A blog post about Jesus’ encounter with the Syrophoenician woman was drawn to my attention. The blog in question is Wordgazer’s Words and has lots of interesting things on it. The specific post draws on lots of key scholars’ work on the historic and cultural context, and draws the conclusion:
So how do we apply this story to our own lives?
I think that for us today, this story is about how social and religious conventions can perpetuate racial and gender oppression. Oppression hurts more than just those on the receiving end. It hurts the perpetrators too– and we as human beings often find ourselves in both positions. If Jesus went against religious and social convention to set people free from attitudes that restrict and bind themselves and others, shouldn’t His followers do the same?
…while we need to be wary of attempts to make Jesus a 21st century feminist, there is good reason to think that he could have been a first century one. And given the evidence for his inclusive vision of the kingdom of God, it makes sense that some experience of interacting with foreigners and having his assumptions about them challenged would have occurred, and perhaps because of their importance in shaping his views, remembered.
See also my earlier post on the story.