The subject of honor and shame-based cultures is familiar to anthropologists, but a foreign topic to most people interested in biblical studies. Nevertheless, it is an important aspect of New Testament interpretation. In this episode we chat with Dr. David de Silva, a recognized expert in this area of Second Temple period / New Testament study. As he wrote in The Dictionary of New Testament Background, “Honor refers to the public acknowledgment of a person’s worth, granted on the basis of how fully that individual embodies qualities and behaviors valued by the group. First-century Mediterranean people were oriented from early childhood to seek honor and avoid disgrace, meaning that they would be sensitive to public recognition or reproach. Where different cultures with different values existed side by side, it became extremely important to insulate one’s own group members against the desire for honor or avoidance of dishonor in the eyes of outsiders, since only by so doing could one remain wholly committed to the distinctive culture and values of the group. This struggle is particularly evident in the NT, as church leaders seek to affirm the honor of Christians on the basis of their adherence to Jesus while insulating them from the disapproval they face from non-Christian Jews and Gentiles alike.”
David A. deSilva, “Honor and Shame,” Dictionary of New Testament Background: A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 518–519.
David de Silva, Honor, Patronage, Kinship, and Purity: Unlocking New Testament Culture (IVP Academic, 2000)
David de Silva, Introducing the Apocrypha: Message, Context, and Significance (Baker Academic, 2018)
David de Silva, The Letter to the Galatians (New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT; 2018)