“How long will my glory be reproach?”: Honor and Shame in OT Lament Traditions

  • Jerry Hwang Singapore Bible College
Keywords: lament, Psalms, Ezra, Nehemiah, honor, shame

Abstract

Old Testament scholarship increasingly recognizes that honor and shame were ubiquitous cultural values in ancient Israel. While this development has led to several full-length studies on honor and shame in OT prosaic books, OT poetic books in which honor-shame terminology features even more prominently have yet to be studied in detail, especially the lament psalms and the related penitential prayers of the post-exilic era. This article therefore explores the semantic fields of honor and shame in the various kinds of OT lament—individual laments and communal laments in poetry, as well as penitential prayers in prose. Though distinctive in their own way, each lament tradition closely links the suffering supplicant’s shame to the honor of Yhwh. This entwinement of divine and human identities empowers the supplicant to lean into shaming experiences—a cultural uniqueness of OT lament traditions when considered in the light of psychology and anthropology.

Author Biography

Jerry Hwang, Singapore Bible College
Associate Professor of Old Testament

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Published
2017-12-20