More Information
ISBN: 9781839736032
Imprint: Langham Monographs
Format: Paperback
Dimensions (mm): 229 x 152 x 15
Publication Date: 16/12/2022
Pages: 284
Language: English

Honor and Shame in 1 Samuel 1–7


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.

Author Bios

Bin Kang

BIN KANG has a PhD in Biblical Studies from Asia Graduate School of Theology, Philippines. He and his wife have been engaged in various mission and teaching ministries in East Asia. He currently serves on the faculty of Biblical Seminary of the Philippines, Valenzuela City.


The volume offers a fresh approach to 1 Samuel that is methodologically sound and nuanced in order to gain a deeper understanding of the text in its own cultural context. The author’s voice is an important one for scholars and pastors wishing to apply a social-scientific lens to the biblical text in order to hear itsmessage afresh for today.

Bill T. Arnold, PhD
Paul S. Amos Professor of Old Testament Interpretation,
Asbury Theological Seminary, Kentucky, USA

Using the ideological perspective of honor and shame, this is a fresh understanding of the book of First Samuel, with a special treatment on the first seven chapters. Compulsively readable, the author interacts with a stunning amount of research and cautiously interprets the texts. His analyses of the neglected biblical concept of honor and shame, reflecting the social-cultural values of the Global South, will surely steer more scholarly debate and understanding. We are proud of his significant contribution to OT studies.

Joseph Shao, PhD
President Emeritus, Biblical Seminary of the Philippines
Former General Secretary, Asia Theological Association

In this close analysis of 1 Samuel 1–7, Kang Bin employs “socio-literary criticism” in demonstrating both the validity and the value of reading these chapters through an ideological “lens” of honor and shame, as developed by the narrator throughout 1 Samuel. He convincingly draws attention to the thematic centrality of these polar concepts in Hannah’s journey from shame to honor, in the contrasting characters and outcomes of the Elides and Samuel, and in YHWH’s defense of his own glory in the ark narrative.

Richard Schultz, PhD
Blanchard Professor of Old Testament,
Wheaton College, Illinois, USA

This volume is a unique contribution to biblical studies. Crafted, researched and written by a scholar well cognizant of and sensitive to the honor-shame culture common to much of Asia, Kang Bin argues that the first of the books of Samuel is couched in a narrative ideology, which requires more than mere expertise in historical and literary-critical methodology to apprehend its ultimate message. His confining his study primarily to the first seven chapters of 1 Samuel has not only allowed for in-depth analysis but prompts further research into this stimulating topic within the whole of the Samuelic corpus. I recommend this volume to anyone interested in the study of ancient Israel.

Tim Undheim, PhD
Asia Graduate School of Theology, Manila, Philippines

Table of Contents

  1. Acknowledgements
  2. Abbreviations
  3. Chapter 1 Introduction
    1. Background to and Reason for This Research
    2. Honor and Shame Defined
    3. A Review of the Research on Honor and Shame
    4. A survey related to Old Testament in general
    5. Literature reviews related to Deuteronomistic History
    6. Literature reviews related to the book of First Samuel
    7. The Justification for This Study
    8. Research Methodology
    9. Scope and Delimitation
    10. The Structure of Our Study
  4. Chapter 2 The Language of Honor and Shame in 1 Samuel
    1. Introduction
    2. Honor and Shame Terms in the Song of Hannah (1 Sam 2:1–10)
    3. The Use of כבד
    4. Shame/Shaming Terms in 1 Samuel
    5. A “Seat” (כסא) of Honor (1 Sam 1:9; 2:8; 4:13, 18)
    6. The Honor of a “Chief Position” in a Meal (1 Sam 9:22)
    7. A Monument (יד), the Proclamation of Honor (1 Sam 15:12)
    8. David’s Esteemed Name (1 Sam 18:30)
    9. The Disgrace of Nakedness (1 Sam 19:24; 20:30)
    10. The Face of Abigail (1 Sam 25:35)
    11. Uncircumcision as a Sign of Disgrace (1 Sam 14:6; 17:26, 36; 31:4)
    12. The Stigmatized Metaphors: A Dog, a Flea (1 Sam 17:43; 24:14; 26:20)
    13. A Disfigured Body as a Sign of Shame (1 Sam 31:8–13)
    14. Conclusion
  5. Chapter 3 Hannah – Competing for Honor, from the Ashamed to the Honored (1 Samuel 1:1–2:11, 18–21)
    1. Hannah Ashamed of Her Barrenness (1 Sam 1:1–8)
    2. God Clears Hannah’s Shame by Giving Her a Child (1 Sam 1:9–20)
    3. Hannah Honors God by Offering Samuel to the Lord (1 Sam 1:21–28)
    4. Hannah’s Thanksgiving Song: The Lord Who Oversees Men’s Honor and Shame (1 Sam 2:1–10)
    5. The Lord Honors Hannah by Giving Her Many Other Children (1 Sam 2:18–21)
    6. Conclusion
  6. Chapter 4 The Elides and Samuel – Honoring Selves versus Honoring God (1 Samuel 2:12–17; 2:22–4:18; 7:2–17)
    1. Eli Honors His Sons More than the Lord (1 Sam 2:12–17, 22–25, 27–36)
    2. Samuel Honors the Lord by His Faithful Service (1 Sam 3:1–10)
    3. Eli’s Family Judged with Shame (1 Sam 3:11–18; 4:12–18)
    4. Samuel Honors the Lord by Establishing a Stone Monument (1 Sam 7:2–12)
    5. God Honors Samuel by Establishing Him as a Prophet (1 Sam 3:19–21)
    6. Conclusion
  7. Chapter 5 The Ark Narrative – YHWH Defends His Own Glory (1 Samuel 4:1–7:1)
    1. The Glory of the God of Israel Is Not Present at the Capture of the Ark of the Lord (1 Sam 4:1–22)
    2. The God of the Philistines Shamed Before the God of Israel (1 Sam 5:1–5)
    3. The Hand of the Lord Is “Heavy” upon the Cities of the Philistines (1 Sam 5:6–12)
    4. The Unusual Return of the Ark of the Lord (1 Sam 6:1–18)
    5. God’s Glory Is Not to Be Offended (1 Sam 6:19–7:1)
    6. Conclusion
  8. Chapter 6 Conclusion and Implications
    1. Conclusion
    2. Implications of This Study
  9. Appendixes
  10. Bibliography

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