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  #1  
Old Jun 6, '12, 7:05 pm
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Holly3278 Holly3278 is offline
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Default Did Jesus call the Gentiles "dogs"?

And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon." But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, "Send her away, for she is crying after us." He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But she came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me." And he answered, "It is not fair to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered her, "O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire." And her daughter was healed instantly.
(Matthew 15:21-28 RSV-CE)

Was Jesus here calling the Canaanite woman or Gentiles in general dogs? Was He insulting them? I never have understood this passage. It almost seems like He was insulting Gentiles by calling them dogs but I don't think Jesus would have done such a thing. Please help.
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  #2  
Old Jun 6, '12, 7:12 pm
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Trishie Trishie is offline
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Default Re: Did Jesus call the Gentiles "dogs"?

Jesus kindness to non-Jews is evident in his treatment of the sinful Samaritan woman
http://www.veritasbible.com/newjerus...89/read/John_4

And His regard for the good Samaritan

http://www.veritasbible.com/newjerus...9/read/Luke_10


In the Golden Catena of St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Remigius explains the figurative meaning of this encounter with the Canaanite woman:

“Allegorically; This woman figures the Holy Church gathered out of the Gentiles. The Lord leaves the Scribes and Pharisees, and comes into the parts of Tyre and Sidon; this figures His leaving the Jews and going over to the Gentiles. This woman came out of her own country, because the Holy Church departed from former errors and sins.”


This site may provide some insight:
http://www.apologeticspress.org/APCo...10&article=317
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  #3  
Old Jun 6, '12, 8:11 pm
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Default Re: Did Jesus call the Gentiles "dogs"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trishie View Post
Jesus kindness to non-Jews is evident in his treatment of the sinful Samaritan woman
http://www.veritasbible.com/newjerus...89/read/John_4

And His regard for the good Samaritan

http://www.veritasbible.com/newjerus...9/read/Luke_10


In the Golden Catena of St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Remigius explains the figurative meaning of this encounter with the Canaanite woman:

“Allegorically; This woman figures the Holy Church gathered out of the Gentiles. The Lord leaves the Scribes and Pharisees, and comes into the parts of Tyre and Sidon; this figures His leaving the Jews and going over to the Gentiles. This woman came out of her own country, because the Holy Church departed from former errors and sins.”


This site may provide some insight:
http://www.apologeticspress.org/APCo...10&article=317
Thanks Trishie. I think I understand it a little better but it still confuses me. I read that last link you gave me and it helped some but not quite enough. I'm still quite confused. It just seems as though calling the Gentiles dogs would be some sort of derogatory thing even though according to the article it says it wasn't meant in a derogatory way. But if it wasn't meant in a derogatory way then what was it meant as?
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--St. Josemaria Escriva

“One day, through the Rosary and the Scapular, Our Lady will save the world.”
--Saint Dominic

"Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world."
--Blessed Pope Pius IX


Our Lady's 15 Promises to Those Who Pray the Rosary

Come, pray the Rosary

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  #4  
Old Jun 6, '12, 9:27 pm
Mintaka Mintaka is offline
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Default Re: Did Jesus call the Gentiles "dogs"?

Jesus was using the rhetorical device known as "analogy".

For example, say I was trying to explain to Bobby why Bobby shouldn't run around telling everybody he's going to win 100 dollars in the lottery, when he doesn't know if he'll win or not. So I use the old proverb and say, "Bobby, don't count your chickens before they hatch."

Am I calling lottery tickets eggs, and dollars chickens?

No, I am drawing an analogy. Telling people about theoretical lottery winnings is like counting eggs as chickens when you don't know whether or not they'll hatch. I don't come right out and say that; I just draw the analogy and let you see it. Analogies are a way of explaining one's reasoning, through making a sort of picture in people's minds of a parallel situation.

So there's an analogy drawn of Israel to children and Gentiles to housedogs, but it's an analogy only. Analogy means it's not the same; it's a parallel situation that is like it, but not the same.

And since rabbis only challenged people they thought could give them a good answer back, and only did that as a way of teaching them, Jesus was actually making a pretty flattering offer to the Gentile woman that she give him (and the disciples and the Jewish crowd, some of whom really did think of Gentiles as lesser critters) a good answer for why Gentiles have the right to ask help. And she did.

The other thing to know here is that it was polite in the Mideast (and still is) to put yourself down a little, if you were asking for a favor or inviting somebody to your house. Your house is always going to be "my poor miserable hovel", just like nowadays in the US, people tend to say things like, "Oh, we're just having a little party, nothing fancy, don't dress up and don't bother getting all dressed up, but just come."

