The Honor and Shame of the Gospel of Jesus Christ Essay

The Honor and Shame of the Gospel of Jesus Christ Essay

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To understand both the honor and shame involved in the gospel pertaining to Jesus Christ, honor and shame will be defined according to the ancient Mediterranean and Greco-Roman world. A person born in either world during the first century, was taught to “seek honor and avoid disgrace”. The universal definition of Honor could be best described as the “public acknowledgment of a person’s worth”. There were two possible routes in which one obtained honor. The first, through the ascription by another, meaning someone would credit the person. The second, was through an individual’s own achievement. One could achieve honor by the degree of which he or she embodied the qualities and behaviors valued in that particular society. Men from stories such as those from Homer to Paul of Tarsus were a few of the many who lived and died in “quest of honor, reputation, fame, approval and respect”.
Scholars describe the term “honor” as one that varies from culture to culture. With that in mind, the two focused cultures of this paper are the Greco-Roman and the Mediterranean. In the Greco-Roman world, honor and its counterpart shame, were a psychological means of keeping the social body under control. Honor was attributed to those who conformed most to the value system of the group. Not conforming, not only meant one was disapproved by the social body, but it meant one was socially disrupting the group’s continued existence. The basis of honor was largely projected through maintenance of “agreement and unity” for the good of the larger group. In fact the greek word idiots, was coined after individuals who failed to participate in their civic duty for the common good. For example, shop owners, who instead of shutting down business to joi...


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... culture of the Romans. The dominant Greco-Roman culture held the Jews in disapproval, they constantly pushed them to lose their Jewishness and assimilate to their culture, and now the new faith, would place the Christians in Rome in a sub minority group then the Jews. This was why it was important for Paul to affirm the honor of Christians through Jesus. By making a bold statement against shame, Paul “insulat[ed] them from the disapproval of Jews and Gentiles alike”.
Therefore, by establishing an apologetic Honor discourse, Paul was creating a defense for the community with a communal message against attacks and on their identity. Doing so by a letter prior to arriving to Rome, would prepare the Romans for his visit, and allow for rapport build through their communal message, in order to create a unity into the his ministry and overall message of the gospel.

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