Jesus Adherence to Colonialism

The differences of treatment that Jesus gave to the Canaanite Woman and the Roman Centurion.


It is hard to think that Jesus Christ the son of God or God himself depending on which Christian you speak to can show favoritism or even treat women and men differently.  It is hard to even imagine that.  However no matter how hard it is to imagine that Jesus treated females and males differently, there is evidenced in the Gospels that he did exactly this. One of the striking differences in which Jesus treated men and women differently is the stories of the Roman centurion and the Syro -Phoenician/Canaanite woman in Matthew and Mark.  There are other issues in these two narratives such as slavery and others but I will focus on two issues the sexism and colonialism that Jesus portrayed.  I will argue that Jesus adhered to the Roman and Jewish cultures of patriarchy and may have been a supporter in colonialism.

In Jesus day Rome was the ruling city that the time, the Romans colonize and control almost every nation known to the world and the time and had brought with them their customs and culture that influence the colonized. Palestine was not any different.  When Jesus was born Rome had already conquered Palestine, hence Jesus must have saw many Roman soldiers and   centurions.   The Romans thoughts  on  women and  their  place  in society  may have  not been  quite  different  from  those  of the  Jews.    Jesus although he may have fought against the empire of Roman may have admired or accepted some things about Roman occupation such as keeping women in their place.

One of  the  differences between the  Roman centurion  and  the Canaanite  woman  is  that there are the  opposite of the  same  coin, i.e   both are foreigners but the  centurion is  a Roman a people that have colonized the Jews and  Palestine  and   the Canaanite woman, a people  conquered and  oppressed  by the  Jews.  The   Roman centurion, many in Roman Palestine would be considered superior than Jesus and many of the Jews would consider the Canaanite woman inferior.   In Matthew 8:10 when Jesus says “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith”, this line causes to question how exactly Jesus feels about the Romans and the occupation. I am sure that Jesus could find people in Israel that have great faith. What about his disciples, the leper and many of the Israelites who followed him in faith.   This is in contrast to what he tells the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:26 ““It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” Jesus there is conforming to the Roman patriarchy (everything Roman system is good) and othering the Canaanite woman.   Jesus’s healing  the  Roman  centurion quickly and  hesitating  to heal  the  Canaanite  woman illustrates  to us  how  the  Gospel of  Matthew  view  the  Roman  empire. Mathew obviously by this story of Jesus to illustrate that Jesus came for the Romans too and that he was not a threat to Roman imperial power. Musa Dube  has   a similar thought, she states that Matthew’s compare  and  contrast of  Jesus  and  the  centurion  highlights the  gospel writer’s stand  toward  the  imperial  empire.  Jesus praises towards the Roman Dube says illustrates that Matthew sympathies with the Roman Empire. ( Dube 132)  Some  may argue   like  Michael Joseph  Brown  that  the   centurion  impressed Jesus with his  humility and recognizing Jesus is superior  than  him.  Brown says “Jesus agrees to heal the centurion, but is amazed at the centurion response.  The centurion actually verbalizes his poverty his need for Jesus assistance.   The recognition that he is one who needs the assistance of someone greater touches Jesus.  (Brown 95)  I would argue   though  as  a Roman, this centurion  would  have no reason  to  think  of  Jesus   as someone  greater  than  him. In fact  as  a  Roman  he  would  be  suspicious  of  Jesus’s movement as  Jesus   may  been  known  for  his  critique of  the  Jewish  religious group and  the  Romans.   This was not   Jesus happy that this Roman recognized his superiority. It was Jesus accepting Rome’s colonization and accepting another male into the fold.


to be contuined


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