Announcing. . . the Nano Indian car © Rainer HachfeldNeues Deutschland, Germany

Century Marks

Jesus, your humanity is showing: Jesus’ brush-off of the Syrophoenician woman who asked him to cast a demon out of her daughter (Mark 7:24-30) is an embarrassment to most Christian exegetes, who have a long history of attempting to justify Jesus’ apparently bigoted response. But Mary Potter Engel, who grew up in the Christian Reformed Church and then converted to Judaism as an adult, thinks this is an example of a tale told about a religious hero that reveals his humanness. Jesus’ encounter with this woman resulted in a grand reversal: rather than Jesus teaching the woman, the woman reminds Jesus “that the God of love and justice has prepared a table for all, even in the presence of one’s enemies.” For Engel, this incident casts light on what it means to follow Jesus—not toward perfection but toward ever greater openness to “the living God who calls us beyond our limited selves and narrow worlds” (Spiritus, Fall).


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