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Source: (consider it) Thread: Jesus had to transcend His culture too?
Martin60
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Or was He just using a racist trope with the Syrophoenician woman omnipotently knowing the outcome before He started?

He couldn't possibly have been that human?

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Barnabas62
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I think it's Kerygmania. A discussion about the meaning of Mark 7:24ff.

Will check with Keryg Hosts.

B62, Purg Host.

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pydseybare
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Good question, Martin. I'm also interested to contemplate the Jesus who could make a mistake. What does perfection mean if he could forget something? What does humanity mean if he knew everything?

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StevHep
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A similar question was posed in a discussion on the Guardian site a few years ago, Was Jesus Judgemental? I responded at the time and then reproduced my response in this blog post which said in part
quote:
The episode reminded me of the earlier event at Cana in Galilee where our Lord responded to our Lady's prayer "they have no wine" by saying My hour has not come yet and then going ahead and changing water into wine thus inaugurating His public ministry in response to His blessed mother's prayer. Here Jesus responds to the Canaanite woman's plea 'Lord, Son of David, take pity on me.' by saying I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. As before He is laying out His game plan. He is the fulfilment of the Mosaic Law therefore His religious mission is only directly relevant to those people who embrace the Law or are embraced by it. Once the Law is fulfilled it becomes universal until then it is particular.
Undeterred the woman says 'Lord help me' which leads to the famous retort It is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to little dogs. Let us be clear. The Law points to a community which is pure and an outside world which is impure, unclean. Our Lord is correctly restating that perspective. The things of the world are at enmity with the things of God and the community of the Law was a visible (and deeply flawed) image of the purity of God in relation to which the world was an image (profoundly accurate) of those things and people which are impure. It would be an affront to give what is pure to those who would make it impure simply by touching it. First the receiver of the gift must be purified and then the gift can be given. And gentiles could only be purified by being washed in the Blood of the Lamb not yet shed at this point.
Once more the woman was undeterred. 'Ah yes, Lord; but even little dogs eat the scraps that fall from their masters' table.' Her persistence in prayer, her faith and the compassion of Jesus combine to produce the desired and expected result her daughter is cured. The cure consists of having a demon cast out of her which is symbolic in itself but I shall not dwell on that in this context. Now we have the next resonance with the Cana episode. After turning the water into wine there was no looking back. Our Lord went on to the full flowering of His Galilean ministry. After healing the Canaanite woman He goes on deeper into gentile territory.

I suppose it might also be worth considering that both in this case and at Cana as well as in the case of the widow of Naim and the sisters of Lazarus it was women who prompted Jesus to act in ways which were not only powerful acts but also powerfully symbolic.

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Martin60
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My favourite 'mistake' of Jesus is when He took two goes to give a blind man sight, the first accompanied by open doubt.

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Barnabas62
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Off to Kerygmania you go.

B62 Purg Host

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Taliesin
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Well, I'm very glad you started it in purg, or I would never have seen it. What a brilliant article.
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Barnabas62
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Here is a link to Mark Chapter 7. I've used the Blue Letter Bible so you can have a look at the Greek if you want to do that as well. Just click on the button marked "tools" for any particular verse and you'll get the interlinear translation.

I wonder also what it tells us about Mark, or possibly (following tradition) Simon Peter who rapped to him about his experiences accompanying Jesus. As well as Jesus himself.

There is also an interesting iconoclastic trope at work in our time! Jesus can't really have been without fault can he?

I recognise StevHep' point about the marriage at Cana being early. But Mark doesn't have that story. I think in terms of Mark's gospel this is the first recorded encounter between Jesus and a Gentile. [There is some doubt about the Gerasene demoniac (who wasn't in his right mind anyway) but there were a lot of Gentile cities and settlements on "the other side of the Lake".]

But I think this is the first recorded conversation in the Mark narrative of which we can say for sure, this is a recollection of Jesus talking to a Gentile. I feel sure there must have been others, but this one has been singled out for particular recall by Simon Peter in his conversations with Mark.

Why was it significant? I think because it showed to Simon Peter that Jesus' mission was not just to the lost children of Israel, but had a wider purpose. These forays to "the other side of the Lake" pre-figured the whole mission to the Gentile world, of which there are signs in the gospels of course, but the real flowering of that is recorded in Acts.

Happy to be proved wrong in that, if anyone can find an earlier clear reference in Mark of a conversation between Jesus and someone clearly identified as a Gentile. I couldn't see one myself.

