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Thread: The Canaanite Woman.

  1. #1
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    The Canaanite Woman.

    The Canaanite Woman.

    This story from Mark 7: 24-31 is invariably used as an illustration of strong faith, but I think it is more than that. In fact there is a reluctance in many sermons given in church to look beyond this "faith" aspect, as it throws up considerations of the human side of Jesus, and to some, twinges of uneasiness.

    The encounter between Jesus and this woman was such that they both walked away changed, healed and strengthened i.e for the woman, the daughter is healed of demons, for Jesus his thoughts concerning the ministry to the Gentiles will be expanded.

    The story occurs near the latter stages of Jesus' activity around the Sea of Galilee and is directly preceded by Jesus' dispute with the Pharisees over what constituted clean and unclean food.

    It is also important to note that the location is in Gentile territory and potentially dangerous for him as a Jew

    The woman prostrates herself before speaking to Jesus. She is a Greek "lady" i.e of some social status compared to the relatively itinerant Jesus; of Syrophoenician nationality, and a female. Thus she is by Jewish standards at that time, thrice an "outsider."

    She begs for an exorcism for her daughter. The response from Jesus is unexpected and harsh. " Let the children eat first all they want; for it is not right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs." Presumably the "children" are the Jewish race, the "dogs" the non Jews.

    But the retort is not submissive on the part of the woman. " Sir, even the little dogs under the table make a meal of the crumbs that the children give them."

    Using his own degrading metaphor, she boldly turns the tables on Jesus and causes Him to reconsider His position and grant the healing. It is in fact a key passage that compels Jesus to expand His teaching ministry to non-Jews. How appropriate that shortly hereafter Jesus feeds the 4,000 Gentiles.

    What I find fascinating is that here you have a God in a man's body and all the dogma of "He who was without sin" is so untrue. He had a temper and could be rude and abrupt. Mind you, if you knew that your future involved being crucified, then the sheer stress of that and the daily demands made on Him would have caused even gods to be short tempered!

    At the end of the day I can relate to Jesus both as a man and as part of the Trinity. The understanding of the former is the crux to appreciating the latter.

  2. #2
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    An interesting interpretation M, very suitable to our xenophobic and supremacist times.
    "You can always find something better than death."
    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians

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    Registered User Melanie's Avatar
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    Yes, Danik & M, interesting but Jesus wasn't racist, nor angry, nor rude with the Gentile woman. Gentile territory was considered by the religious leaders as "unclean" therefore and would never go there. But Jesus crossed racial/gender lines to go where the people needed him...into Tyre.

    When the Gentile woman approached Jesus for help with her daughter, he wasn't angry when he said, "First let the children eat all they want". The "children" are the Jews who were God's chosen people so Jesus gave them first priority. He said "Salvation comes from the Jews". To explain that...Jesus had to be born somewhere and have a nationality so God chose Israel "through whom all would be blessed" (Genesis 12:3). So Jesus wasn't playing favorites but rather reflecting on God's redemptive plan. Jesus also shared this with the woman at the well.

    Giving the "crumbs to the dogs" referred to those who admit they have sinned (includes everyone making wrong choices that aren't pleasing to God, we're all dogs at those times...I know I am lol), humble themselves, and acknowledge their need of a savior, and repent.

    No one in the Gospel of Mark ever called Jesus "Lord"...only the Gentile woman with the daughter humbled herself and called him Lord. That's the kind of faith Jesus recognizes and rewards. Matthew also mentions this (Matthew 8:5-13). So he healed her daughter.

    Maybe God intended for this story to seem offensive to us at first. Maybe we are supposed to be forced to look more intently into it to understand what God is really saying. Because we know that showing partiality on the basis of someone's race or gender or social standing is wrong. The truth is, this story probably doesn't offend us enough. How often do our actions communicate an "us and them" approach?

