Shame in the Individual Lament Psalms and African Spirituality

by Mark S. Aidoo (Author)
©2017 Thesis 262 Pages


The book explores how the rhetorical function of «bôš» («shame») and its cognates within twelve Individual Lament Psalms (ILP) reflect persuasive responses aimed at enhancing the relational spirituality of the psalmist. It argues that the Hebrew terminology of «bôš» is used as a response to enhance a spirituality of relatedness. The author argues that the plea for positive shame is to enhance positive spirituality that leads to changes of attitude, repentance, faithfulness, self-knowledge, and wholeness. Negative shame influences negative spirituality that leads to destruction and unworthiness. The volume reflects African Christian spirituality elucidating the psalmist’s perception of positive shame.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • Abstract
  • Abbreviations
  • I. Introduction
  • 1. The Issues at Stake
  • 2. A Motivation for Shame Studies
  • 3. Shame and Biblical Spirituality
  • 4. Methodological Considerations
  • II. Shame in Context: Encountering the Phenomenon of Shame in the Hebrew Bible, Anthropology, and Psychology
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. בושׁ in the Old Testament
  • 1) Positive and Negative Shame
  • 2) Objective and Subjective Shame
  • 3) Shame and Guilt
  • 3. Shame in Anthropology
  • 4. Psychological Emotional Affect of Shame
  • 1) Shame and Narcissism
  • 2) Discretion-Shame and Disgrace-Shame
  • 5. Conclusions
  • III. Positive Petitions for Shaming: The Rhetoric of Praying Against the Enemy
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Psalm 6
  • 1) Structure
  • 2) Situation
  • 3) Strategy
  • 3. Psalm 35
  • 1) Structure
  • 2) Situation
  • 3) Strategy
  • 4. Psalms 40 and 70
  • 1) Structure
  • 2) Situation
  • 3) Strategy
  • 5. Psalm 53
  • 1) Structure
  • 2) Situation
  • 3) Strategy
  • 6. Psalm 86
  • 1) Structure
  • 2) Situation
  • 3) Strategy
  • 7. Psalm 109
  • 1) Structure
  • 2) Situation
  • 3) Strategy
  • 8. Conclusions
  • IV. Negative Petitions Concerning Shaming: The Rhetoric of the Righteous Avoiding Shame
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Psalm 22
  • 1) Structure
  • 2) Situation
  • 3) Strategy
  • 3. Psalm 69
  • 1) Structure
  • 2) Situation
  • 3) Strategy
  • 4. Conclusions
  • V. The Rhetoric of Shifting between Positive and Negative Shaming
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Psalm 25
  • 1) Structure
  • 2) Situation
  • 3) Strategy
  • 3. Psalm 31
  • 1) Structure
  • 2) Situation
  • 3) Strategy
  • 4. Psalm 71
  • 1) Structure
  • 2) Situation
  • 3) Strategy
  • 5. Conclusions
  • VI. Creative Theological Consciousness in the Effectiveness of Shaming Rhetoric
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. The Credibility of the Psalmist
  • 3. The Audience of the Psalmist
  • 4. The Emotional Appeal of the Petitions
  • 5. Evaluative Claims of the Psalmist
  • 6. Conclusions
  • VII. Shaming toward Spirituality – An African Cultural Perspective
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Shame and African Spirituality as Relatedness and Renewal
  • 3. Building Bridges between the Psalmist’s Spirituality and African Spirituality
  • 4. Shaming and the Mission of the Contemporary African Church
  • 5. Conclusions
  • VIII. Conclusion
  • 1. Summary of the Present Study
  • 2. Implications for Further Studies
  • Bibliography
  • Series index

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This work is a revised edition of my doctoral thesis. All has been the fruit of God’s overwhelming grace. Who am I to deserve such a gift? Thank you, my Lord, for you inclined to me at an appointed time.

In this journey, many individuals deserve appreciation for their contributions in making this a success. First, I thank all my professors at Seoul Christian University whose influence has led me this far. My advisor, Professor Min Dae-Hoon has been a great encourager. I would especially mention Professor Kim Dohyung, the Dean of the Graduate School of Theology, who stood by me and guided me with helpful comments. I am also grateful to the Thesis Examination committee, especially Professor Park Shin-Bae of Korea Christian University and Professor So Hyeong-Geun for their timely input. The Scholarship Committee of the Seoul Christian University Alumni deserves mention for their special award.

A number of scholars also sacrificed and supported me in the development of this project. Professor Ignatius Fosu of The University of Arkansas, USA, Professor Lee Chul-Huan of Gyeongin University College of Education, Incheon, South Korea, Dr Temjen Senti Imchen of Serampore College, India, and Rev Dr Patrick Kofi Amissah in UK, offered useful suggestions. I am grateful for their insightful comments. Professor Johanna Stiebert of Leeds University, UK, and Professor Jacqueline Lapsley of Princeton Theological Seminary, USA made significant contributions and I feel so honored.