Did Jesus use the term κυνάριον kynarion (little dogs) to describe Canaanites or Syrophoenicians. I think he probably did. Peter, who had had his own Epiphany about the conversion of the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius, seems unlikely to have recalled this wrong.

What Jesus is definitely doing is identifying with his Jewish disciples at this point; The Jews were the "chosen children of God" and you can't help but feel that this "little dog" term (and probably others) were in colloquial use. It also looks as though the Greek Syrophoenician woman knows the term is commonplace because she uses it herself in pressing her claim. I'm not quite sure what that means; perhaps it was some kind of recognition that Jesus, a Jew, was healing Jews and although not a Jew she desperately needed for a daughter to get "a piece of the action". So for the sake of her daughter, she made a leap of faith. Despite the fact that I am not "one of the Chosen by God" maybe this man can heal my daughter anyway?

She packed a lot of meaning into those few words. And Jesus, recognising what she recognised, that he might, just might, have a healing mission to Gentiles to, acknowledges the truth in her heart and passes on the very good news that a) he has heard her heart and b) that her daughter has been healed.

What do you think she will have remembered out of that conversation and the result? That Jesus, although clearly a Jew, was actually there for her and her daughter too. That he had crossed a well known barrier and stepped into her world. I doubt whether the "little dogs" word was nearly as significant to her as that. Nor nearly as significant as it looks to us 20 centuries later.

And what did it mean to Peter. The first awakening of the thought that Jesus' mission was much bigger than he realised. It is interesting that the "Messianic secret" is noted in the text, just before this story. This was a major revealing of an aspect of the Messianic secret that was certainly not understood by the disciples at first, but had revolutionary impacts later.

So what was Jesus thinking? I dont really know. It just looks like a lot of very good fruit came from his use of a "racist trope". Somethings to mull over, maybe.

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Anglican_Brat
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Sara Miles in a homily she did at St Gregory of Nyssa preached provocatively that God healed Jesus of racism.

The issue with that Christologically is that it runs in contradiction with the "Jesus without sin" bit.

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Freddy
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard:
Or was He just using a racist trope with the Syrophoenician woman omnipotently knowing the outcome before He started?

He couldn't possibly have been that human?

I think that this is a case of seeing someone else's culture through our own cultural lens. Attributing bigotry to others has become a favorite cultural pastime in the West.

Like smokers who quit and drive their friends crazy, we, who have historically been the most vicious bigots the world has ever known, now see it under every rock and behind every bush.

Racism and stereotypes, and the mindset from which they originate, vary enormously from culture to culture.

All cultures use terms and stereotypes to characterize groups of people both within their culture and outside of it. The degree of negativity attached to those terms, however, vary quite a bit.

When I lived in West Africa I was almost universally addressed by the local word for "white man". The term had slightly negative connotations, but West African culture is so warm, affectionate, and welcoming that it never occurred to me to take offense.

I wouldn't claim that 1st century Jewish culture necessarily had that same warmth, but it is hard for us to judge the degree of insult and animosity that Jesus' words would have involved.

For example I am not very familiar with current Middle Eastern terms and stereotypes, but I understand that it is common for even the most friendly exchanges to be replete with emphatic statements along the line of "You fool, you know nothing!" My understanding, which may be wrong, is that "infidel" is a common Islamic way of referring to any stranger, and does not necessarily convey any particular malice.

My point is just that it is hard for us to judge Jesus' words because of our own tortured cultural legacy of racism.

But a more important point to me is that the distinction Jesus is making is between those who were Jews and those who were not. Jesus makes this distinction in order to highlight the good qualities of those who are traditionally seen as less-than.

He refers to this distinction in many passages in the gospels. The amazing thing is that in almost every case the comparison is made to point out the virtues of the Gentiles.

For example:
quote:
Matthew 8:10 (Of the Centurion) “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! 11 And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Matthew 21:43 “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it."

Luke 10 - The Good Samaritan

Luke 17:15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. 17 So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? 18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”

Matthew 11:23 And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.

Far from being racist, Jesus goes out of His way to point out the virtues of the Gentiles.

The larger point is that the truth, and the love that it teaches, often finds more acceptance with those who are outside the church than those within, who are supposedly the "sons of the kingdom."

So I would say that Jesus' words to the Syro-Phoenician woman were spoken in order to highlight this important distinction, not as a racial slur.

