She Has Ears to Hear

People make assumptions about each other based on appearance, personal affiliation or both. A well-dressed person is assumed the better candidate; good taste is mistaken for competence or moral credibility; worst of all, people judge each other by association, as though a person’s social circle, identity, family, or organizational affiliation have any bearing on their knowledge or wisdom. For instance, one might assume that the Pharisees—Israel’s learned religious teachers—would understand Jesus. One might also assume that the disciples—the closest associates of Jesus—would be the first to grasp his parables, let alone his plain explanations. But in the Gospel of Mark, it is a woman—from a nation that is neither holy nor modest—who has no trouble accepting the criticism of Jesus or her station as the lowest and the least in his presence: a gentile dog. In this way, Mark demonstrates the teaching of Paul: “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29) Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Mark 7:24-30.

Listen: http://tracking.feedpress.it/link/15937/5592332/TBAL%20Episode%20167.mp3

Episode 167 Mark 7:24-30; Subscribe: http://feedpress.me/the-bible-as-literature; “Shaving Mirror” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/

7 comments

    1. Wasn’t is just an analogy? No one referred to a person directly as a dog, did they? I always read her as asking “If dogs should have access to crumbs, shouldn’t Gentiles have access to you?”

    2. a Syro-Phoenician could not reasonably be mistaken for a literal dog, and so yes of course it is an analogy. I am wondering whether there is a double standard between the Lord’s usage of figurative language and ours. Nate Tinner

    3. And I just meant that though there is a figurative AND direct way to refer to someone as a dog, e.g. “That man is a dog.”, the woman’s words didn’t seem to rise even to that level. She was just analogizing herself and Jesus in reference to a comparable scenario (a dog at a table). But anyway, you weren’t asking me. haha

    4. Jesus assumes a “tiered” system of students by separating “children” from “dogs,” who are the “clean” and the “unclean,” the Jews and the Gentiles. This structure has to be set up so that the Syro-Phoenician woman can respond the way she did. In the previous scenes, the children (scribes, Pharisees, disciples) were rejecting the “bread,” by ignoring, twisting, and misunderstanding the teaching. Now comes a woman who “doggedly” hungers for the teaching. She moves to the head of the class, in spite of her apparently cursed, unclean state, because she desires strongly, in spite of insults, the teaching that Jesus offers.

      We would not be in the place of deciding who are “children” and “dogs”–except that we are cursed dogs ourselves, but who can nevertheless hunger for the teaching that Jesus offers.

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