Jeffrey sent an extract from Wendel both to Crosstalk and
While I would agree that honour and shame are important
factors in understanding 1st C attitudes in the Graeco-Roman
world and elsewhere, I am not sure that this is the whole
story. The extract cited mentions "magnanimity" to which I
would also add "clemency". To get a better balance on this
I think these items need to be given a bit more of a role.
If Graeco-Roman rulers sometimes practiced such virtues, where
does that fit in? Also is the mercy shown by a deity sometimes
construed in a similar way? (Though I am well aware that there
were plenty of acts attributed to Graeco-Roman deities which
were far from being untinged by vengeance.)
In other words I think that the extract tends to imply that
NT ideas of forgiveness are more at odds with the surrounding
culture than might be the case. Both Sirach, and examples of
clemency by rulers suggest that the story is a bit more complex.
We can find forgiveness in other 1st C contexts. We can also, it
seems, find vengeful motifs even in the NT, or at least passages
which appear to be such.
Or have I misconstrued the argument in the extract?
David Mealand, University of Edinburgh
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