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Martin60
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Fault? Being human is 'faulty'? That's not a dichotomy I'd dream of falsely imposing on Jesus. And yes we are 'fallen', incapable of rising without Him.

I've rationalized away His inculturation myself up until ... days ago in this instance.

Or was He using the culture against itself again, as He did all the time?

And I oscillate (vacillate?) now. You pushed back Barnabas62, and I want you to, this has to be tested to destruction. But my antithetical swing back is in my opening, one word question.

If my naïve postmodernism makes me project wrongly back from this end of the telescope, I want that extirpated. And I am uncertain.

But I'm uncertain the other way too. I'm MOST attracted not to Jesus the sinner in my own image, but to Jesus the Son of God bursting out of the shackles of His culture.

Transcending His humanity and taking us with Him. To the point where we can see further humanly now in part then He could in part humanly then?

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leo
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quote:
Originally posted by Anglican_Brat:
Sara Miles in a homily she did at St Gregory of Nyssa preached provocatively that God healed Jesus of racism.

The issue with that Christologically is that it runs in contradiction with the "Jesus without sin" bit.

Only if racism is a sin at a certain stage of development.

Jesus could have been perfect at each stage in his, life. You don't expect a teenager to have the same insights and values as a 30 year old, nor the 30 year old of the 65 year old.

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Barnabas62
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard:
You pushed back Barnabas62, and I want you to, this has to be tested to destruction.

I think it all depends what you make of this, Martin

quote:
She packed a lot of meaning into those few words. And Jesus, recognising what she recognised, that he might, just might, have a healing mission to Gentiles too, acknowledges the truth in her heart and passes on the very good news that a) he has heard her heart and b) that her daughter has been healed.
Maybe that was a place and a time when his vision of Himself was confirmed? Maybe there was some self-realisation? A light unto the Gentiles as well as "the glory of my people Israel"?

Hard to understand our belief in fully God, fully man, isn't it? Is that incompatible with Jesus having his own epiphanies? Moments of sudden and great revelation, realisation?

About the only thing we know about Jesus' not knowing was the time of His return. But that does suggest that a measure of not-knowing was a part of being fully human? Like the not-knowing that that particular colloquialism was at odds with the fulness of his mission? Not crumbs from under the table but a place at the table?

I'm not a good enough theologian to work out how that thought coheres or contradicts our orthodox understanding of his nature. "Our God contracted to a span, incomprehensibly made man."

I can leave it there, Martin. Looks to me like He moved on from that point, whether of not he knew before that he would.

That's Mark's order of events of course. Mustn't forget that.

[ 15. February 2014, 17:01: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

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Martin60
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Dang you're good Barnabas62. Thank you. And leo too. And I'm not being 'kind'. All the paradoxes seem nicely tensioned.

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pydseybare
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Is this a good point to wheel out Luke 3:22? According to some ancient versions, and a good few ancient accounts, the 'original' words read ‘You are my beloved Son; with You I am well pleased.’ ‘Today I have begotten You.’

Scholars speculate that this may have been the reflection of the beginning of an argument about adoptionism, although the passage from which it appears to be quoted, Psalm 2:7 is the latter, rather than the standard reading of the passage.

The idea of Jesus 'becoming' the Christ is a bit mind-blowing.

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Martin60
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'strewth!

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Anglican_Brat
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This article directly speaks to this thread:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/sarahoverthemoon/2014/02/was-jesus-progressive-for-his-time/

I agree with her that if incarnation means anything, it must mean that Jesus would be shaped by the culture that he grew up with.

In the sense, I think he learned to be more inclusive and accepting over time. I read once that in regards to the Syro-Phoenician woman, the Jews had reason for their distrust of the Syro-Phoenicians. The Phoenician woman of the Old Testament was Jezebel and the Canaanite connections brought back memories of Israel's idolatry and their subsequent humiliation at the hands of their foreign occupiers. Here, I think it is good to think of Jesus developing his understanding over time rather than insisting that he was this perfect egalitarian prophet from day one.

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Barnabas62
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From the link Anglican_Brat provided I noticed this.

There was an interesting comment re Sarah's interpretation. Scroll down and read Wayne. He suggests that the Syrophoenian woman might have been wealthy and a representative of colonial oppression? Well, she was Greek and the Greeks had ruled in that area. But by Jesus time, it was simply part of the Roman Empire, and Greeks, Jews and native Phoenicians were all subject to Roman rule. So I don't think Wayne's argument stands up.

