The Context Group : Amusing and Interesting Info from the Society of Biblical Literature Meeting Nov. 2010 in Atlanta

Context Group

From Loren Rossen:

Context Group member Douglas Oakman pointed out that the Context Group originated in no small part in order to make sense of the real-life experiences of its members who spent time living in honor-shame-based cultures rather than guilt-based ones. Dick Rohrbaugh lived on the West Bank for many years, and other members have evidently lived abroad too. To people who have lived and breathed shame-based cultures over an extended period of time, experience is all the evidence you can ask for.

And is there really a mystery here? Is there any doubt as to what formal studies of Mediterranean peoples would demonstrate? There have been studies of honor-shame subcultures of the United States. (The American south is an honor-shame subculture, meaning, more shame-based relative to the north, but compared to places like the Mediterranean region, it starts to look as guilt-based as any part of the U.S.) For instance, a 1996 study conducted at the University of Michigan found remarkable differences between northern and southern Americans, in how they react to people who bump into and swear at them. 65% of the northerners were amused by the bump and insult, and 35% got angry; but only 15% of the southerners were amused — the other 85% got furious. On top of this, the studies showed that the southerners had strong physiological reactions to being bumped/insulted, with increases in cortisol (a hormone associated with high levels of stress and anxiety) and testosterone levels. Now, if differences like these between people in the United States can be verified and documented, there shouldnʼt be much doubt that studies of Mediterranean peoples would confirm what Context Group members have been telling us for years, based significantly on direct experience.

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