Was Jesus being a bigot when he called the Caananite woman a dog? August 15, 2005Posted by roopster in Bible, Christianity, Jesus, Religion, Theology.
In my days of viewing the Bible as the authoratative Word of God, void of flaws, there were a few passages of scriptures that were very troubling to me. Here’s one of those passages:
Matthew 15:22-28 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
Many people, including myself, think that it was offensive for Jesus to call this Canaanite woman a dog. However, there are many Christian apologists that have explanations to excuse Jesus’ apparent insensitivity. I looked up some of these explanation on the Christian Apologist sites including christian-thinktank.com.
Here is one of their explanations:
The image Jesus has chosen is an image of endearment, not insult. The picture of supper-time, with little kids at the table, and their pet “puppies” (the Greek word for ‘dog’ here is not the standard, ‘outside’ dog–which MIGHT BE an insult–, but is the diminutive word, meaning ‘household pets, little dogs’…) at their feet, maybe tugging on their robes for food or play. The puppies, dear to the children and probably so too to the master (cf. 2 Sam 12.3f: but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.), were to be fed AFTER the children (notice: not DENIED food–there was no “NO” in Jesus image–only “WAIT”). But the temporal order is clear–Jesus must take care of His disciples FIRST, and if meeting her need involved interrupting their rest and GOING SOMEWHERE, then it was going to have to wait.
If this is the case, then the woman’s reaction would be unmerited when she responded “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” She must have misunderstood Jesus’ “image of endearment.” To me it’s clear that the woman took this statement to be offensive even if she did not respond in like manner but accepted her position in society. Also, why was this considered “great faith”?
I would love to hear other alternative explanations for this.