Sarah's view is worth reading but I think she makes the equal and opposite mistake to the one she justly criticises in folks who would redefine Jesus as a kind of prophet for 20/21 century progressive values. Jesus the man has to be understood as a human being in his own culture first, before we do any reading across.

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A.Pilgrim
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quote:
Originally posted by leo:
Jesus could have been perfect at each stage in his, life. You don't expect a teenager to have the same insights and values as a 30 year old, nor the 30 year old of the 65 year old.

Jesus is reported as having, at the age of 12 and therefore even before his teenage, sufficient understanding to amaze the teachers in the temple: Luke 2:46-52; understanding that even exceeded that of his parents. So what we might expect of teenagers doesn't seem particularly relevant to the case of Jesus.
Angus

P.S. I hope to post about the main subject of the thread in a short while.

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Moo

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quote:
Originally posted by A.Pilgrim:
Jesus is reported as having, at the age of 12 and therefore even before his teenage, sufficient understanding to amaze the teachers in the temple: Luke 2:46-52; understanding that even exceeded that of his parents. So what we might expect of teenagers doesn't seem particularly relevant to the case of Jesus.

But when his mother reproached him for causing anxiety about his whereabouts, his reply was entirely typical of a twelve-year-old. "Didn't you know what I'd be doing?"

His understanding of theology was much better than that of most adults, but he had no more understanding of his parents than the average twelve-year-old.

Moo

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Golden Key
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Re: the Syro-Phoenecian woman--

I've long figured that she and Jesus were sharing a joke, and putting on a little skit for the disciples. *He* knew that she was worthwhile, and she could see that. But they also knew the prejudice that she faced. So, signaled by perhaps just an eye gleam and wink, they set out to make a point.

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Lamb Chopped
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I've thought something a bit similar, but more along these lines. The woman is a desperate mother (obviously) and she has a very dogged faith (not surprising, under the circumstances). Jesus, knowing that this is one petitioner who isn't going to give up no matter what, has already settled in his mind from the very beginning that he's going to grant her request. I mean, come on. A woman, a child, the down and outers of society--it's so totally Jesus, it's a cliche. So.

But the ones he's concerned about are the disciples. At this point they've been with him how long? and they are still the semi-clueless, racist, occasional arsewipes that he started with. So he takes this occasion to see if, er, any of them can be persuaded to rise above that standard.

So instead of doing the cliche Jesus thing ("Sure, I'll heal your child. Go in peace"), he for once in his lifetime acts exactly as the disciples want him to. He ignores her, walks away from her, calls her a dog, etc. etc. etc. A picture perfect holy rabbi (in their opinions). And then he watches the disciples out of the corner of his eye to see if any of them will take up the challenge of interceding for the woman--or at the very least, saying: "Lord, you're acting kinda weird today. Not yourself, somehow."

Basically, it's a test. (Remember, he can afford to do this because he knows darn well the woman isn't going anywhere until she gets what she wants. The most she will suffer is a few more seconds of uncertainty. And who knows, she may have already read in his eyes what the true answer will be.)

The disciples, well, they fail dismally. Instead of interceding, they egg him on. They say, "Lord, she's bugging us with all her caterwauling, won't you get rid of her so we can have some peace?" Totally. wrong. reaction.

He tries again, with the totally outrageous and out-of-character dog slur. And still they don't say anything! Jesus gives up, reverts to type, praises the woman's faith, and grants her request.

Another day, another disappointment. But the disciples will get it in the end. In the VERY end. (some of them are still struggling, in fact)

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Belle Ringer
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The Book says Jesus grew in wisdom and stature. Luke 2:52. Grew in stature is obvious - from baby to adult physical size. Grew in wisdom can be less obvious if ya get hung up on the "fully God" part and think a newborn baby had such unbaby-like abilities he was actively running the universe from his manger-crib.

I figure this incident is a glimpse of his growing in wisdom.

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Golden Key
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LC--

Yeah, I think we're pretty close in our interpretation.

And it sounds like something that the Jesus of the movie "Godspell" would pull--playful, funny, and a serious teacher. Some of the best interpretations of the parables that I've ever come across. (Recently saw it again, for the first time in decades.)

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Barnabas62
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Lamb Chopped

Are there any other illustrations in the gospels of Jesus testing his disciples in this way. I can think of plenty of illustrations of Jesus being tested.

