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« Translating the Imperfect (Monday with Mounce 11) by Bob Mounce | Main | Living on the Seam of History: African Christianity Part 6 My Neighbour's Faith by John Azumah »


Thanks for posting on this. I do wonder, however, whether there is any reason to say "Jesus wasn't haughty" or "Jesus didn't share typical Jewish prejudices against Canaanites" other than a view of Jesus that is potentially in danger of denying his humanity.

I posted on this story on my own blog a while back. I would love to know what you think of what I wrote there, if you have the time to take a look!

Intriguing post, esp. on GR background. I've never been convinced by the view that the Canaanite woman changed Jesus mind about Gentiles. I imagine him saying "Not fitting ... dogs" with a wry smile and inviting her witty reply.

I've often thought that this exchange and others was more about Jesus proving the person's faith rather than the person proving Jesus' compassion. But maybe this is more a reflection of my theology.

thanks James for your comments, especially pointing out the importance of keeping front and center the truth of Jesus' humanity. However, the position that Jesus was fully human does not entail that he was also sinful. My comment about Jesus not being haughty was simply to distinguish these two things. I was confused by the point you put in quotations about Jesus having prejudices against Canaanites as I did not say anything like that in the piece. But when I referred to your blog, I understood that you were connecting my piece with your presentation. I would still suggest that asserting Jesus' full humanity does not necessitate accepting that he evidenced the foibles and sins of humanity ie prejudices. Said another way, Jesus represents true humanity, what humans were intended to be, the second Adam as Paul suggests in Romans 5 and 1 Cor 15. your thoughts?

I know this post is old, but so many people have twisted this passage to make Jesus look as if he was arrogant or even racist.

Here is a post by a scholar who says Jesus was a racist based on this passage:


Thank you for this!

Lynn, thanks for your blog post. However, I feel that Jesus is not being haughty at all; nor is He playing the same social-class games that the 1st century world played.

You are correct that the woman's place of background is the key here. That she was from Syria-Phoenicia meant that she was a wealthy Greek. The wealthier Greeks often referred to the lower-classes as "dogs."

Therefore, I interpret Jesus' words here as a clever way of turning the table on the woman. His sarcastic reply would have caused her to rethink her own worldview. I think it's brilliant.

I prefer this interpretation over most that I have read/heard because I feel that Jesus is always the hero, always the teacher, and always the revealer of the Kingdom of God.

Just my humble opinion. Peace!

Hi Joshua,
thanks for your comment. I'd be interested in the references of wealthy Greeks using 'dogs' for the lower classes. I'm also curious that you assume that because she was from Syria-Phoenicia that she was wealthy. I'm not sure that such a conclusion can be drawn from the story. however, your point that Jews were in this region downtrodden is well taken, but that need not mean that this woman was wealthy. You note that Jesus turned the tables on her - do you think that she came to Jesus expecting to have her request granted? I'm not asking this rhetorically, I think the story is not necessarily clear on this, but if I'm understanding your theory correctly, you are imagining her coming with a posture of arrogance to Jesus. He brings her down a peg or two with his sarcasm - is that your point? My worry with this analysis (if I am getting your meaning correctly here)is that it presents Jesus as teacher in a potentially cruel manner. I'm not sure that as a teacher, I would the situation of a student's daughter's immanent death to bring him/her down in the social sense. And I'd also be interested to get your feedback on this question - do you see it as essential for that woman to understand her own fallenness before Jesus would heal her daughter? You raise some very interesting issues in your comments - thanks very much

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