Honor and Shame in the Time of Palestine

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Megan Ashley Garza
10/1/12
Gospel and Acts/RELS2350-03
Professor Jason Lamoreaux

Honor and Shame in the Time of Palestine
In first century Palestine, honor and shame were important to social elites because the two values defined the status within the communities. Honor is an important status because it is what separates the higher classes from the lower classes. Shame is the opposite of honor because it can lower social status through humiliation and disgrace. Once one loses his honor, it becomes difficult to regain it, if at all. In the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, the chief priests and the elders attempted to find reasons to question and find fault in Jesus without bringing shame upon themselves or losing their own honor. The reasoning behind the chief priests’ and elders’ questions and behavior are uncovered by applying the historical context of what honor and shame meant in Jesus’ time.

In this situation, there are two types of honor, ascribed and acquired honor. Ascribed honor is when one is born with honor. Ascribed honor is inherited from one’s descendants. (Hanson and Oakman, 183) Acquired honor is when one establishes his honor, unlike ascribed honor, the acquired honor is not inherited. Acquired honor is earned by achievement (Hanson and Oakman, 183). In the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, the chief priests and the elders question Jesus’ honor. They questioned whether his honor was ascribed or acquired and wondered who in an essay, should the title be underlined or quotation marks? mlagave him such authority to perform his duties. While Jesus performed his miracles, he never brought shame upon himself.

Because a person’s honor is defined by who and what they are, it is reasonable to understand why the chief priests questioned Jesus’ authority. The chief priests were trying to bring shame upon Jesus and to see as if Jesus was really the...
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