Edwin Judge explains that Western ideas about humility and hypocrisy trace back to the teaching of Jesus.
The Western world prizes humility, I think, because of a powerful psychological doctrine taught by Jesus, and that is that most people who give a good account of themselves and are prominent and important risk being, at heart, frauds.
This is the great eye-opener which Jesus’ teaching delivered to our whole cultural tradition. Everybody in the West, at any rate, now recognises that people who parade themselves are probably bogus. And we cross-question our politicians, for example, and each other, over everything that we do, particularly in public, as to what the real motives are. We assume there will be real motives, and not the ones that are ostensibly given out – particularly in political life, but also in private life. And we search our own hearts, do we not, as to whether we are really just pretending.
And this idea that there’s something wrong with pretence comes exclusively from the teaching of Jesus. And yet the paradox is that if you then say, well, I feel very humble, people will soon expose you also as a pretender.