Thursday, August 18, 2016

Well Said: Jezebel's Real Sin

I found this fascinating. It highlights again what happens when our eyes are opened by experience and context and we then turn them upon something old and familiar only to see it in entirely new light. It is from Agatha Christie's memoir of trips to Syria with her archaeologist husband shortly before World War II, Come Tell Me How You Live.
An immense dinner materializes in next to no time, and after it, tired and comfortable, with special delicacies in honor of holiday and Mac's arrival (Turkish Delight, preserved aubergines, bars of chocolate and cigars), we sit and talk, for once of subjects other than archaeology.

We come to the question of religions generally--a very vexed question in this particular part of the world, for Syria is full of fiercely fanatical sects of all kinds, all willing to cut each other's throats for the good cause! From there we fall to discussing the story of the Good Samaritan. All the Bible and New Testament stories take on a particular reality and interest out here. They are couched in the language and ideology which we hear daily all around us, and I am often struck by the way the emphasis sometimes shifts from what one has commonly accepted. As a small instance, it came to me quite suddenly that in the story of Jezebel, it is the painting of her face the or tiring of her hair that emphasizes in puritanical Protestant surroundings what exactly a "Jezebel" stands for. But out here it is not the painting and tiring--for all virtuous women paint their faces (or tattoo them), and apply henna to their hair--it is the fact that Jezebel looked out of the window--a definitely immodest act!

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