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Marlene Yap: The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ

Missionary-scholar Jim Harries reflects on what Asian scholars have to say about Jesus, his death on the cross, and the culture of honor and shame.


Marlene Yap, “The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ: From Extreme Shame to Victorious Honor,” The Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies 21:1 (February 2018), pages 33-47.

This is a great article that makes a meaningful contribution to the ongoing emphasis on the importance of the recognition of the impact of shame in New Testament times and in contemporary times. This article is part of an entire issue with this emphasis, “Biblical Reflections on Shame and Honor in Asia.”

Jesus continued on, despite the shame, and therefore overcame it, by accepting all that was done to him, knowing that he had a greater purpose.

Marlene comes from a non-Western background, and I think readers would like to hear more about that background. That could be as simple as: what is the word used in the language of Marlene’s people that might translate ‘shame’? What are the further ramifications of the use of that word? How do people understand shame, and how does that fit into, compare, or contrast with, biblical understandings, and contemporary understandings?

What cultures have difficulty talking about shame or putting it into words?

I myself live with and minister to the Luo people of Western Kenya. The Luo language does not seem to have a term that very accurately translates ‘shame’. Wichkuot, literally, ‘head-swell’, is the closest. But it would be inaccurate to say that Jesus suffered from wichkuotWichkuot is perhaps more like embarrassment than shame. I wonder how many languages have this kind of difficulty? That’s the kind of question that might have been helpful to have seen Marlene address.

Are Westerners and Western missionaries as free from the fear of shame as is sometimes made out?

Reading the article has had me reflect deeply on many related issues. It has me questioning – whether Western missionaries are as free from fear of shame as is sometimes made out? Marlene describes graphically and simply, how Jesus continued on despite shame and so overcame shame, by accepting all that was done to him, knowing that he had a greater purpose. Such should characterise more of Christian mission today!

Reviewed by Jim Harries


The latest edition of the journal of the Asian Pacific Theological Seminary, The Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies, is available at


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Category: Biblical Studies, Winter 2018

About the Author: Jim Harries, PhD (University of Birmingham), is professor of religion with Global University and adjunct faculty with William Carey International University. He works closely with a wide variety of churches in western Kenya in informal theological education. These include many African founded churches, Pentecostal churches, and the Coptic Orthodox church. Jim uses indigenous languages, and local resources in his ministry. He chairs the Alliance for Vulnerable Mission and is the author of Vulnerable Mission: Insights into Christian Mission to Africa from a Position of Vulnerability (William Carey Library, 2011), Three Days in the Life of an African Christian Villager (New Generation Publishing, 2011), Theory to Practice in Vulnerable Mission: An Academic Appraisal (Wipf and Stock, 2012), Communication in Mission and Development: Relating to the Church in Africa (Wipf and Stock, 2013), Secularism and Africa: In the Light of the Intercultural Christ (Wipf and Stock, 2015), New Foundations for Appreciating Africa: Beyond Religious and Secular Deceptions (VKW, 2016), The Godless Delusion: Europe and Africa (Wipf & Stock, 2017), and a novel African Heartbeat: And A Vulnerable Fool (2018). Facebook: Vulnerable Mission. Twitter: @A4VM.

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