The Secret History of a Lost Virtue
Christopher M. Bellitto
This cultural history of humility reveals this lost virtue as a secret defense against arrogance and incivility
History demonstrates that when the virtue of humility is cast aside, excessive individualism follows. A person who lacks humility is at risk of developing a deceptive sense of certitude and at worst denies basic human rights, respect, and dignity to anyone they identify as the enemy.
Humility, a cultural history and biography of the idea of humility, argues that the frightening alternative to humility has been the death of civility. In this book, Bellitto explores humility in Greco-Roman history, philosophy, and literature; in the ancient and medieval Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scriptures and sermons; in the Enlightenment; and in contemporary discussions of education in virtue and citizenship. The author encourages readers to recover and reclaim this lost virtue by developing a new perspective on humility as an alternative to the diseases of hubris, arrogance, and narcissism in society.
This book offers a fresh perspective on this lost virtue for readers interested in finding a path to renewed civility.
Prologue The Problem and the Potential
Chapter One: Ancient Notions of Humility
Chapter Two: Humility in a Biblical Key
Chapter Three: A Medieval Golden Age
Chapter Four: The Paradox of Learned Ignorance
Chapter Five: Modernity Forgets—and Starts to Remember
Epilogue Recovering a Lost Virtue
About the Author
"We live in an age of bombast, vitriol, and ego. In the midst of what seems like an endless sea of ‘self’-promotion—and even ‘self’-realization that seems cut off from a grander, more Divine Self—humility is indeed a most urgent virtue. Bellitto’s book is a balm for the heart."—Omid Safi, professor of Islamic studies, Duke University
Dr. Christopher M. Bellitto is professor of history at Kean University in New Jersey, where he teaches courses in ancient and medieval history. With a focus on church history and reform, he has twice won grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. He has been a visiting scholar at Princeton Theological Seminary and a Fulbright specialist at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. Dr. Bellitto serves as series editor in chief of Brill’s Companions to the Christian Tradition and academic editor at large for Paulist Press. He also frequently offers public lectures and comments in the media on church history and contemporary Catholicism.
176 pp., 5 x 8 x .625
176 pp., 5 x 8 x .625