Monthly Archives: December 2013

Mark 7: 1-16

In Mark 7:1-16, Jesus’ disciples eat their food without performing a ritual purification of their hands and the Pharisees take the opportunity to challenge Jesus’ honour.

“What kind of teacher can he be if his disciples transgress the revered “tradition of the elders” (that was attaining a status equal to the written Torah)? Jesus responds … with a counterchallenge. He challenges the Pharisees’ honor as followers of Torah, citing an instance where their tradition stands in contradiction to the written Torah (7:9-13), indeed, one of the Ten Commandments, allowing him even to apply a devastating quotation from Isaiah in his riposte. (7:6-7)”[1]

David deSilva comments that “the reader is reminded of the public nature of this exchange as Jesus addresses his last comment to the crowd (Mark 7:16). Presumably Jesus has successfully warded off the challenge and even caused his opponents to lose face with the counterchallenge. In telling these stories, moreover, the Gospel writers make the Christian readers into the public that witnesses the exchanges and gives its own verdict on who won and who lost. Their own positive estimation of Jesus (as an honorable person and as a reliable teacher of the way to please God) is confirmed as they read these challenge-riposte stories actively and appraisingly.”[2]


[1] David A. deSilva; “Honor, Patronage, Kinship, and Purity;” IVP, Downers Grove IL, 2000, p30.

[2] Ibid., p30.

N Gauge Loft Layout – Hereford – 5

The internet has been a tremendous boon in undertaking research on Hereford. There are many sites which provide historical details and photographs: facebook pages, blogs, flickr, local government sites, britain from the air, etc.

You can find some of these in my post on Herefordshire’s Railways:

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2013/12/25/herefordshire-railways/

In addition, it is worth getting a flavour of the area you intend to model and sites about community life in the area are helpful, particularly when they contain photos and cover the historic period that you are interested in. See, for example:

http://oldherefordpics.blogspot.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Old-Hereford-Pics/42752762059

https://www.facebook.com/OldHerefordRailwayPhotographs

 

N Gauge Loft Layout – Hereford – 4

Hereford lies only 15 miles or so from my wife’s parent’s home in Leominster. Over the years I have tried to pick up as many background photos of Hereford as I can. A small selection are reproduced below. Most of my photos have been uploaded onto flickr and can be found by following this link:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/91981218@N02/sets/72157639013230415/

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Mark 5

In Mark 5: 1-20, Jesus heals the Gerasene demoniac.

He has crossed the Sea of Galilee to the region of the Gerasenes, where a man ‘with an unclean spirit,’ lives. He is a man who is well known in the region for his madness. Efforts to restrain this man have completely failed: “the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him.”

When this man sees Jesus coming, he runs out to him and bows before him. When Jesus says to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit,” the man shouts, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” Jesus asks him his name, and he answers, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” Jesus orders the unclean spirits out of the man, and they enter a herd of swine, who run into the sea.”

James Fowler asserts: “Today it is well known that multiple personality disorder generally results from severe and protracted early childhood abuse, often including sexual abuse. Apparently Jesus conveyed such authority and such acceptance of this man (and of others like him) that his soul, split and shattered like a broken crystal, could find healing and reintegration. Grace is the most powerful antidote to shame. This man must have felt a grace of such acceptance and of value as to make possible the opening of his repressed memories and the reunification and integration of his divided selves.”[1]


[1] James Fowler, “Faithful Change,” p143.

Matthew 21

An excellent illustration of the dynamics of shame and honour in the parables of Jesus is found in Matthew 21:38-42 where Jesus tells the story of two sons asked by their father to work in the vineyard The first adamantly refuses, but later changes his mind and goes to work. The second agrees to work, but never actually does.

Tennent comments: “Most Western readers do not sense the real tension in the story. Certainly the first son, who refused to work but eventually did, is being honored by Jesus and compared with the tax collectors and sinners who initially refused to honor God, but were now repenting and entering the kingdom. Western readers find Jesus’ question patently obvious and the whole construction seems to lack the tension that is so ‘often present in parables. However, the tension of this parable is felt when heard within the context of a shame-based culture. From an honor and shame perspective, the son who publicly agreed to work is actually better than the son who publicly shamed his father by refusing to work and telling him that to his face. Even though the one who refused to work later changed his mind and worked while the former never actually obeyed the father, the public shaming of the father is still a greater sin than not performing the task.[1] The first son may have eventually obeyed the father, but the father lost face. The second son may have not obeyed the father, but he protected the father’s public honor.”[2]


[1] J. H. Neyrey, “Honor and Shame in the Gospel of Matthew,” Westminster John Knox Press, 1998: p31.