    More details here: http://www.lifeway.com/Article/sermo...tiality-mark-7
    Last edited by Melanie; 08-20-2017 at 08:23 PM.
    Live in the sunshine. Swim in the sea. Drink the wild air ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

  4. #4
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Dear Danik
    I find the existing US political situation somewhat reminiscent of shades of Nero with your current presidential incumbent. Back in Roman times Tacitus claims that the people thought the Emperor " compulsive and corrupt" and then of course he had the Christians seized as scapegoats for the Great Fire of Rome, perhaps engineered by himself to clear the way for his planned palatial complex, the Domus Aurea. Any faint linkage threads?

    Dear Melanie
    Sorry, but I beg to differ on a number of your viewpoints. Different wordings in versions of this event can be debated back and forth, but eventually become a value judgement on each persons part.

    Let me take you up on a few of these points:
    1. "Jesus crossed racial / gender lines to go where people needed him .... Tyre." No. In Jewish territory the masses had crowded him. He promised his disciples a rest and needed it himself. Hence, though enemy territory if you will, it offered a chance to reflect, rest and be on his own. You will note that no disciples were present at the meeting with the Canaanite woman. The crossing of the racial lines came after the encounter.
    2. The Greek word "kunarion" can be translated as house dog or puppy. This can be so easily glossed over to evoke friendly images of children's puppies, but does not deviate from the fact that to refer to someone as a dog was insulting. "Cur" was the equivalent in English. So much spin has been put into the different versions I have read regarding this point, even falling back on the argument that Jesus deliberately provoked the woman to get a truer assessment of her faith.
    3. That the woman had great faith, we are in full accord. She also had the guts to make her case cleverly in what she believed to be required for her daughter. Mind you, I must confess to being partial to strong women myself!!

    I suppose the point I keep pressing and which never seems to be fully addressed, is Jesus in a man's body. The Father and the Holy Ghost are spiritual entities. But here was a god in mortal form. Presumably his external senses and appetites were the same as ours: touch, smell, hunger, thirst? Would it not therefore be right to question human frailties as well, however disciplined and enlightened He was?

    Best regards to you both.
    M.
    Last edited by MANICHAEAN; 08-21-2017 at 06:59 AM.

  5. #5
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Dear Manichean and Melanie,
    I usually avoid religious discussions because it almost invariariably leads to one treading unintentionally on someones toes. Whatever point I argue I always say to myself that I don´t know anything about the religion, the upbringing or the mores of who is sitting on the other end of the forum and is going to read this. If I have answered some of M. latest post it is because in this forum of late there have been few discussions at all, and I particularly consider it a sound exercise if one wants to become clear about points of faith and wants to share his reflecions with other people.Specially if these reflections come from a person that has been much around in the world, known different cultures and lead a life that seems not have been very conventional. And who, besides this, has chosen a religion which, at least in my country, is very much bound up with dogmas.

    My answer wasn´t intended to qualify the episode in itself and still less the answer of Jesus, as related there. I merely wanted to point out that depending from where one stands historically and geographically, ones interpretation of the episode may differ.

    With "xenophobic and supremacist times" I intend to describe an atitude which at present seems to be an almost universal way of acessing the differences between people. Fortunatelly there is also a strong counter movement.

    Permit me a small correction M. I´m no US citizen, so it´s not my president you are reffering to. Not that Brasil has anything to boast about it´s present governement.

    Best regards to you both,
    Danik 2016
    Last edited by Danik 2016; 08-21-2017 at 01:20 PM.
    "You can always find something better than death."
    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians

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    TheFairyDogMother kiz_paws's Avatar
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    I am enjoying this discussion very much.
    I had always wondered why Jesus was 'rude/abrupt' with that woman. I thought that possibly he was testing her, and joyfully found her faith immense.
    But anyhow, very good points made here. Thanks all.

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    Watcher by Night mtpspur's Avatar
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    My opinion only but my reading of the Bible it appears that the Lord Christ had a variety of ways of drawing a person out to meet their needs. I suspect His apparent reluctance to bless her immediately was to give her time to reflect on what she was asking and expecting and to onlookers demonstrate the range of His ministry to people. We often request things of God without considering the suitableness of the petition and whether we ask aright or not. I believe He wanted Her to be certain her faith was in Him regardless of what the social customs and correctness may be.

