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changing the very face

February 13, 2018

This year blogger Abram K-J is reading through the canonical Christian gospels in Greek. He’s posted about that here and has started a private forum here. There, after reading how the Greek in the gospel changes the very face of power, I posted the following:

de-privileging great faith

Matthew 15:21-29 is fraught with privilege. The two stories are bound together by it.

The second story ends by counting men (besides women and children). This crowd is one that Jesus had deeply and instantly and involuntarily felt his unique pity for. He’d healed all their loved ones with ailments. Then he cannot stomach how hungry these 4,000 men are (besides their women and their children).

The first story ends by counting a woman. This is a dog whom Jesus has refused to hear. He reserves his healings not for her child, not for a female’s female offspring, not for an afflicted girl of a girl of the goyim. She is multiply de-privileged. She is born into the wrong race, the wrong sex, the wrong class. She never appears on any census. She has to beg for compassion. None of the men need to feel anything for her.

And yet in this context of hierarchies, of males over females, of sons over daughters, of Israelites over gentiles, of healthy healer over sick and demonized, Jesus gives in famously and surprisingly to this resistance:

Ὦ γύναι,
μεγάλη σου ἡ πίστις·
γενηθήτω σοι ὡς θέλεις.

It should have brought the crowd back to the Lord’s Prayer in the sermon on the mount; it should take Matthew’s Greek readers back:

Πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς·
Ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου· ἐλθάτω ἡ βασιλεία σου·
γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου

Jesus has deconstructed the Patriarchal conception of the One God of the One chosen race of men.

He has put this nameless female with her afflicted female child of an unkosher people group so far below heaven and on the last lowest rung of unkosher animals (did she call herself a “bitch”?) up with “Our Father” and with “whatever he wishes is what we must pray for.” And he has said to her “what you’ve wished for really does count. You and your child, though woman, though merely a not-son daughter, really do count!”

Post Script:

This month in the United States has been called Black History Month, or as the President decrees it “National African American History Month.”

As we read these two stories in Matthew today, it may be useful to recall why the black woman Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw got us Americans looking at intersectionality more closely. Here are two notable articles:



“It’s not about supplication, it’s about power. It’s not about asking, it’s about demanding. It’s not about convincing those who are currently in power, it’s about changing the very face of power itself.”

4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 14, 2018 8:06 pm

    I’m glad you’re using this as occasion to blog, too! I’ve appreciated the time you’ve taken to share your rich insights.

  2. February 19, 2018 1:35 pm

    Thanks, Abram. I’m glad Accordance makes your posts there accessible to readers generally. Hope you won’t mind my cross-posting here from time to time. I just did again today, for example.

  3. February 22, 2018 11:03 am

    The cross-posting is great! In fact, I think the blogosphere (whether yours or mine) may afford even greater access to readers for these conversations.


  1. February 2018 Biblical Studies Carnival | Pursuing Veritas

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