oa Conspectus : The Journal of the South African Theological Seminary - Beyond shame and honour : Matthew’s representation of the dignity code of Jesus - research

Volume 28 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1996-8167



The Gospel of Matthew, across the centuries, has provided the bedrock for the instruction of Christians, especially new converts. The Gospel offers a multifaceted portrait of Jesus, perfect for an understanding of the Reign of Heaven (Kingdom of God) and challenging enough to remind the readers that like the home of the scribe, one can constantly find new treasures to discover. In this article, I examine the values which the Matthean Jesus espouses. I argue that Matthew’s Gospel highlights Jesus’ personal interactions and his ethical teaching in a deliberate manner. Jesus crosses boundaries, engages in economic discussions and promotes a praxis of caring for the vulnerable. In these interactions, we see Jesus challenging the prevailing honour and shame code and offering, through his actions and teaching, a positive alternative in the form of what I have termed his dignity code. Where the honour code promoted the pursuit of self-interest and personal glory, Jesus’ code personified humility and the dignity of others, especially those who were rendered vulnerable or were shamed by their society, including women, children and gentiles.

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