Your explanation has some very obvious attractions! But there is one aspect of it that I don't find attractive. If Jesus' behaviour was as you say, even for the purpose of teaching a lesson, it was temporarily deceptive. You believe he projected something which wasn't really him. In a good cause maybe. But isn't that a case of the end justifying the means? The straightforward picture in Mark and Matthew is of Jesus informing the disciples that he was sent to the lost sheep of Israel; this is a kind of concession. Matthew 15:24 has Jesus actually telling the disciples "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel". Not first; only. The disciples may be forgiven for being confused; according to Matthew, given your take, Jesus confused them! The most straightforward reading of the stories in Matthew and Mark is that Jesus changed his mind when he recognised the woman's great faith (Matt 15:28).

The reason for our interpretative problem lies elsewhere. In Luke, from the very start, Jesus is proclaimed, by Simeon, in the hearing of Mary and Joseph who marvel at it, that this child will be "a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of his people Israel". And in John, Jesus mssion from the very start is to "the world". He is the Lamb of God who takes away "the sin of the world".

But of course they do not have this story. Not for the first time , we come up against the conundrum, "what are to make of Jesus"? But of course, the more important question is "what does Jesus make of us?" Or even more importantly "how do we become re-made in him?"

Is there any real doubt in our minds that God accepts people from every tribe and tongue, every land? To quote Desmond Tutu "All, all, all!"

If we know that for ourselves, does it really matter whether Jesus knew it from the start, or there was a day when he had a full revelation of "all, all, all"? I think we can leave that question open for now, in the light of the four gospels. There is no harm in having some of our questions unanswered! I'm not even sure if the orthodox "fully God and fully man" resolves the matter.

[ 16. February 2014, 07:34: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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StevHep
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Barnabas62
quote:
In Luke, from the very start, Jesus is proclaimed, by Simeon, in the hearing of Mary and Joseph who marvel at it, that this child will be "a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of his people Israel"
This is an echo of Isaiah
quote:
6 I the Lord have called thee in justice, and taken thee by the hand, and preserved thee. And I have given thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles:

Isaiah 42

So clearly the people of Israel were expecting their Messiah to have such a role but not in the same way that we as Christians might interpret it. If the Messiah was one who restored the glories of the Davidic kingdom and was endowed with the wisdom of a Solomon then he could be thought of as a light to the Gentiles in the sense of demonstrating that the God of Israel was the one true God and that the children of Israel had a unique covenant relationship with Him. So the Gentiles would be enrolled as worshippers of the Lord but in a subsidiary and supplicant position Vis-à-vis the Israelites.

The point at which Jesus grew in wisdom to grasp beyond that expectation and see that His mission involved incorporating the Gentiles into a New Israel is a matter of speculation. He did say that Salvation is of the Jews (Jn 4:22) and that certainly would have been the expectation not only of His disciples but also of pretty much all the Jews to whom He preached. Had He begun His mission by proposing for belief all that we who know the end of it understand His project to have been He would have got no following at all. His mission had to unfold its purposes in a progressive manner in order for Him to build up a devoted following who could carry that mission on after the Easter events.

In some ways it is rather like the trajectory of Beatles albums. Fans who followed the band all the way from the first pop albums through to Abbey Road went on a remarkable musical journey who's end was very different from the beginning and could not be foreseen but which was rooted in the complex personalities of the creative songwriters of the band. Of course the Beatles had no idea at the beginning what the end would be and to some extent Jesus, who is definitely still bigger than the Beatles, did.

I incline to the believe that, like the Cana episode, our Lord had clearly decided to follow a particular path, in the one case the public performance of miracles and in the other the extending of His mission to the Gentiles. What He was undecided about was when to do so. He needed to encounter an event that would precipitate the change of direction, to act as a catalyst. In one instance it was His inability to refuse a request from His mother and in another it was His inability to resist an appeal to His compassion. Something similar happened when He took His disciples for a quiet retreat and ended up healing, teaching and feeding thousands of others instead. It might be useful to bear that episode in mind when considering this one of the Syro-Phoenician woman. Mark 6:31-44

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Barnabas62
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Fair point, StevHep. It is certainly possible to see a growing understanding of the meaning of "light to the Gentiles" regardless of Simeon's most beautiful prayer as recorded in Luke.

John's gospel is another matter, but then it always is!