    As to twinges of uneasiness as mentioned in the original post one may well consider why there is not MORE of this reaction to the word of a being who maintains He is God and His every action is true. God always expects us to consider our place as in Adam and Eve--here are you? in the garden of Eden (of course God knew quite well where they were-He wanted THEM to know in what shape they were in) and when we realize Who is asking us our condition, place and needs we can expect grace to carry us thru.

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    the beloved: Gladys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtpspur View Post
    My opinion only but my reading of the Bible it appears that the Lord Christ had a variety of ways of drawing a person out to meet their needs...
    There is a simpler explanation for the response Jesus makes to the Canaanite woman: it is not right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs. Jesus challenges her with what she, her fellow Canaanites and all Jews are know full well. This is the Old Testament status quo.

    And Jesus proceeds to overturn it.
    "Love does not alter the beloved, it alters itself"

  9. #9
    TheFairyDogMother kiz_paws's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtpspur View Post
    My opinion only but my reading of the Bible it appears that the Lord Christ had a variety of ways of drawing a person out to meet their needs. I suspect His apparent reluctance to bless her immediately was to give her time to reflect on what she was asking and expecting and to onlookers demonstrate the range of His ministry to people. We often request things of God without considering the suitableness of the petition and whether we ask aright or not. I believe He wanted Her to be certain her faith was in Him regardless of what the social customs and correctness may be.

    As to twinges of uneasiness as mentioned in the original post one may well consider why there is not MORE of this reaction to the word of a being who maintains He is God and His every action is true. God always expects us to consider our place as in Adam and Eve--here are you? in the garden of Eden (of course God knew quite well where they were-He wanted THEM to know in what shape they were in) and when we realize Who is asking us our condition, place and needs we can expect grace to carry us thru.
    I never thought of it this way, thank you for these words.
    Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty
    ~Albert Einstein

  10. #10
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Manachean, you’re wrong about Jesus needing to learn anything. He is both God and man simultaneously, not one at one time and the other at other times. There are several presuppositions you have to apply for traditional Christian exegesis. Jesus knows the outcome of the situation, and He knows the heart and mind of everyone present. That is a given.

    There are several points here, and I hope I don’t miss any. It is truly a rich passage. The passage in Matthew (Matt 15:21-28) is so much more satisfying than in Mark, but there is nothing exclusionary between the two. Most exegesis speak about Jesus satisfying the persistence of prayer. The woman petitions, the apostles want to send her away, she is persistent and pleads, and Jesus rewards her. The moral is to not give up on prayer.

    Second, the more controversial one is how He calls her a dog. Here the term was a common way for Jews at the time to refer to gentiles, and yes it was derogatory. Now it says that Jesus and the apostles were traveling abroad in gentile country. Do you not think the term “dog” was brought up by the apostles as traveled through? Of course, it was common language. Jesus picks up on the word and uses it to throw back at the apostles. He knows what she will say and how she will pass His test. He’s not teaching her a lesson, and it is absurd to think He is learning a lesson. He is teaching the apostles a lesson. What lesson? That even the gentiles have the means to salvation, and that their supercilious notions of superiority are trivial. Also they will fail their test at the Passion when they abandon Jesus; she does not fail at her test.

    Third, the woman is clearly familiar with the term dog. She swallows her pride and pleads and even accepts it. It is an act of humility. Three chapters later (Matt 18:1-6) the apostles ask Jesus about the ranking of those in heaven.

    1 At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”2 He called a child over, placed it in their midst, 3 and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.
    “Whoever humbles himself like this child…” Humbles oneself is exactly what the woman does. Have you ever had a child and gotten angry at him and he pleaded in the most humble way to avoid that spanking? The woman does exactly that.

