Did Jesus Just Call that Woman a Dog?

Going through the Gospel of Matthew in a bible study last week.  People take notes and ask me questions about what they’ve read.  One 35 year old mother of 4, who’s been in church her entire life, comes across Matthew 15 when a gentile woman asks Jesus to heal her child.  Jesus responds, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

35 year old woman responds:

Her: Did Jesus…did he… just call that woman a dog?

Ah crap.  Now how am I going to handle this one? I don’t really feel like pulling the “oh, he was just testing her” bs, so I decide to do a slightly more honest route.

Me: Well…yes, but he wasn’t being sexist as you would think.  It was actually more racist.

Her reaction was about what you’d expect:

21129-Really-Bitch

Me: But later this goes on to prove one of Jesus’ most important points; that God loves people from every race.  This is exactly how the Jews of the day thought of Canaanites, as dogs.  However Jesus opens the realm of possibility that says all people are equal regardless of race or gender.  Jesus listens to her and is impressed by her, something the disciples will remember.  Who we consider a “female dog”, God sees as valuable.

phew

Her:Still is kinda a mean way to do it though. That’s just rude!

Me: I agree, very rude.  But the rudeness makes it memorable and drives the point home.  Look, we’re still talking about aren’t we?  I think Jesus succeeded, and after all is said and done, the daughter was healed.

I’m still a little bit in shock that someone could spend their ENTIRE LIFE in church and never hear that story.  For me it really drives home the point that your average Christian virtually never reads their Bible for themselves.  How is this possible?  Why would you belong to a religion your whole life and not actually read the foundational document that defines what you believe in?  How can you claim the Bible is sooo important, and yet never take the time to read it?

Blech…

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10 thoughts on “Did Jesus Just Call that Woman a Dog?

  1. I know, I know. When you get a little distance from the bible and quit thinking of it as holy and without flaw, you can see that maybe Jesus wasn’t saying this, but perhaps Matthew (or whoever wrote the damn thing) was saying it through the voice of Jesus.

    It’s important to note that Jesus liked the woman for her sassy comeback. And it’s interesting that Matthew the Jew, allowed this story of a woman from the outside to be told in his account.

    BTW, thanks for visiting me at my blot, Preacherman’s Secrets

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    • I’m not sure how I found your blog. I wonder if it was posted somewhere on TCP. However, thanks for reading mine. For obvious reasons I can’t actually promote this blog on my own so I wasn’t sure if anyone would ever find it. It’s good to know that I least one person had heard me. Thanks again.

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  2. I can empathize with this. I was a precocious child and so when an adult bible study group made a challenge to read the entire bible, I started out with them. Predictably they fizzled out (have you ever heard of a group starting that challenge and not fizzling out?), but I read my entire KJV that summer, and I was confused. So I started over again. I kept going back over and over it, I switched translations, I read other people’s explanations. I pared it down. I studied the history of the councils that decided what was included, and revisions that were made whether posibly erroneously from translations or quite purposefully. I spoke with pastors. I tried to reconcile the inconsistencies between Chaucer’s and books. I tried to find historical evidence that remotely matched what was supposedly documented in the bible. I tried to rationalize and fit this book into any crack that my understanding of science, humanity, and the world would allow. I tried to reconcile it with the inconsistencies with reality. I tried to excuse and justify it any way I could. There just wasn’t room for it, it doesn’t make sense, it’s broken, River Tam was right. In a weird sort of way reading Ishmael by Daniel Quinn kind of clarified the whole thing in my mind, the bible makes much better sense if it was written by outsiders looking in on a myth that didn’t make much sense to them (that’s not really what the book is about, it’s just what I got from it). So I started letting go. But I’m still completely baffled by how many who purport to believe that have never actually read the entire thing. It’s like signing a contract without reading it, but I suppose people do that too.

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  3. Pingback: Did Jesus Just Call that Woman a Dog? | pariah586

  4. Honestly it seams you are kind of hard on her, LOL. One can not simply remember every detail in book, especially one so vast as the Bible. It took me awhile to get the story or how he could be referring to her as a dog, but thank god it finally hit me! LOL, Thanks for the story. Was very enjoyable to read.

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  5. The story that you allude to is fascinating, once you drop the idea of seeing it as anything divine. Of course we can’t be sure what happened in this interchange. The original incident probably happened in the Aramaic language, was recounted in Greek, was translated into English and then took on the meanings that come across in our language.

    Sure, Jesus called the woman a dog (or a little dog, according to the Jerusalem Bible). However, the woman turned the comment to her own advantage by saying even the little dogs pick up the scraps from under the table. We are then transported into a world where customs are radically different from ours. (Imagine eating a meal with hungry dogs at your heels!)

    The smart comment of the woman shows up the racism in what Jesus is reported to have said, and shows Jesus giving the woman what she wants, restoring the health of her daughter.

    This is not a problem is it’s a human story. In fact, it’s rather fun to see a woman getting the better of a man. However, turn it into a divine message, and you’ve got to justify the actions of Jesus when he is not shown up in the best light.

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