[2] Tennent; “Theology in the Context of World Christianity: How the Global Church is Influencing the Way We Think About and Discuss Theology;” Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2007: p87.

N Gauge Loft Layout – Hereford – 3

In order to get a really good impression of the station at Hereford, I visited a few times and also managed to get others to take some photos for me. The station building is listed and is a significant, unique and easily recognised structure. I enlisted some help in making the building, but more of that another time. I must have upwards of 200 different photos of the station building at Barrs Court!

A number of period photos were of real help. A variety of different photographers have loaded their shots onto flickr – a search for photos on the internet also proved to be quite productive!

I’ve produced a few of the many photos I have, below.
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Matthew 12 (and Luke 13)

Most of the interactions between Jesus and the Pharisees were conducted in public. Both Werner Mischke and Jerome Neyrey (Mischke relying on Neyrey) talk of four steps in what was always a protocol of ‘push and shove’, challenge and riposte:[1]

(1) a claim of worth or value;

(2) a challenge or refusal to acknowledge that claim;

(3) a riposte or defence of the claim; and

(4) a public verdict of success awarded to either claimant or challenger.

Take, for example, Matthew 12:8-16, 23. In this story, we have (1) Jesus claim to honour, “the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath” (v8); (2) a challenge to that claim, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” Asked so as to open the possibility of accusation! (3) a riposte, in this case in three parts: (a) an indirect response, Jesus paints a picture of a sheep in desperate need, who would not help it, he asks (v11-12); (b) a direct response, “So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (v12); (c) a demonstration of authority, “Then Jesus said to the man [with the withered hand] Stretch out your hand. And the man stretched it out, and it was restored (v13).  The Pharisees lost the contest and this is attested by the response of those present, “And many followed him, and he healed them all and ordered them not to make him known. … And all the people were amazed, and said, Can this be the Son of David?” (v15, 23).

Mishcke goes comments that “the beauty of the indirect communication, [in this case the story of the sheep] is that it creates space. It allows individuals to save face when giving bad news.”[2] No doubt, it also creates a little breathing space which might allow the protagonist to back down with losing too much face him or herself.

Halvor Moxnes provides an almost identical analysis of a parallel passage in Luke (13:10-17). In Luke the person seeking healing is a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. Nonetheless, the story follows the same structure and Moxnes comments on the same drama of challenge and risposte. He comments that “This is only one of many similar stories about Jesus; throughout the Synoptic Gospels challenge and riposte are a common form of interaction between Jesus and his opponents (cf. Matt 4:1–11; Mark 2:1–12; Luke 4:1–13; 10:25–37).”[3]


[1] Werner Mischke; “Honor and Shame in Cross-Cultural relationships;” p15; Jerome H. Neyrey; “Honour and Shame in the Gospel of Matthew;” p20.

[2] Mischke, op.cit., p17.

[3] Halvor Moxnes; “”Honor and Shame,” in The Social Sciences and New Testament Interpretation, R. L. Rohrbaugh, ed. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1996, p22-23.

N Gauge Loft Layout – Hereford – 2

This next set of photos shows progress after a further year. One control panel (for one of the fiddleyards) has been completed and the wiring is also complete. The second control panel, which controls the station area, is being wired up. About 30℅ of the trackwork is in place. The track is predominantly Code 80, as in some places I have had to use 9″ radius curves and points. Points are a mixture of electrofrog and insulfrog. Virtually all points on the layout will be controlled by wire in tube.
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Matthew 5 and Matthew 23

K. C. Hanson[1] asks us to consider the blessings and woes of Matthew’s Gospel. He comments that the beatitudes (Matt.5:3-12) “are customarily interpreted as Jesus’ authoritative pronouncement of divine blessing on those who embody the listed characteristics. Some scholars have emphasised the eschatalogical nature of these formulas as promises. English translations, however, obscure the linguistic, and therefore the cultural and theological, distinctions between blessings and makarisms.”[2]

Interestingly, in view of our interest in honour and shame, Jerome Neyrey suggests that a better translation of makarioi, traditionally rendered ‘blessed’, or in some recent translations ‘happy’, would be ‘honoured’:

“In Greek the term is “makarism,” which basically means “how honorable” or “how worthy.” It does not mean that this person is “happy” for being thus. Rather the focus is on the approval and worth which Jesus gives to disciples who have had shameful experiences because of him. This may sound strange, but we ought to think of it as Jesus’ validation of and canonization of those who have paid a great price to follow him.”[3]

“Corresponding to the makarisms, the interpretation of the reproaches (or ‘woes’) in Matt.23:13-36 has been similarly misconstrued. Some have/ taken them to be pronouncements of curses or threats, while others treat them as if they were prophecies of judgement or cries of anguish.”[4]

“Makarisms constitute a positive challenge, affirming the honour of another, calling for a subsequent positve response. Reproaches constitute a negative challenge to another’s honour.”[5]  Essentially they are saying, ‘shamed …’ or ‘shameful are they who …’.

Blessings and curses are formal pronouncements by someone in authority, “not only are they formal proclamations, but they are understood as words of power; the words bring the desired result to fruition. … (Numb.22:6).”[6]  “The blessing is not merely a promise, but a formal conferring of favour and an empowerment which cannot be taken back or transferred (cf. Gen.27:30-40).”[7]

Matthew 5:3-10 – The makarisms of Matt.5:3-10 “offer honour … to whomever behaves in like manner. … The second parts identify the grant of honour for those who act appropriately.”[8]

Matthew 23:13-36 – These reproaches or woes “do not include any formal sentence or threat. Their power, therefore, lies in their success at uncovering shameful behaviours, not in legal or theological adjudication. They are implications of shame on specific groups: scribes and Pharisees.”[9]

There are a large number of these ‘makarisms’ throughout scripture and they share a common perspective on honour and shame. [10] What is particularly interesting in Matthew’s Gospel is that Matthew 5:3-10 provides the introduction to Jesus’ public ministry and Matthew 23:13-31 its conclusion. Consequently these makarisms and reproaches form an honour/shame bracket around Jesus’ public teaching!


[1] K. C. Hanson; “How Honourable! How Shameful! A Cultural Anaysis of Matthew’s Makarisms and Reproaches“; in Semeia 68; “Honour and Shame in the World of the Bible“; 1996; pp81-111, cf. Neyrey; op. cit; p164-189.

[2] Ibid., p81.

[3] Jerome H. Neyrey; “Year A: The Gospel of Matthew;” Univeristy of Notre Dame, 7th March 2011. Web. 28th November 2013. http://www3.nd.edu/~jneyrey1/Matthew-a.html.

[4] Hanson., op. cit., p82.

[5] Ibid., p84.

[6] Ibid., p85

[7] Ibid., p87

[8] Ibid., p100

[9] Ibid., p102

[10] Ibid., p104

Shame in the Gospels

The Gospels

Jerome H. Neyrey argues that many of Jesus’ parables cannot be properly understood apart from notions of public shame, which are quite different from judicial or internalized conceptions of guilt.[1] “For example, Jesus employs the social usage of someone experiencing shame in the parable of the dishonest, but shrewd, manager, who acknowledges that he is too ashamed to beg (Luke 16:3), or the person who takes the seat of honor at a wedding feast only to be asked to suffer the humiliation and public shame of being moved to the lowest place because a more distinguished guest has arrived (Luke 14:7-11).”[2] (p87).

Timothy Tennent says that “this latter passage is particularly significant because Jesus deliberately contrasts the two values of shame and honor in his exposition of the parable. In a powerful foreshadowing of the cross, Jesus tells his disciples to act like servants and take the lowliest seat in the house, and then, when the host arrives, he will publicly show honor by moving them to a higher place. Then, Jesus concludes, “you will be honored  [lit., there will be glory, doxa, to you] in the presence of all your fellow guests” (Luke 14:10).” [3]

In subsequent posts, I will be looking a passages from the gospels to identify these important themes of honour and shame. Again we will take testimony from expert theologians and I think we will see that Jerome Neyrey is right in asserting that shame and honour are significant in the life and parables of Jesus.


[1] J. H. Neyrey, “Honor and Shame in the Gospel of Matthew,” (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1998). See for example, the man without the wedding garment (Matt. 22:11-15), the wicked servant (Matt. 24:51), or the unprepared virgins ( Matt. 25:12).

[2] Timothy C. Tennent: “Theology in the Context of World Christianity: How the Global Church is Influencing the Way We Think About and Discuss Theology;” Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2007, p87.

[3] Ibid., p87.