Jesus and the Syro-Phoenician Woman (Again)

Jesus and the Syro-Phoenician Woman (Again) March 16, 2020

A couple of years ago I posted some remarks about Jesus and the Syro-Phoenician woman in Mark 7:24-30 largely in response to some things tweeted by the late (and much missed) Rachel Held Evans.

There is a good piece on this recently by Matthew Malcolm, “Did the Syrophoenician Woman Change Jesus’ Mission?” BBR 29.2 (2019): 174-86.

Here’s the abstract:

Recent readings of Mark’s account of Jesus’s interaction with the Syrophoenician woman have frequently emphasized the woman’s role as an agent of change in Jesus’s mission. Dissatisfied with the idea that Jesus was simply testing the woman’s faith, these readings suggest that Jesus’s rejection of the woman’s request was genuine and that she changed his mind, thereby opening Jesus to a widening ministry to Gentiles. This article argues that, while these readings bring important insights, they face two major sets of problems. First, Mark does not present Jesus as being newly open to Gentile mission after this interaction; second, the Markan Jesus does make use of “tests of faith,” particularly related to the provision of bread. Thus, I argue that this passage does indeed relate a particular sort of “test of faith,” though this must be rightly understood.

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