    Fourth, and I think the most profound idea. What exactly is Jesus’ passion? He is beaten, spit upon, ridiculed, stripped, and hung on a tree, which in Old Testament values is an incredible stain of humiliation, the absolute most humiliating. And do not think there was a loin cloth around Jesus’ waist when He was on the cross. Stripped naked meant stripped completely naked, and it was meant to be a complete humiliation as you hung up there and died. So Jesus pushing the woman through the humiliation is a means of providing the woman with a mini passion event, sort of a small scale crucifixion and salvation. Why? St. Paul says in his letter to the Galatians (Gal 2:19-20) “I have been crucified with Christ; 20 yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.” Paul has reached a point in his suffering where he has emptied himself of his individuality and has merged with Christ. That is the objective of our Christian lives, to no longer be oneself but to be Christ living inside. Through her humbling, the woman has emptied of herself and has merged with Christ through her faith, just as Paul lives by “faith in the Son of God.” Jesus is thrilled with joy at her response and gives her a wonderful blessing.
    Last edited by Virgil; 10-10-2017 at 10:24 PM.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

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  11. #11
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Dear Virgil

    Please excuse my tardy response from last week. I read what you wrote with great interest, and actually am in full accord with 99% of its content.

    My 1% doubt, ( call it what you will) revolves around the mortal form of Jesus. You cannot just say " He is both God and man simultaneously " without looking at its implications. By having a mans body, He experienced all the sensations, appetites and functions that living in a mans body entails. And this in itself endears me even more to some of the aspects of his life among us e.g. a display of temper in the temple driving out the moneylenders, abruptness, ( one might say frustration?) at times, even with his Disciples or mother.

    I can relate to such whilst still embracing His Divinity.

    Best regards
    M.

  12. #12
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MANICHAEAN View Post
    Dear Virgil

    Please excuse my tardy response from last week. I read what you wrote with great interest, and actually am in full accord with 99% of its content.

    My 1% doubt, ( call it what you will) revolves around the mortal form of Jesus. You cannot just say " He is both God and man simultaneously " without looking at its implications. By having a mans body, He experienced all the sensations, appetites and functions that living in a mans body entails. And this in itself endears me even more to some of the aspects of his life among us e.g. a display of temper in the temple driving out the moneylenders, abruptness, ( one might say frustration?) at times, even with his Disciples or mother.

    I can relate to such whilst still embracing His Divinity.

    Best regards
    M.
    Hi Manichean. I'm even tardier than you. I'm just seeing this now. Yes, I agree, Christ experiences everything that a man would, but the part I took issue with in your comment is He learning a moral truth, that He learned not to be prejudice.

    If you agree He is both God and man at the same time (dual nature established at the Council of Nicaea in 325 but it's quite evident in the Gospels) then the issue is what does it mean to have that dual nature. I don't think we as limited humans can fully conceptualize that dual nature. It's sort of like a platypus. One can conceptualize a mammal's life and one can conceptualize a duck's life, but what's platypus's life like? I don't really know.

    Does Christ learn? I suppose He learned how to speak and how to be a carpenter at the feet of His step father. But did He need to learn? I think of it as a choice, similar to the choice He had while on the cross. From Mark 15:29-32

    29Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying,i “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days,
    30save yourself by coming down from the cross.”
    31Likewise the chief priests, with the scribes, mocked him among themselves and said, “He saved others; he cannot save himself.
    32Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also kept abusing him.

    Now does Christ have the power to come down from the cross? We know He does and chose not to. Does Christ have the power to not need to learn? Yes. He certainly was brilliant as a twelve year old boy in Luke 2:41-46 when He was found at the Temple discussing scripture with the rabbis.

    The problem I have in stating Christ had to learn not to be prejudice is that He would have sinned beforehand. Christ cannot sin. It is a non sequitur to say Christ sinned. He never gives into any of the temptations that are placed in front of Him in any of the Gospel passages, and though not in the Gospels, Hebrews summarizes Christ's nature in this way (Heb 4:14-15):

    14Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.
    15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.

    Christ may be man but He is not like us. The central point of the Gospels is not to provide a biography or to tell us a history - though it may do that as a secondary effect - the point of the Gospels is to answer the question, Who is Jesus? Matthew puts it most clearly (Matt 16:13-17)

    13When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi* he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
    14They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
    15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
    16Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
    17Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.

    That realization is the central message of all four Gospels. If God is all good, as we Christians conceptualize God, and Jesus is God, then He has to be all good by definition. And if He has the power to choose what He learns, then He can't choose to learn through a sin. He is the author of moral truth, He doesn't need to learn it. Does that make sense?
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    Books are embalmed minds.

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

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