Jesús, ¿un judío prejuiciado?

Hace poco estaba buceando en el mar de blogs de nuestra querida internet y encontré una entrada en el blog Experimental Theology que me llamó la atención. Su título es Shaming Jesus y trata el pasaje de Marcos 7.24-30. Le invito primero a leer el texto bíblico y luego la entrada del blog.

Uno de los comentarios a la entrada me pareció sumamente retante pues no hace una interpretación positiva del texto bíblico; todo lo contrario. El comentario lo cito a continuación:

It seems to me to be an over-generous interpretation of the story to say that Jesus abandoned his prejudice.

In this story, Jesus never agrees to the equality of gentiles, or the equality of women, or the equality of gentile women with Jewish men.  Jesus called the woman a dog.  And she made her point by agreeing with him, not saying that she deserved equality or fairness, but merely begging for crumbs.

It is a very, very common thing for someone who is oppressed to have to placate and pretend to agree with the oppressor in order to gain some small benefit.  And that’s what we see happen here.

Once she had admitted to and agreed with his understanding of her place in the world, a dog who can at most expect crumbs, Jesus gave her what she begged for.  It does him no harm to show a bit of kindness to a lesser person who acknowledges their subordinate nature.  But there is no evidence that his behavior patterns changed in the long-term to reflect a change in belief and a letting-go of prejudice.  Jesus did not then reach out to other Gentiles in his lifetime.  He did not, in his lifetime, work to send apostles to Gentile communities.  This incident was an aberration in his behavior, a single time when, on a whim, he decided to indulge an inferior person who amused him with her clever response but did not challenge his privileged world-view.

The woman may have bested Jesus in this argument, in the sense that she convinced him to give her what she desperately needed.

But she did not best him by arguing for her equality.  And she did not best him by convincing him that she was equal.  She did not best him by arguing for fairness.  She did not convince him to treat gentile women, as a group, fairly.

Saying that a dog may claim crumbs that fall from the table is a very, very different thing from saying that a dog is equal to a human child eating at the table.  She used the time-honored technique of the oppressed and enslaved of flattering their oppressor in order to gain favor.


And Jesus’s initial rejection of her request is not merely prejudiced.  It is cruel.  And evil.

This is a woman who is desperate.  Her child is severely ill, in a way that was not understood at that time.  She believed her child to be not just physically ill, but possessed by evil spirits.

Any interpretation of the story that suggests that Jesus was using this woman to illustrate a point requires recognizing that he considered making a point to be more important than the welfare of a desperately ill child.  It requires recognizing that Jesus considered making a point more important than basic kindness and good manners to a woman asking a favor.

Scoring points in a debate can never be more important than kindness and caring for actual human beings.


Imagine being desperate to find a cure for your sick child.  You muster your courage, and approach a doctor well-known for being able to cure conditions that others find impossible to treat.

And that doctor calls you a dog, who has no right to take treatment that might be given to real people.

That doctor is, at best, a prejudiced asshole.  At worst, he’s advocating a sort of low-level genocide, providing medical care to worthy people but leaving those of a lesser race to die.

And in situations of great oppression, there are always many stories of oppressors showing occasional acts of small kindness to this or that oppressed individual.  And then using those occasional small acts as a way to tell themselves and others that they aren’t really oppressors, because there is this or that lone individual among the many they oppress to whom they’ll give an occasional and small bit of kindness while still treating them badly in the larger picture.

¿Qué responder? ¿Existe alguna manera de justificar a Jesús en el texto bíblico? ¿Podemos ver aquí a un Jesús prejuiciado contra los gentiles como muchos de sus compatriotas judíos?

¿Cuál es la interpretación más razonable de Marcos 7.24-30?




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