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Despising Shame: Honor Discourse and Community Maintenance in the Epistle to the Hebrews
David De Silva
Not yet published
Publication Date
January 1997


This work demonstrates how the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews radically transformed the meaning of terms such as “honor” and “loyalty” for the members of the Christian minority community he addressed. Thus, for example, “honor,” a value that formerly supported kinship and political structures within the dominant Greco-Roman culture, is transformed into a term that signifies support for the fictive kinship within, and commitment to, the values of the alternative, Christian culture. DeSilva’s painstaking examination of hwo shame, honor, and benefaction helped to maintain the integrity of the Christian minority community will be of interest to students of rhetoric, interpreters of Hebrews, and persons interested in first-century social relationships.

“DeSilva has done an excellent job in demonstrating the rhetorical strategy of the author of Hebrews.… DeSilva’s work deserves to be examined carefully.… His work should be a significant source for those studying the sociology of the New Testament and an indispensable source for those writing on the Epistle to the Hebrews.”
Catholic Biblical Quarterly


Chapter 1: Hebrews and Honor Culture

Chapter 2: Honor, Shame, and Dominant Cultural Rhetoric

Chapter 3: Honor, Shame, and the Rhetoric of Minority Cultures

Chapter 4: “Despising Shame”: Counter-Definitions of the Honorable and Disgraceful in Hebrews

Chapter 5: Exchanging Grace for Wrath: The Danger of Dishonoring God

Chapter 6: The Construction of an Alternate Court of Reputation

Chapter 7: Conclusions

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