BPotW Loaves and Crumbs (Mark 7:24-30)

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Bible Passage of the Week

paradox3

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Welcome back to BPotW. In typical Mark fashion, the prose in this week's passage is terse and deceptively simple. The story almost reads like a parable.
Matthew offers a parallel version which could be worthwhile to compare with this week's text. But please, as we get started, let us focus on Mark 7: 24-30


The central metaphor of the story (bread and crumbs) has been speaking to me for reasons as yet unknown. Always interesting when this happens.

The story contains many familiar themes. It opens with Jesus attempting to take a break and someone demanding his attention. She is an outsider. A Gentile! A woman!
It is a story of faith bringing about something remarkable. A child is healed by a mother's faith.
It is a healing story. A miracle story.

But is it more? What do you make of this short passage? Is it speaking to you in any way? Of note is the exchange of words and wit between Jesus and the Syrophoenician woman.

Do you think she persuaded Jesus to change his mind? As his ministry expands to include a Gentile woman, is Jesus growing in wisdom and self-awareness?
 

Redbaron

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I've read comments (from William Barclay, if I recall, for one) that the conversation between Jesus and the woman took place with smiles, almost like they were bantering or flirting. Somehow, I just don't see that going on.
I think Jesus may have been reminded of something he knew, (God's love is universal) yet never really thought about much, or acted on. He did go to that out-of-the-way spot for a rest, and, to me, sounds a tad grumpy. To me, his words could be paraphrased, 'Fine. You're right. Your daughter is healed. Go.'

It's a miracle story, and a healing story, but also shows that even the best of us have our moments of 'un-best-ness'.
 

paradox3

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@Redbaron
Hadn't thought of the interchange as flirtatious but hey, it could have been. I saw it as a matching of wits.

Or perhaps Jesus was being "rabbi - like". Posing a challenge. Speaking enigmatically as he often did in his parables.
 

paradox3

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Which, would of course contradict Jesus being the all knowing God, he is later portrayed as. Perhaps Mark never considered Jesus was God?
We are told elsewhere in Scripture that Jesus grew in wisdom and stature when he was a child. Couldn't he have continued to grow in wisdom as a young man?

The other possible explanation is that God, godself, was evolving. If the Kosmos is evolving towards greater complexity, is it feasible that God might also be evolving?

Great comments
 

Mendalla

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Which, would of course contradict Jesus being the all knowing God, he is later portrayed as.
And supports either a purely human Jesus or a process understanding of God and Jesus' relationship to God. Or both, for that matter.

The other possible explanation is that God, godself, was evolving. If the Kosmos is evolving towards greater complexity, is it feasible that God might also be evolving?
Which is, of course, the process position.
 

paradox3

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Kind of interesting that Jesus could be displaying his full humanity in this passage. Needing a rest, even a bit grumpy, possibly flirting with a woman. Plus growing in his awareness of his call from God.

At the same time it is a miracle story. Yet Mark credits the faith of the woman and doesn't actually describe Jesus taking any particular action.
 

paradox3

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Could it be that faith itself accomplishes something? Aside from any response from the object of that faith?

Sometimes we use the adjective living to describe faith. Hmmm. My head is starting to spin.
 

Redbaron

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Almost a reflection of the first Creation story from Genesis 1? (Jesus spoke, 'The demon has left your daughter' She went home and lo, it was so.) Maybe a bit of a stretch, but then...
 

paradox3

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Almost a reflection of the first Creation story from Genesis 1? (Jesus spoke, 'The demon has left your daughter' She went home and lo, it was so.) Maybe a bit of a stretch, but then...
In the OP I described Mark's language as terse and deceptively simple. I almost said that it lacked poetic embellishment.

If Mark is in fact echoing the language of the Torah, he is a more clever writer than I was thinking. Dunno if this is a stretch or not. :unsure:
 

Waterfall

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Could it be that faith itself accomplishes something? Aside from any response from the object of that faith?

Sometimes we use the adjective living to describe faith. Hmmm. My head is starting to spin.
Much the same as seeing a miracle where others wouldnt?
 

paradox3

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Anyone notice that Jesus doesn't actually refuse to help the woman? It is more like he is telling her she must wait her turn.

After sparring verbally, he seems to praise her and tells her she may go. Almost as an aside, he informs her the demon has left her daughter.

Curious that Jesus chose to communicate in this way.
 

Mendalla

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Let's go back to Jesus statement in 27 for a moment.

“Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”

To which the woman responds, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

And then her daughter is healed. She got a crumb, in other words.

Does Jesus really change his attitude, or just toss her a crumb for being a good doggie? I am not entirely convinced that this is any more than Jesus patting her on the head and giving her a bone. Patronizing her, basically. Are Gentiles really "dogs under the table" for him? I am not convinced, in other words, that this paints as positive a picture of him or his growth as it is traditionally interpreted to. If he continued to hold the attitude that he should drop a few crumbs for the dogs from time to time, then that's not much growth and paints him as very much a Jewish Messiah, not a universal Saviour.

Of course, what does it say about the Gentile woman who happily accepts being branded as a "dog" rather than a "child". Seems like she willing to tolerate his attitude to get what she wants. A bit opportunistic, really.

In the end, nowhere do we see Jesus really changing around to the idea that Gentiles are "children" who get fed rather than "dogs" who just get the scraps and crumbs.

(Yes, I am being a bit contrarian here but I also wonder why we always put a positive spin on anything to do with Jesus when some of his statements and actions can definitely be spun negatively without much effort).
 
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Luce NDs

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Maybe it is a psychological thing beyond reality ... thus superficial or superstitious to some folk ...

Mental process is an alien item of concern!
 

paradox3

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@Mendalla
Do you think Mark intended to portray Jesus as a jerk in this passage?

Could be. Luke gives us Jesus as a brat when he was an adolescent
 

Mendalla

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Do you think Mark intended to portray Jesus as a jerk in this passage?
I am not it was intentional. In fact, I am not sure that it would have across that way in their time and culture. After all, the Jews were "God's chosen" and Jesus saw himself, at least for part of his life, as God's emissary to them. So the idea that what Jesus brought was intended for the Jews, notnthe Gentiles, likely would have seemed natural and reasonable to someone like Mark. I think the "Jesus is a jerk" interpretation is more my modern perspective.
 

BetteTheRed

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Mark is also the gospel in which Jesus seems chronically irritated with the "poor [in]sight of his disciples. The earliest, and definitely the most human Jesus in contrast with much later, much higher Christology, in John.
 

paradox3

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I am actually not too bothered by the references to children and dogs. Jesus is speaking metaphorically, after all.
 

paradox3

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Realized today that the NRSV does not actually mention bread. It is the children's food in v. 27.

Does this make sense? NRSV talks about crumbs. If you ask me, crumbs go with bread (or other baked goods). If you want to talk about food, shouldn't it be scraps rather than crumbs?
 

BetteTheRed

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And bread is an important metaphor in the bible.

But then, so are scraps. Does this relate in any way to the loaves and fishes stories?
 
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