Friday, October 14, 2005

Reinventing Jezebel

Fortress Press, the publishing house of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, has announced the publication of The Jezebel Letters, which "combines top-notch biblical scholarship with a fictionalized first-person account of the biblical character." According to the Fortress press release, the book "transforms the stereotype of the notorious biblical queen into a more historically based portrayal of a powerful, literate royal woman."

How is she "transformed"? Well, in this reading, Jezebel is the protagonist. According to a Hebrew and Old Testament professor at the University of Amsterdam, the book uses "fictional but not fictitious letters and memoirs written by the ancient Queen herself," allowing us to "reverse our "cultural opinion of 'Jezebel' and see her for what she probably was: a regal, wise, politically active wife, mother and queen in Israel."
(From Mere Comments, read the whole thing here.)

I’ve been wondering how I might be able to finance my retirement a little early. Maybe I just need to reinvent a biblical villain as a hero. Judas Iscariot has already been done; perhaps I could do a little polishing of Herod Antipas and his wife Herodias?

Herodias was he wife of Herod’s half-brother Herod Philip, and was Herod’s niece. That is no more peculiar a marriage than many you’d find on the streets of modern LA; besides, “adultery” is such a passé term anyway. Their marriage wouldn’t even make Jerry Springer. And that incident with John was just a tragic misunderstanding. Herodias’ daughter Salome didn’t say “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist,” she said “Give me the bread of John the Baptist.” After all, John was an honored guest in Herod’s palace (the dungeon business is just a teenage slander), and Salome was just playing a typical teenager’s joke. Unfortunately, Herod had had a few too many beers and just didn't hear right.

Jesus (who we all know was just a guy who never intended to found a religion) would have gone scot free if he’d just been willing to do a few tricks for Herod. And I could really play up the relationship between Herod and the equally misunderstood Pontius Pilate. I bet I could even work a couple of gay scenes into it – that should sell books! I think I have the basis of a winner here!

Seriously, I am amazed by the willingness of so many to make bad things good and good things bad. The sheer willfulness of it is flabbergasting, to redefine good to match our selves and to vilify anything that might hold us to account I guess it is good practice for when the antichrist shows up.