A Christological Approach to Virtue: Augustine and Humility by Deborah Wallace Ruddy

By Deborah Wallace Ruddy

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117. • 137. • 118. 126 Ibid .. 7. 127 Ibid .. 169. 128 Ibid. 43 the values of antiquity which exclude women from public life and confine their role to the private sphere. 129 Offering a perspective somewhat unique in relation to the previous array of scholars. Roberta Bondi. a Methodist theologian at Emory University. takes up the task of seeking to recover humility from its long-standing misapplications. particularly in reference to women. She treats this topic in her article "Humility: A Meditation on an Ancient Virtue for Modern Christians" (1983) and in her more popular book.

The religious meaning of humility persisted into its early modern English usage but. over time. its theocentric focus began to fade. Through the deism of the 17th century. humility retained its basic association with those who acknowledge their lowliness before God's grandeur. In 1639. the Oxford English Dictionary quotes W. "67 By the 18th century. however. its theocentric orientation and reference had dropped from its official definition. The Oxford English Dictionary cites David Hume's definition of humility.

Women's honor derived from virtues cultivated in the private sphere. Women were honored for their shame manifested in timidity, meekness, modesty. • 37. • 38. 121 Ibid.. 121. • 115· 42 exclusivity, distance from public life, and subordination in social relations. l23 Torjesen explains: The cultural value of shame prescribed the feminine personality as discreet, shy, restrained, and timid, those qualities deemed necessary to 'protect' female sexuality . . Shame, the defining quality of womanhood, was indicated by passivity.

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