What is humility?

I’ve noticed that the word “humility” is used many times without a uniform definition. In my readings, I’ve seen it deployed in various ways. The concept of humility is why I chose to further my studies. Here’s some questions I’ve been considering that relate to humility:

Is humility a posture, virtue, ethic, something else?

How has rhetoric of humility perpetuated harm, especially on persons who have been continually humiliated in history?

Where is humility placed in theology? Where else might humility be discussed within the theological loci? (From my studies, I see the topic of humility situated within discussions on Christology.)

Is humility identical to kenosis? Why might we need language to differentiate the two?

What do we mean when we say a person is “humble”?

How is humility connected with concepts of the self? How is humility figured in the community?

Who speaks of humility? Who doesn’t speak of humility? Why is this the case?

Is the Christ hymn in Philippians 2 the best example of humility? What biblical texts may be overlooked?

How does humility connect to how we view the great cloud of witnesses? (i.e., how does humility shape how we view historical figures in Christianity? Or does it?)

How does language about humility shape how we view time in general?

When does deploying humility foreclose legitimate critique?

Ana Mercedes’s Power For: Feminism and Christ’s Self-Giving (London: T&T Clark International, 2011) details a view of kenosis that could be helpful for women. She is careful to admit ambiguities and problems related to kenosis and how they’ve been used to maintain a harmful status quo. She figures kenosis as “power for” instead of “power over.” Her work challenges me to think closely about humility.

This is a popular quote about humility. Is it faithful to the Christian tradition and helpful for the marginalized?
This is a popular quote about humility. Is it faithful to the Christian tradition and helpful for persons who have been humiliated? Source

Author: Kate Hanch

I like to laugh, study theology, the church, & Missouri sports. Sister, daughter, wife, Baptist, Christian feminist, friend, minister, PhD student in theology, wanderlust.

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