The true meaning of humility persistently drives debate, largely because we cannot agree on the word’s definition. The "correctness" of normative terms matters, and humility carries a distinctive normative weight. How we understand humility is not a matter of mere semantics. It is a pursuit of inquiry with the potential to inform—perhaps even to transform—our lives.
The Joy of Humility takes up this task with a view toward the perennial question of what entails a truly flourishing life. Here, philosophers, theologians, ethicists, and psychologists work to frame the debate in such a way that the conversation can move forward. To model this goal, each chapter prompts a response to which the chapter’s author offers a reply. Part one considers the scope and implications of humility as a contested concept; part two works toward clarity on how to measure humility as a trait and its potential impact on individuals and society.
With contributions from Miroslav Volf, Norman Wirzba, Stacey M. Floyd-Thomas, Jason Baehr, Lisa Sowle Cahill, Don E. Davis, Kent Dunnington, Jane Foulcher, Sarah Gazaway, Jennifer A. Herdt, Elizabeth J. Krumrei-Mancuso, Robert C. Roberts, and Everett L. Worthington Jr., The Joy of Humility offers an engaging discourse for everyone, laypeople and scholars alike, to consider these profoundly human questions. By opening up the space for dialogue to push past ideological and cultural assumptions, this volume challenges us to consider how humility, in calling us to esteem others as integral to our own well-being, opens us up to a life of joy.
“Featuring contributions by theologians, philosophers, and psychologists, The Joy of Humility’s chapters explore such tantalizing topics as womanism, flourishing, and humility; a variation on Luther’s theology of humility; the vocation of the humble; and the role of humility in servant leadership. It is an incisive and insightful collection that pushes our understanding of humility into new and fascinating terrain. I highly recommend it for anyone who wishes to fathom the depths of humility.”
—Nancy E. Snow, Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing, The University of Oklahoma
“This multifaceted engagement with humility brings together ancient and modern wisdom and a range of disciplines in order to explore and argue about this transformative yet controversial virtue. It also offers rich, deep, and challenging material to any readers open to examining themselves, their way of life, and their priorities.”
—David F. Ford, Emeritus Regius Professor of Divinity, University of Cambridge
“This fascinating and comprehensive collection of essays is the single best volume on the state of humility scholarship today. With wise insight and erudite scholarship, contributors guide us through contemporary studies in psychology, key figures and theological texts in the historical and Christian virtue tradition, probing philosophical analyses, and ardent protests against humility’s misuse. Their responses to each other deepen the account each essay offers, offering students of humility a winsome and engaging model of fruitful intellectual exchange.”
—Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung, Professor of Philosophy, Calvin University
“In Christian scripture, thought, and practice, humility is taken for granted as a virtue. At the same time, there is a lack of conceptual clarity about what it means to be a humble person. Even more urgent, the traditional Christian emphasis on humility runs a serious risk of being oppressive, particularly to women and people of color. The Joy of Humility brings together an impressive group of theologians, philosophers, and psychologists for an important interdisciplinary dialogue on humility’s definition(s), practices, and value. Both easy-to-read and learned, this book is essential reading for scholars, students, and practitioners interested in Christian virtue formation.”
—Matthew Wilcoxen, Associate Rector, Church of the Resurrection, Washington, DC