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Mark For Everyone

MARK 7.24–30
The Syrophoenician Woman...

...Not just another healing, more a political incident. This very odd story has all the trappings of a dangerous event for Jesus, and Mark helps us to understand it by the way he’s linked it to what went before. We’ve just heard a fresh view of cleanness and uncleanness; now here is a girl with an unclean spirit. We’ve just heard Jesus say something which, when decoded, under- mines the protective fence that first-century Jews maintained around their own identity; now here he is, in a decidedly Gentile town, trying to lie low for a while and then doing, with a healing miracle, what he’d just done with his cryptic sayings.

This explains the very odd exchange between Jesus and the woman. The tone of voice throughout, though urgent and (on the woman’s part) desperate, is nevertheless that of teasing banter. Some have tried, with feminist agendas in mind, to make out that the woman put Jesus straight, correcting and indeed rebuking his restricted viewpoint, but this is hardly what Mark intended. She accepts, after all, the apparent insult (Jews often thought of Gentiles as ‘dogs’, and what Gentiles said about Jews was usually just as uncomplimentary), and turns it to her own advantage. Had she (or Mark, telling the story) wanted to challenge or correct Jesus this was hardly the way to go about it...

Taken from Mark for Everyone by Tom Wright

Publisher: SPCK - view more
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