Self-abasement as an expression of thanks in the Hebrew Bible

Edward J. Bridge*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Self-abasement is commonly used in the Hebrew Bible to express thanks, especially in narrative texts. Using aspects of politeness theory, it is found that, by using self-abasement, a speaker accepts a loss of face and so avoids indebtedness to the hearer, but at the same time increases the hearer's face by showing bow gracious be was to favourably treat the speaker. It is a form of deference, a use of language that increases social distance between bearer and speaker. However, when self-abasement is also used to express thanks to God, avoidance of indebtedness is not in focus, rather God's magnanimity. In prayer, self-abasement is also used to motivate God to grant the request.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-273
Number of pages19
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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