Your observation that Jesus may have "grown in wisdom" in his life, not least as a result of the challenges of situations he faced, is a very helpful, even if it is a matter for speculation how that happened. I find it very encouraging to think that the challenges we face are also opportunities for us to "grow in wisdom" too.

I found your post very helpful indeed.

[ 16. February 2014, 08:48: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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Martin60
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A superb double act you two, and it couldn't have happened without stimulus from LC. One of those expanding turbulent stream threads full of yin-yang eddies like A.Pilgrim and Moo.

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Freddy's earlier warning (about the danger of seeing someone else's culture through our own cultural lens) is a good one here. Jesus was not devoid of (then) appropriately contemporary rhetoric. Just before the section on the Greek Phoenician, Mark records Jesus' language use when talking to Pharisees and disciples (hypocrites, dull...) and it too is not out of context for the place and time.

A question on the back of this would be: Why do Mark and Matthew include the record of such terminology as 'dog' here? Surely by the time they were writing their gospels the Jesus community incorporated both Greeks and Jews, and so it seems appropriate to ask why these authors would apparently run the risk of working up old divisions and contempt if the gospel was supposed (now) to be for the whole world.

Options for answers include:
[1] Only Paul emphasised the “No Greek and Jew...” line and this applied in areas that Mark and Matthew didn't reach
[2] There were no Greek Phoenicians in the church by the time the gospels were written, so no one in the audience cared if that group of people were insulted in the grand old way
[3] Mark and Matthew actually intended to portray Jesus as one who was struggling to overcome prejudices on his way to glory
[4] The rhetoric was not considered debasing at the time

I'm pretty sure that Mark (and Matthew) would not have been unaware of the impact of language use and would have known if a term like 'dog' was derogatory or not, so the question of its use in the gospel is the one I find interesting. It's not an issue tackled in the OP-linked article.

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Today in the church it was telling us about how Jesus taught properly people.

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Lamb Chopped
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I don't think the scenario I laid out implies deceit (the morally bad kind, I mean) anymore than sarcasm, hyperbole or metaphor are lying. It's a teaching method, is all. One where the misdirection lasts only a few minutes at most before the real point becomes apparent.

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Barnabas62
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I suppose, Lamb Chopped, I expect the usual direct approach - something along the lines of "how long must I be with you?" Mark's recollection of Jesus presents us with Jesus at his most direct. Seems likely that accounts based on the recollections of Simon Peter would be like that. He confronts his disciples, the teachers of the law, even his own family. I don't see him employing this kind of teaching mode elsewhere in his encounters with others. You may be right of course; we do not have a record of his mind at work at this point.

But I'll back off "deceptive" in favour of "a much less direct way of teaching the disciples than I would have expected from the rest of Mark's account of Jesus".

By contrast, his approach to the women seems very direct, "I'm not here for you, you know" and she answers him in kind "I know you're not, and I've got a cheek to ask, but maybe you can see your way to helping me anyway?". That's the way we talk "oop North".

B62 fallible "sitz im leben" translation service at work of course; that's how it hits me.

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A.Pilgrim
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As with many NT passages, I am indebted to Kenneth Bailey for a revealing insight into this passage. (See Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes pp.217-226). Bailey’s commentary elaborates and expands a theme already touched on by Golden Key and Lamb Chopped earlier in this thread, in that Jesus uses the interaction with the Syrophoenician woman to teach the disciples an important lesson. This exegesis relies on the parallel passage in Matthew’s gospel ch.15 vv21-28 rather than the Markan passage referenced in the blog post linked to in the OP.

Jesus was aware of the mutual contempt held by the Jews and the gentile inhabitants of the area of Tyre and Sidon. But he didn’t correct the attitude held by the disciples by giving them a stern lecture about the evils of negative racist stereotyping, but took a far more subtle approach (an example that at least one shipmate could take good note of).

Here was a woman who the disciples despised and wanted rid of (v.23b), but Jesus had recognised a determination in her, and an uncommon attitude for a gentile – she had addressed him by the Jewish title ‘Son of David’ (v.22) as well as the title of respect ‘Lord’ (kurie). What he then did was to treat the woman openly with the attitude held secretly by the disciples, and by verbalising it confronted the disciples with the truth about themselves – with the unspoken question to them: Are you going to be open and candid about your attitude, and hold to it, or be ashamed of it?

