of bondage to the passions. The remark of Mortimer Planno, one of the syncretist religious leaders whom Marley followed, that the musician was a "rude boy slowly transformed" is entirely accurate. Bob Marley's music is a testimonial to his "unseen warfare" (or, to use the Iyaric term, his "nyabinghi"), and the lyrics of many of his songs are pervaded with a deep and traditionally Orthodox Christian spirituality.

Norman Hugh Redington


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