So for the Gentile woman to draw the analogy of herself and her daughter as being like "puppies" being slipped food under the table, was not only turning the analogy to her advantage, but making it into an even more polite invitation than before. She was a clever lady and a quick thinker, which was probably why Jesus gave her a fairly strong rabbi challenge. She was up to it, and thus laid the groundwork in the apostles' brains for Gentiles receiving Communion and otherwise being in the Church.

Of course, the problem with rhetorical devices is that not everybody is going to get it, unless they've heard the rhetorical device used before. That's why in the olden olden days, everybody learned rhetoric right after grammar, at the beginning of their education, particularly for reading the Bible. That's also why we're supposed to learn this stuff in school, particularly in English/literature class; but a lot of schools don't teach it now, because ooh, it's so old-fashioned.
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  #5  
Old Jun 6, '12, 10:12 pm
meltzerboy meltzerboy is offline
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Default Re: Did Jesus call the Gentiles "dogs"?

It's not so much that Judaism considers dogs unclean, but rather, according to the Oral Law (Talmud), that "evil dogs" should be chained and not kept as pets because their barking may frighten a pregnant woman and cause her to miscarry. There is much debate among Orthodox Jews even today about having a dog as a pet, even the smaller breeds. Cats, on the other hand, are fine. At the same time, Judaism requires that pets be fed before household members because animals do not have the reasoning capacity to delay gratification.
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  #6  
Old Jun 7, '12, 2:48 am
gabjus gabjus is offline
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Default Re: Did Jesus call the Gentiles "dogs"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trishie View Post
Jesus kindness to non-Jews is evident in his treatment of the sinful Samaritan woman
http://www.veritasbible.com/newjerus...89/read/John_4

And His regard for the good Samaritan

http://www.veritasbible.com/newjerus...9/read/Luke_10


In the Golden Catena of St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Remigius explains the figurative meaning of this encounter with the Canaanite woman:

“Allegorically; This woman figures the Holy Church gathered out of the Gentiles. The Lord leaves the Scribes and Pharisees, and comes into the parts of Tyre and Sidon; this figures His leaving the Jews and going over to the Gentiles. This woman came out of her own country, because the Holy Church departed from former errors and sins.”


This site may provide some insight:
http://www.apologeticspress.org/APCo...10&article=317
Can I just check and summarise what you are saying?
Are you saying
"Since the passage itself is silent on how the term 'dog' is meant to be taken, it is best to use other passages on Christ's treatment of Gentiles to see what it is likely to mean?"
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  #7  
Old Jun 7, '12, 3:33 am
Hokomai Hokomai is offline
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Default Re: Did Jesus call the Gentiles "dogs"?

Yes, he was being rude about gentiles, but not very, as he did not directly call them 'dogs'. "pearls before swine", on the other hand . . .
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  #8  
Old Jun 7, '12, 5:01 am
patrick457 patrick457 is offline
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Default Re: Did Jesus call the Gentiles "dogs"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by meltzerboy View Post
It's not so much that Judaism considers dogs unclean, but rather, according to the Oral Law (Talmud), that "evil dogs" should be chained and not kept as pets because their barking may frighten a pregnant woman and cause her to miscarry. There is much debate among Orthodox Jews even today about having a dog as a pet, even the smaller breeds. Cats, on the other hand, are fine. At the same time, Judaism requires that pets be fed before household members because animals do not have the reasoning capacity to delay gratification.
There's a reason for this. In an Israelite (and later, Jewish) context, dogs were more often encountered in the form of wild scavengers who roamed around cities and the countryside, living off leftovers and worthless food (Exodus 22:31; also cf. Joseph and Aseneth 10.14, where Aseneth throws her royal dinner "out of the window as food for the dogs"), refuse and dead animals: street dogs for instance ate Jezebel's body (cf. 2 Kings 9). This is the reason why in the OT, dogs were more often used negatively as examples of unclean habits and a menace (1 Kings 21:19, 23, 24; Psalm 22:17, 21; Isaiah 56:11; Jeremiah 15:3). The book of Tobit is the first example of a biblical literature which shows a dog as a travelling companion - in fact, the fact that the dog which accompanies Tobias gets mentioned twice (6:2; 11:4), all the while doing nothing important to the plot, or for that matter nothing at all, leads some authors to believe that in an earlier version of the story, the dog had a larger role - although Job 30:1 already indicates their presence to guard sheep. This negative image continues to some extent in the NT, where dogs are paired with the definitely-unclean pigs (Matthew 7:6) and heretics ( Philippians 3:2; 2 Peter 2:22; Revelation 22:15). This was of course in contrast to other cultures, where people had a more favorable view of dogs: as deities (cf. the Egyptians and the jackal-headed Anubis), as hunting dogs and bodyguards (cf. Mesopotamian cultures), or even as house pets (cf. Greco-Roman culture). Some attribute the eventual softening of Jewish attitudes towards dogs due to exposure to other peoples.