I would like to offer special thanks to my friends and colleagues who in diverse ways touched my life. Unfortunately, I can mention only a few of them. Eric Sackey led me through the valleys. Dinah Yorke stayed with me as I climbed the hills. Mr Ivan Essigbey sacrificed a lot for my family while I left home to study. It is also a privilege to acknowledge some great pastoral friends and their spouses who shaped my life, especially the Very Rev David Forson who adopted me as a brother and nurtured me to be a preacher, and the Very Rev Ebenezer Eshun who candidated me into the Ordained Ministry and loved me for who I am. Many other colleagues in the ordained ministry have been extremely helpful. Words, however, cannot describe how thankful I am also to my mentor, Very Rev Dr John Abedu Quashie, for his thoughtful care and concern.

I am especially thankful to Rev Noh, Woo Suk, Head Pastor of Pyung-An Presbyterian Church, Incheon who invited me to serve in his church and supported me all the way during my stay in South Korea. The English Worship members were exceptionally good to me. ← 9 | 10 →

I must admit that my brother, Mr Isaac Ekow Aidoo, played a great role and supported me all the way. Thanks to his ingenuity and resourcefulness. My parents, brothers and sister, wife and children have all been very supportive. I pray that you all will “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Mk,ylefE MOlWA.

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This work explores the terminology בוֺש “shame” in twelve individual lament psalms of the Old Testament. It is argued that petitions relating positive shame aim at either disgrace-shame or discretion-shame to influence change of attitude, repentance, and faithfulness. Where negative shame is intended, it aims at destruction yet is used as a plot to bring the enemies to self-knowledge and affirm the authority of YHWH. Such a move resonates with African spirituality that aims at community and affirmation. An examination of the ethos, pathos, and logos of the arguments set the persuasive element of the psalmist’s rhetoric in place. The various references to the psalmist’s past relationship with YHWH, emotional and physical suffering, and a demonstration of various literary devices serve as rhetorical strategies to influence the psalmist’s goal.

Chapter 1 is the introductory part of the study. It sketches a brief literature review of shame studies in the Psalms and highlights rhetorical analysis as the main methodology for the study. Chapter 2 explores the basic views that shape the understanding of shame in the fields of theology, anthropology, and psychology. Chapters 3 to 6 then proceed with a rhetorical analysis of Psalms 6, 22, 25, 31, 35, 40, 53, 69, 70, 71, 86, and 109. This is developed in two parts. The first part (chapters 3–5) deals with the exegetical discussions using my translations of the Masoretic Text (MT), and the examination of the literary structures and strategies employed in the construction of the poems. The second part (Chapter 6) is an expansive study on the rhetorical effectiveness of the poems and shows how the concept of relatedness shapes the usage of the shame language in the prayers of the psalmist. Chapter 7 explores how the spirituality of the psalmist resonates with African spirituality and the mission of the contemporary Church. Finally, the concluding chapter summarizes the views expressed in the study and also suggests some prospects for further study.

This study affirms that the terminology בוֺש does not bear a single meaning and does not support the honor-shame binary. It demonstrates that the various usages of בוֺש employed as positive shame and negative shame points to aspects of disgrace-shame, discretion-shame, and disappointment that echo the Deuteronomic and Deuteronomistic theologies of blessings and curses. The primary methodology for this study is rhetorical criticism. However, a study about shame and biblical spirituality also prompts a multidisciplinary approach. In this respect, the field of psychology, anthropology, and biblical theology become useful. ← 11 | 12 →

This study also reflects on the values of interconnectedness, harmonious balance, relatedness, and traditions of responsibility and reciprocity that are foundational to the psalmist and also relevant in African spirituality. Culturally, however, Africans lack the linguistic and religious tools that enable them to petition about their shame the way the psalmist does. As such, the contemporary Christian Church needs to reexamine its liturgies to meet those who suffer negative emotional shame.

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AB Anchor Bible

ABD Anchor Bible Dictionary

ACE After Common Era

ActTheol Acta Theologica

AdvNursSci Advanced Nursing Science

AJS Review Association for Jewish Studies Review

ANE Ancient Near East

AOTS Augsburg Old Testament Studies

ASB Anglican Seminary Bulletin

ATR Anglican Theological Review

AUSS Andrews University Seminary Studies

BBR Bulletin for Biblical Research

BCE Before Common Era

BCOTWP Baker’s Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms

BDB Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew and English Lexicon with an Appendix containing the Biblical Aramaic (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1979).

