Collectivism vs. Individualism; Reading the Scripture through Honor-Shame Lenses for Community-based African Cultures

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Sacra Testamentum


In recent studies, honor and shame has gained quite amount of attention from scholars: anthropologists and psychologists. However, theologians have on the other hand overlooked this pervasive yet critical human phenomenon. There seems to be a paucity of theological resources whereby to engage honor and shame related issues in community and collective based societies. While this is a trendy subject in other disciplines, it deserves a great deal of attention in black reflections on Christian studies. Moreover, it is critical that whenever Biblical studies are in engagement with social-political that honor and shame is surfaced. This is because, honor and shame, being pivotal cultural values of the Ancient Mediterranean world where the Bible was written are also present in most African societies today. Unfortunately, current theological discourse doesn’t engage honor-shame as a cultural and theological component to Biblical studies. Therefore, this paper will firstly demonstrate how the theme of honor and shame is pervasive throughout the Bible. Secondly, the paper will argue that while honor and shame are replete in the Scripture, seem to be missing in Biblical studies as well as in African Christianity. Thirdly, the paper will argue how cultural values of honor and shame have played a significant role in shaping morality and behavior in collective and shame-based societies. Lastly, while different shades of honor/shame can be negative, the paper will suggest ways in which a biblical 2 view of the same can be leveraged upon to redeem biblical morality and ethics in community based societies. The goal is to open a conversation in black reflections on Biblical studies whereby honor-shame theology and missiology is mainstreamed in the academia as well in church pews.


Journal Article


Collectivism, Individualism, Reading the Scripture, Honor-Shame Lenses, Community-based African Cultures


Munyao, M. (2019). Collectivism vs. Individualism; Reading the Scripture through Honor-Shame Lenses for Community-based African Cultures. Sacra Testamentum.