We shouldn't deny that this passage is difficult to understand, and that Jesus' reply to the woman is indeed somewhat harsh. The problematic word here is kynaria/kynariois. Many commentators attempt to soften the passage by pointing out how kynarion is the diminutive form of kyōn "dog" - thereby producing something like "pups," "pet dogs," or "doggies." However, other commentators are not so certain whether the word should really be understood in the diminutive here - and even if it is, it still doesn't totally remove the difficulty. Some authors would also say that "dogs" were common terms for non-Jews, based on their negative image in the OT and NT, although this is more likely an oversimplified caricature: while it is indeed a term of disapprobation in Hebrew thought - and even in Greek (cf. the Cynics, which comes from the adjective meaning "dog-like") - "dog" in either case is not tied to ethnic identity. Still another proposal interprets it as a proverb, in which case Jesus was giving the woman a cue for further conversation and to test her faith.

IMHO however, the best way to interpret this passage (which acknowledges the harshness of the saying and understands it in the context of Jesus' view of Hismission) is to look at the text itself, since the Evangelists pretty much already give the answer: Jesus saw Himself as being sent for the Jews - He Himself pretty much says so (Matthew 15:25; cf. 10:5-6): all in all, Jesus' contacts with non-Jews were few and exceptional. It's not that gentiles are being excluded or that He did not care about them. Just as the members of the household must be fed before animals (be it the house pet or that random dog on the street), the Jewish people had temporal priority over the gentiles, since it was to them that the Messiah came. In any case, the woman (and Matthew and Mark) apparently do not see Jesus' words as an insult but as a signal for her to come up with a witty riposte. (As an aside: we don't know for sure what Jesus meant by "dog" here, but we can assume that the woman assumes it refers to house dogs, as the reference to "under the table" shows! )

I think that the core thing to keep in mind here is that, Jesus Himself oftentimes tended to say something that is somewhat rude to His fellow Jews as well. For example, He tells a would-be follower who begs time to bury his father: "Let the dead bury their dead," and even orders His disciples when sending them out to "greet no one on the road." (Which was, while most of us don't really realize it since most Western cultures don't really have any custom of greeting total strangers, a very grave faux pas - apparently the urgency is such that He even denies His disciples from practicing common courtesy!) Both of these sayings have a common line of thinking: time is of the essence. Jesus' response to the woman should in my opinion be read in this light.
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  #9  
Old Jun 7, '12, 1:24 pm
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Default Re: Did Jesus call the Gentiles "dogs"?

Translating the Greek word kunarion as 'dog' is a poor choice in my opinion:

http://platytera.blogspot.com/2012/0...ion-tails.html
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Old Jun 7, '12, 3:14 pm
Mintaka Mintaka is offline
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Default Re: Did Jesus call the Gentiles "dogs"?

Oh, so it's puppies or little dogs both times?

I must have seen that somewhere before, but I don't think it was explained that well (or I wasn't listening and remembering that well).

Yeah, and -ion is a pretty common diminutive for a kid, now that I think of it. Like Cleopatra's son and heir Caesarion, which name translates as "little Caesar" or "Caesar's son". (He was her son with Julius Caesar.)
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Old Jun 7, '12, 4:18 pm
patrick457 patrick457 is offline
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Default Re: Did Jesus call the Gentiles "dogs"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mintaka View Post
Oh, so it's puppies or little dogs both times?

I must have seen that somewhere before, but I don't think it was explained that well (or I wasn't listening and remembering that well).

Yeah, and -ion is a pretty common diminutive for a kid, now that I think of it. Like Cleopatra's son and heir Caesarion, which name translates as "little Caesar" or "Caesar's son". (He was her son with Julius Caesar.)
As I've explained in a former post: normally, yes, but different authors are divided as to whether the word should be really rendered as something like "doggies" or our conventional translation is fine as it is. A few authors would even point out even if the diminutive is meant here it still does not totally remove the difficulty.
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Old Jun 7, '12, 4:22 pm
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kkollwitz kkollwitz is offline
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Default Re: Did Jesus call the Gentiles "dogs"?

"Oh, so it's puppies or little dogs both times?"

Yes, both times it's κυνάριον kynarion:

But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast [it] to pups.

And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the pups eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.
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