After last week’s exploration in the comments section of the fashion concerns surrounding wearing white while beheading someone, I stumbled across this other depiction of Judith.
It just goes to show that a smattering of blood can really make a statement in an otherwise drab ensemble. The delicate splatters on the arms show that she was involved in the chopping, but just enough to accent - not so much as to get any icky gore stuck anywhere, as that would be gauche. And I would note that the servant lady-man looks at least as intense now that the head is in hand as s/he did during the act.
This discovery was more than another take on the Judith story, however. It is featured on the website Christian Image Source, which features a plethora of “free Christian images to use in almost any way you wish.” That seemed like too good an offer to pass up.
There are many categories of images listed, but the one that caught my eye was “Women of the Bible.” Because other Bible images are very masculine, and so the discerning lady looking for Biblical art inspiration on characters to emulate would want a separate, one-stop shop. So let’s take a look!
I have to confess that I did not remember who “Lydia” was, beyond a vague impression that she was a character in the film “Beetlejuice.” It turns out that in the Book of Acts, a woman named Lydia was so inspired by the words of Paul, that she invited him and his pals to her house to stay. What puzzles me here is that the only other description of this lady seems to be that she was “a seller of purple fabrics,” which is a detail that would have been easily indicated given the quantity of drapery in her house and on her person. I am left to assume that she had a rule against using her own product.
Anyway, here she is, inviting the viewer in with an expression that does not strike me as entirely pure and pious, if you get my drift.
Moving on, we turn to Jephthah’s daughter, a woman of the bible so important that she doesn’t get a name of her own.
The story goes that Jephthah makes a vow to God that if he wins a particular battle, then the first thing that comes out of his house to greet him afterwards, he will burn as an offering to The Lord. Because nothing could go wrong with that kind of vow. Lo and behold, he wins the battle, and when he gets home his daughter comes out to greet him, so he murders – I mean, sacrifices her. That’s it for Jephthah’s daughter in terms of story. I am not sure how that is reflected in this image. Is that how she came out to greet her father after battle? In which case, there might be other issues at hand. Maybe her name was Electra?
Right, let’s go back to the New Testament, where surely purity must abound.
Ahh, the woman at the well. This is one of the most memorable stories in the Bible for me because of a lecture I attended at a prominent Divinity school, and I am not making this up, where the guest lecturer went on for at least 20 minutes on the topic of why the story of the Samaritan Woman at the Well was about a sexual proposition.
“Jesus says he would give her LIVING WATER,” the lecturer observed. “This is CLEARLY HIS SEMEN.” Watching respected Biblical scholars attempt to reason with this man was one of the most entertaining incidents of my academic life, because his response to every comment was “She says that the WELL IS DEEP. But he has NO BUCKET.”
Anyway, nice cleavage, Samaritan lady.
Ok, fine. The Samaritan lady is supposed to be a bit risqué, with her long list of past or present sugar daddies. Surely someone like a widow, mourning the death of her only son, will be a paragon of weeping and modest dishevelment.
|The Widow of Nain|
Oh, come ON.
How about Mary Magdalene, arguably one of the most important of Christ’s followers?
So basically, what we have learned is that to many more modern artists, all of the ladies of the Bible are sexy vixens with mean come-hither looks. Perhaps women looking at these images are supposed to be inspired? Or male viewers are meant to “appreciate” the women of the Bible more? I know the site says the images can be used "in almost any way you wish," but there are some uses I just don't want to associate with Biblical contemplation. Anyway, I can’t wait to see how tantalizing they make Delilah, one of the greatest seductresses of the Old Testament…