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