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RE: [XTalk] Honor and Shame question

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  • Bob Webb
    Steve, Given the prominence of this model for understanding the world of Jesus as well as the world of the New Testament, I d be interested in the results of
    Message 1 of 13 , Dec 18, 2003
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      Steve,

      Given the prominence of this model for understanding the world of Jesus as
      well as the world of the New Testament, I'd be interested in the results of
      your research, and also whether you do find significant critiques of the
      approach.

      I guess the reason for making the above request is that I am not aware of
      such critiques, so I wish you the best in your research.

      Bob Webb.


      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: Steve Black [mailto:sdblack@...]
      > Sent: Wednesday, December 17, 2003 5:16 PM
      > To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: [XTalk] Honor and Shame question
      >
      >
      > Hi all,
      >
      > I am doing some work on the "honor and shame" model being proposed by
      > Malina, Neyrey, & co. I am wondering what books, journal articles,
      > etc., folk might suggest - I am interested in getting the
      > "other side"
      > - that side which is *critical* of this approach as I have plenty
      > material on the "pro" side (although I am open to any "must reads" in
      > favor of this model - if they aren't the obvious ones that I already
      > have...)
      >
      > Thanks all in advance.
      >
      > Steve Black
      > Vancouver School of Theology
      > Vancouver, BC
      > Canada
      >
      >
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    • Richard H. Anderson
      for a critique of the honor-shame rubric look at Journal of Hebrew Scriptures - Volume 4 (2002-2003) - Review Johanna Stiebert, The Construction of Shame in
      Message 2 of 13 , Dec 18, 2003
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        for a critique of the honor-shame rubric look at
        Journal of Hebrew Scriptures - Volume 4 (2002-2003) - Review

        Johanna Stiebert, The Construction of Shame in the Hebrew Bible: The
        Prophetic Contribution (JSOTS 346; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press,
        2002), Pp. x, 196. Hardback, ISBN 1-84127-268-X. $ 95.


        ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
        ----
        The Construction of Shame in the Hebrew Bible is largely a critique of the
        honor-shame rubric borrowed by biblical scholars from Mediterranean social
        anthropology. Stiebert devotes exactly half of the book (ch. 1) to a direct
        criticism of the model's applicability, challenging examples in biblical
        scholarship. The second half of the book is an exploration of shame language
        in Isaiah (ch. 2), Jeremiah (ch. 3), and Ezekiel (ch. 4), the biblical
        literature in which such terms are most prevalent. These books provide case
        studies for continued criticism of the purported honor-shame matrix. The
        conclusion (ch. 5) summarizes evidence against the accepted paradigm and
        alternatives that this volume proposes.
        Stiebert's critique is made up of several observations to which she returns
        throughout the book. She states that biblical scholars have not listened to
        voices within the field of Mediterranean studies that question the universal
        applicability of the honor-shame matrix and the presence of any widespread
        cultural continuity (e.g., M. Herzfeld on particularization and U. Wikan
        against honor and shame as antonyms). Stiebert also joins those (e.g., D. L.
        Cairnes) who criticize the assumption that cultures are either guilt-based
        or shame-based.

        I have only included the first two paragraphs of the review. The entire
        review can be found at:
        http://collection.nlc-bnc.ca/100/201/300/journal_hebrew/reviews/2002/1202a/r
        eview069.htm

        Richard H. Anderson
      • David B. Gowler
        ... I would agree that Herzfeld and Wikan offer critiques that should be considered (Wikan s argument that shame is not exactly the opposite of honor, in my
        Message 3 of 13 , Dec 18, 2003
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          >She states that biblical scholars have not listened to
          >voices within the field of Mediterranean studies that question the universal
          >applicability of the honor-shame matrix and the presence of any widespread
          >cultural continuity (e.g., M. Herzfeld on particularization and U. Wikan
          >against honor and shame as antonyms). Stiebert also joins those (e.g., D. L.
          >Cairnes) who criticize the assumption that cultures are either guilt-based
          >or shame-based.

          I would agree that Herzfeld and Wikan offer critiques that should be considered
          (Wikan's argument that shame is not exactly the opposite of honor, in my view,
          is correct). Frank Henderson Stuart's short book Honor also should be noted.
          One of the first critics of the "Mediterranean" as a "category" was Joao de
          Pina-Cabral, "The Mediterranean as a Category of Regional Comparison: A
          Critical View," Current Anthropology 30 (1989) 399-406. It is also clear, to
          me at least, that the "shame-based" (with no "introspective conscience") and
          "guilt-based" distinction is vastly oversimplified and often not helpful.

          I would argue that such "cultural scripts" have heuristic value, but are not
          useful at all if they become an interpretive matrix imposed on texts like a
          strait jacket. Any use of such cultural scripts, I think, should be based on a
          careful reading of primary texts. What I have found, since beginning this in
          the 1980's, was that issues such as honor, shame, purity/miasma, and so forth,
          are indeed critically important to ancient texts (ranging from Sophocles,
          Suetonius, Plutarch, Josephus, Chaereas and Callirhoe, the NT, etc.) but show
          differing manifestations. Malina, Neyrey, and others deserve great credit for
          at least bringing to the fore the problems of anachronism and ethnocentrism in
          our reading of the NT

          Good luck with your work.

          With every good wish,
          David

          ************************************************
          Dr. David B. Gowler
          Oxford College of Emory University
          Pierce Professor of Religion; Associate Professor
          http://www.emory.edu/OXFORD/pierceprogram/Pierce.html
          http://userwww.service.emory.edu/~dgowler/dbg.htm
          ************************************************
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