Jesus was perceptive enough to see that the determined faith of the woman was such that he could set her a challenge, and she would rise to it. (There are several examples in the gospels where Jesus is reported as knowing the secrets of people’s hearts.) So when he spoke aloud the hidden prejudices of the disciples: ‘Is it right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the puppies?’ she didn’t get deflected into taking offence, but stayed focussed on her primary purpose of seeking healing for her daughter, and her belief that Jesus could meet her need. In humility she accepted the slur but turned it adeptly, with wit and intelligence, into a response that Jesus could satisfy her needs in addition to feeding the children of Israel.

She entirely succeeded in rising to the challenge that Jesus had set for her. Indeed, her response can be seen as her getting the better of Jesus in the interaction. It is worth at this point thinking about what the disciples would have felt at the time. Were they pleased to hear Jesus verbalising their prejudices, or were they embarrassed? It can be acutely embarrassing to have ones deepest prejudices verbalised to the very people who are the targets of those prejudices, rather than merely verbalising them between ones colleagues in the absence of the people who are the objects of those prejudices. And then, when the woman gave what is in effect a subtle put-down to Jesus, she gave by association a put-down to the disciples as well, because Jesus had identified with the disciples in verbalising their prejudices, so the disciples were identified with Jesus in being the objects of the put-down.

Then the final comment by Jesus ‘Great is your faith’ was an affirmation of the woman’s value, and a rejection of the prejudices held by the disciples (in common with their contemporary society).

There is an interesting section of this blogpost in which the interaction between Jesus and the woman is analysed as a challenge and response within a society in which honour and shame were a vital social currency. I hope to summarise the analysis accurately as follows. The woman had brought shame (dishonour) on herself by addressing a strange man in public, to which the correct social response was for the man to ignore her – which Jesus initially did (v.23a).

However, when the woman persisted in her approach, Jesus engaged her with a challenge, which was something that normally was only done in male-to-male discourse. In other words, Jesus raised her status by treating her as being equal to a man. When she then got the better of him with her response, she won her case and thereby had her honour restored, as well as having her request granted. The sequence of interactions can be seen as raising the status of the woman from 1) ignoring her as shameful; to 2) seeing her as equal to a man by giving her a challenge to respond to; to 3) establishing her status and honour when she gets the better of Jesus with an adept and intelligent response.

So here we can see two humble people. The woman is humble enough to side-step the offence of the ‘little dogs’ slur in order to remain focussed on the main object of her need, and Jesus is humble enough to give her the opportunity to get the better of him in a challenge/response interaction which gave her honour and status. In contrast it is the disciples who have their proud superiority punctured and deflated.

So no, I don’t believe that Jesus was an ignorant man of his time who had to be taught a lesson by a gentile woman. I particularly repudiate the comment of David R. Henson when he writes:
quote:
Jesus is astounded, the holy wind knocked out of him. A moment before, she was but a dog to him. In the next, the scales fall from his eyes as he listens to her and sees her for what she truly is, a woman of great faith, a moral exemplar, his teacher.
which I view as demeaning of and insulting to the Son of God who I follow as a disciple. Jesus came to be a light to the gentiles; he did not come in need of enlightenment by them.

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Barnabas62
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A Pilgrim

Not so much an issue of devotion, but do you think it is possible that Jesus, both fully human and the second Person of the Trinity, "grew in wisdom" during his earthly ministry as well as before it?

In short, did he have epiphanies which clarified and confirmed his self-understanding as a man? If that can happen without contradicting Christian orthodoxy (and I'm honestly not sure about that) why could this not have been one of those clarifying times?

That seems to be the real interpretative issue. One of the mysteries of the Incarnation is how Jesus learned and what he learned. What does Luke 2:51-52 mean?

quote:
51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
No more "growing in wisdom" at what point in his early life?

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A.Pilgrim
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Barnabas62 - The short response is that I think it's difficult (or even impossible) to say for sure, as there doesn't seem to be any evidence in the gospels after Luke 2:52.

It's rather like the question, if we consider the psychological developmental stages of children, as to when Jesus could have become aware that he had a heavenly Father as well as his earthly adoptive father, Joseph. As you said: 'One of the mysteries of the Incarnation is how Jesus learned and what he learned.' Indeed, a mystery hidden from us.

