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Imagine Jesus speaking with a Greek woman in Greek


jkgayle
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Is Mark intending his readers imagine Jesus conversing with the Greek woman in the Hellene mother tongue of hers? Does his narrative in Greek allow us to imagine that? Does it make a difference to so imagine this particular discourse in that particular language, the one we're reading in?

ἡ δὲ γυνὴ ἦν Ἑλληνίς, Συροφοινίκισσα τῷ γένει· καὶ ἠρώτα αὐτὸν...

καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῇ· Διὰ τοῦτον τὸν λόγον...

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I've long been fascinated by the question of which language(s) Jesus spoke. To come at this another way, though, could there be reason to think she wasn't necessarily speaking Greek with Jesus?

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 "reason to think she wasn't necessarily speaking Greek with Jesus?"

 

For a man, a Jew, a Rabbi, to deign to engage in social intercourse with a woman, a Greek, a mere daughter of mere goyim might have required her to use Hebrew. She might have dared to try Hebraic Aramaic with him. (Men and women then and there just would not have tried the Roman would-be lingua franca we know as Latin. Rome forbade women to speak in public.)

 

Whatever language(s) their exchange, we get it only in dirty Greek. Jesus is bent on marking his pure call to the feeding of the children of those called of God with the bread God provides them.

 

This mere Greek daughter with a mere Greek daughter with a dirty Greek deity perhaps caught like an STD in some pagan polytheistic Greek temple like those of Syro-Phoenicia is but an unkosher dog, and a female dog at that. For a man, a Jew, a Rabbi to deign to engage in social intercourse or to put her daughter's needs above the hunger of the children of Israel is very striking indeed. Not only does Jesus listen to what she says.

But he also humbles himself to actually be impressed by how she says it. Its rhetorical effect goes beyond him and either enacts his Messianic powers to heal or demonstrates the power of her profession of her faith in him. Mark does not get into all of that, as we know. We read in mere Greek how Jesus is struck by what she says, how she - this Greek daughter with a Greek daughter with a Greek demon - says it.

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