Honor and Shame in 1 Samuel 1-7
by Bin Kang
For many cultures throughout history, honor and shame have been foundational concepts for understanding and evaluating reality. In this study of the first seven chapters of 1 Samuel, Dr. Bin Kang establishes that ancient Israel was such a culture. Utilizing social-scientific criticism and careful linguistic analysis, Kang explores the honor/shame framework as an interpretive lens for reading the Old Testament, specifically the Eli/Samuel and Saul/David episodes, and the rich thematic threads that such a reading brings to light. He demonstrates the narrator’s intentional juxtaposition of honor and shame at the beginning of Samuel’s narrative, and its role in establishing a system of judgement for evaluating Israel’s leaders throughout the rest of 1 and 2 Samuel. Ultimately, it is the choice to render right honor to God – or to claim it for oneself – that determines the rise and fall, election or rejection, of both priests and kings.
While making an important contribution to Old Testament scholarship, Kang also includes practical implications for the church in contemporary honor/shame cultures, especially in Asia.