Did Jesus Really Call a Woman a “Dog?” (Fr. Simon Says)

Do you get confused about Jesus’ response to the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:21-28? You might wonder why Jesus said, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” Did Jesus want to make the woman feel bad? Definitely not! You can rest assured that there is often a misunderstanding of the text.

In this podcast episode featuring Fr. Simon, he addresses the commonly misunderstood passage about the Canaanite woman and her interaction with Jesus. Fr. Simon highlights that the word “dog” is not present in the original Greek text; instead, the term used is “kinarion,” which means “puppy.” He rejects the idea that Jesus needed to learn morality or overcome racism from this encounter, arguing that Jesus’ human nature was immaculate and not tainted by original sin, so he possessed an intact conscience and inherent moral virtue.

Fr. Simon criticizes those who suggest that Jesus had to learn from the Canaanite woman, labeling them as “neo-Nestorians.” He explains that the Nestorian heresy sought to separate the human and divine natures of Jesus, an idea rejected by the Council of Chalcedon. Fr. Simon emphasizes that Jesus’ humanity was perfect, akin to Adam’s nature before the fall, and suggests that portraying Jesus as needing to learn morality is heretical.

He responds to a listener’s letter with great appreciation, mentioning a theologian who discussed the symbolism of dogs and contrasts it with the lost sheep of Israel. Fr. Simon praises the perspective and underscores the significance of Jesus’ mission to the house of Israel rather than the puppies of Lebanon, highlighting the profound implications of the incarnation.

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Jake Moore serves as a Digital Audio Content Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, and is passionate about classic movies, Christian music, young adult ministry, and leading this generation to Christ through compelling media. You can listen to more of his podcasts at relevantradio.com and on the Relevant Radio® app.