An alien, a polytheist from Phoenicia, the biblical Queen Jezebel posed a serious threat to the stability of the Israelites' single male deity. So powerful was this threat that writers through the ages have portrayed her as the incarnation of feminine evil, and her name has become synonymous with the misogynist view of women as seductresses.
Janet Howe Gaines argues that the bride of the Israelite king Ahab became a convenient scapegoat for biblical writers who portrayed her as the primary force behind their nation's apostasy. The biblical account presents the queen as a murderer, as a disruptive force for evil. Despised, the strong-willed Jezebel is still one of the most intriguing women of the Bible.
Music in the Old Bones is a guide to the eternal Jezebel story. The first part of this illustrated study is a detailed analysis that explores the biblical tale from traditional and feminist points of view. Gaines then analyzes the ways authors through the centuries have treated Jezebel. Her unburied bones became misogynist relics for generations of writers who retold her story as a warning about the dangers of rebelling against patriarchal society. From the sermons of John Knox to the novels of Margaret Atwood, from the poetry of Percy Shelley to the ballads of Boyz II Men, from the drama of Racine to the Academy Award-winning film starring Bette Davis, Jezebel has long been the subject of artistic inquiry. Her image as the bad girl of the Bible is still useful to writers. Most exploit her name and evil reputation to enhance their admonitions to women, but a few break away from tradition and openly admire Jezebel's courage and vigor.
Placing the biblical account of Jezebel's doomed reign in the context of its xenophobic writers, Gaines proposes a new and more sympathetic reading of the murdered queen whose body was left to rot in the streets and whose reputation suffered a fate even more egregious. Rather than providing a decent burial for the mangled bones of Jezebel, Gaines seeks to flesh them out and revivify them because, as she demonstrates, "there's music in the old bones yet."