Speaking entirely speculatively, I would have thought that by the time Jesus started his ministry, the combination of the relationship with his heavenly Father, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as given at the time of his baptism by John, and his own perfect human/divine nature, would have provided an entirely sufficient preparation. And even if he didn't have complete foreknowledge of everything that would happen to him during his ministry, he had the resources to deal with anything and everything. I can't think of any examples of Jesus being fazed or wrong-footed by something he encountered.

Angus

[ 21. February 2014, 20:41: Message edited by: A.Pilgrim ]

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Barnabas62
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quote:
Originally posted by A.Pilgrim:

I can't think of any examples of Jesus being fazed or wrong-footed by something he encountered.

Is an "I see" moment, a time when we have been fazed or wrong-footed? I think the 21st century view of this event could be completely wrong in assuming that the woman was, for example, insulted. She certainly wasn't wrong-footed herself! That is one of the really impressive aspects of the story.

Also, there are uses of θαυμάζω thaumazō (wondered, marvelled) by Jesus in the Synoptics. He marvelled at the lack of faith of folks in his home town, and he marvelled at the faith of the centurion. It's a strong word; it's used by the disciples about Jesus when he calms the storm.

Jesus expressing wonderment, as well as creating it! There seems to me to be the possibility of a similar reaction here. A sense of wonder that this Gentile expresses a depth of faith, in sharp contrast to the lack of faith he experienced in his home community from his own people.

They all look like learning experiences to me.

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A.Pilgrim
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Barnabas62, sorry I didn't get back to you on this before now. I've just read the Incarnation thread in Purg, and it seems that the formulation you posted in your second post satisfies me, so I guess whatever differences of view we might have had are so small as to be insignificant.

I would say that there was no inadequacy in Jesus's knowledge and understanding for his ministry, but the relinquishing of omniscience associated with the incarnation meant that on some non-essential points his awareness could grow with time, such as in the occasions when he wondered or marvelled about what he encountered.

Angus

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Ported over from a similar thread in Purgatory

quote:
Originally posted by jrw:
Jesus appears to have a prejudice against a woman in great need in this story (Mark 7-25, Matthew 15-21). I don't find it easy to dismiss as historically inaccurate either. I would be very grateful to be proven wrong though.

quote:
Originally posted by Stetson:
Since I'm guessing that this thread will eventually be deemed kergymaniacal...

Matthew 15 21 - 28

Mark 7 24 - 30

quote:
Originally posted by Stetson:
As to the topic, if I may pry for a bit...

What is it that you find problematic about the story? That it shows Jesus initially exhibitng the sin of prejudice? Or, regardless of the type of sin, it shows him exhibiting flawed judgement, and in need of "schooling" from mere mortals(and gentiles at that)? Both? Neither?

For disclosure, I'm personally not a believer in Jesus' perfection, so don't have a problem with the idea of him being beholden to the petty prejudices of his day. I'd imagine if you were someone who believed that Jesus' every thought was being beamed straight into his head by God, the story might be a little difficult to accept.

quote:
Originally posted by Boogie:
Yes - he must have had to learn as a child. So it follows that he was constantly learning as a adult.

Otherwise he would not have been human.



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ISTM we must start by asking ourselves what Mark intended by including this story in his gospel, and, whatever else, we must assume it was intended to reflect well on Jesus, otherwise the event would have been ignored by the writer. IMO the anecdote is best seen alongside the healing of the Centurion’s Servant, recounted by Matthew and Luke:

quote:
Matt. 8 5-13.  Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him,  saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.”
 And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 
The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.  For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
 When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!  And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.  But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.

IMO story of the Syro-Phonoecian woman is not about whether Jesus was a racist or not, but is designed to emphasise her gentile status and that her faith put that of the Jews, the focus of Jesus' mission, to shame, for which she is fully rewarded.
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jrw
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Stetson:
[qb] As to the topic, if I may pry for a bit...

What is it that you find problematic about the story? That it shows Jesus initially exhibitng the sin of prejudice? Or, regardless of the type of sin, it shows him exhibiting flawed judgement, and in need of "schooling" from mere mortals(and gentiles at that)? Both? Neither?

---------------------------------------------

A good question actually. I suppose the real reason it's problematic for me is because there's this voice inside me which says "Stop kidding yourself. It's obvious from this text that Jesus was just an ordinary bloke who's been turned into a religion".
Having said that, it's certainly true that many of us probably need to rethink our ideas about what perfection actually means.

[ 13. March 2014, 16:26: Message edited by: jrw ]

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