BEPC Baker Encyclopedia of Psychology and Counseling 2nd Ed. (eds. David G. Benner and Peter C. Hill; Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999)

BeritOlam Berit Olam Commentary Series

BES Biblical Encounter Series

BHS Biblica Hebraica Stuttgartensia (eds. K. Elliger and W. Rudolph; Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1997)

BibInt Biblical Interpretation

BSac Bibliotheca Sacra

BYU Studies Brigham Young University Studies

CBQ Catholic Biblical Quarterly

CC The Christian Century

CD Child Development

CJB Complete Jewish Bible

CPNIVC College Press NIV Commentary

CRJ Christian Research Journal ← 13 | 14 →

CSSA Cambridge Studies in Social Anthropology

CTJ Calvin Theological Journal

DBCI Dictionary of Biblical Criticism and Interpretation (ed. Stanley E. Porter; London and New York: Routledge Taylor and Francis Group, 2007)

DBI Dictionary of Biblical Interpretation (Gen. ed., John Hayes; Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1999)

Dialog Dialog: A Journal of Theology

Diss Dissertation

EBC The Expositor’s Bible Commentary

ECC Eerdmans Critical Commentary

ExpTim Expository Times

ESV English Standard Version

FOTL Forms of Old Testament Literature

HALOT Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, 2 Volumes (Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner; Translated by M. E. J. Richardson; Leiden: Brill, 2001)

HCSB Holman Christian Standard Bible

HTR Harvard Theological Review

HTS Harvard Theological Studies

ICC International Critical Commentary

IJPT International Journal for Pastoral Theology

ILP Individual Lament Psalms

Int Interpretation

Int Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology

JAAR Journal of the American Academy of Religion

J Afri Am St Journal of African American Studies

JAOS Journal of American Oriental Society

JAP Journal of Analytical Psychology

JAPA Journal of Aging and Physical Activity

JB Jerusalem Bible

JBL Journal of Biblical Literature

JETS Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

JExpMed Journal of Experimental Medicine

JHS Journal of Hellenistic Studies

JNES Journal of Near Eastern Studies

JNMD Journal of Nervous and Mental Disorder

JNSL Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages ← 14 | 15 →

JPC Journal of Psychology and Christianity

JPCC Journal of Pastoral Care and Counseling

JPS JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh (2nd Edition)

JSOT Journal for the Study of Old Testament

JSOTSup Journal for the Study of Old Testament Supplement

JTSA Journal of Theology for Southern Africa

KJV King James Version

LHB/OTS Library of Hebrew Bible/ Old Testament Studies

LXX Septuagint Text (Old Greek)

MBP Mellen Biblical Press Series

MedAnthrop Medical Anthropology

MT Masoretic Text

NASB New American Standard Bible

NDCEPT New Dictionary of Christian Ethics and Pastoral Theology (eds. David J. Atkinson and David H. Field; Illinois: InterVasity Press, 1995)

NDPS The New Dictionary of Pastoral Studies (ed. Wesley Carr; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002)

NIB New International Bible

NIB The New Interpreter’s Bible (eds. Leander E. Keck et al.; Nashville: Abingdon, 1996)

NIDOTTE New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, 5 Volumes (Gen. Ed., W. A. VanGemeren. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997).

NJB New Jerusalem Bible

NJPS The New Jewish Publication Society Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures

NKJV New King James Bible

NRSV New Revised Standard Version

NT New Testament

OBC Orientalia Biblicaet Christiana

OBT Overtures of Biblical Theology

OT Old Testament

OTE Old Testament Essays

PastPsy Pastoral Psychology

PC Pastoral Counseling

Restud Review of Economic Studies

RevExp Review and Expositor ← 15 | 16 →

SAJBL South African Journal of Bioethics and Law

SAJG Southwestern African Journal of Gerontology

SBLDS Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Series

SBLSP Society of Biblical Literature Seminar Papers

SBLSS Society of Biblical Literature Symposium Series

SEEJ Scandinavian Evangelical E-Journal

Semeia Society of Biblical Literature Semeia

TDOT Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, 15 Volumes (eds. G. Johannes Botterweck and H. Rinngren; Translated by John T. Willis. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975–2006).

TheolEduc Theological Educator

TLOT Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament. 3 Volumes (eds. Ernst Jenni and Claus Westermann; Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1997)

TOTC Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries

TS Theological Studies

TSR Trinity Seminary Review

TTod Theology Today

TynBul Tyndale Bulletin

UBSS United Bible Society Series

VE Verbum et Ecclesia

VT Vetus Testamentum

VTSup Supplements to Vetus Testamentum

WBC Word Biblical Commentary

WW Word and World

ZAW Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2017 (July)
Disgrace-shame Discretion-shame Positive spirituality Negative spirituality
Frankfurt am Main, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2017. 262 pp., 2 graphs, 2 tables

Biographical notes

Mark S. Aidoo (Author)

Mark S. Aidoo is a lecturer in Old Testament Studies and Hebrew at Trinity Theological Seminary, Legon (Ghana). He studied theology at the Trinity Theological Seminary (Ghana), at Princeton Theological Seminary (USA) and Seoul Christian University (South Korea). He is a member of the Ghana Association of Biblical Exegetes (GABES) and International Organization for the Study of Old Testament (IOSOT). He also serves as the Director for Special Programmes at Trinity Theological Seminary (Ghana)- His research interests are biblical interpretation, Hebrew poetry, and biblical leadership.


Title: Shame in the Individual Lament Psalms and African Spirituality
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