Going to the Dogs

The latest in my series on Jesus and the Canaanite Woman for Catholic Weekly.

Here’s a taste:

Last time we focused on the contention that the story of Jesus and the Canaanite Woman could be legitimately read as Jesus learning from the Canaanite Woman as long as it does not involve the contention that he was learning to repent his sin of racism or ethnocentrism. Because Jesus is “like us in all things but sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus never repented the sin of racism for the very good reason that he is the sinless lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29) and therefore had nothing to repent.

But let’s move on with my reader’s take, which argues that Jesus is “ethnocentric to first century Israel”, deliberately “repeats his culture’s stereotype” about the Canaanite Woman and deliberately insults her. He continues:

Please, let’s read this story in context without 2,000 years of theological freight, devotional freight, and emotional freight plus psychological guilt. When he sent the Twelve on mission, the Matthean Jesus directed them to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” and urged them to steer clear of the Gentiles and Samaritans (Matthew 10:5-6).

This kind of argumentation is always problematic to me. Yes, it is true that we need to situate the gospels in their cultural context. But it is stealing a lot of bases to suggest that anybody who does not instantly accept the claims that Jesus is ethnocentric and deliberately insulting the Canaanite Woman is a benighted simpleton weighed down by “theological freight, devotional freight, and emotional freight plus psychological guilt”.

Much more here.

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