Sunday, August 17, 2014

Lost in the Translations: This Ain't No κυναρίοις and Pony Show

 Most of you probably heard Matthew 15:21-28 read in church today,
Jesus left Gennesaret and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, "Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon." But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, "Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us." He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But she came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me." He answered, "It is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered her, "Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed instantly.
I was using the New KJV recently and it used a slightly different translation of κυναρίοις,
Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.” But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour. Matthew 15:21-28

κυναρίοις as used in Matthew 15:26 has been discussed on these pages earlier here. "Little dogs" is the New KJV translation. I still prefer the word "puppy" which is used in the International Standard Version.

The Pulpit Commentary at BibleHub has this to say,
Dogs (κυναρίοις). A contemptuous diminutive, rendered by Wickliffe, "whelpies," or, as we might say, "curs." This was the term applied by the Jews to the Gentiles, even as Turks nowadays talk of "dogs of Christians," and as in later times, by a curious inversion, the Jews themselves were generally saluted with the opprobrious name of"dogs." Some have seen a term of endearment in the diminutive "little dogs," as though Christ desired to soften the harshness of the expression by referring, not to the prowling, unowned animals that act as scavengers in Oriental towns, but to the petted inmates of the master's house. But Scripture gives no warrant for thinking that the Hebrews ever kept dogs as friends and companions, in our modern fashion...
I still think that being the dog that is allowed under the master's table is better than being a dog in the street. So I would disagree with the Pulpit Commentary and dare to suggest that man's best friend had a special relationship with its master in Biblical times as well as he does today, but perhaps not to the extent of getting a spa treatment at Pampered Pooch or being permitted to sleep on the bed.

I may be barking up the wrong tree here, but don't worry, the hair on my back isn't standing up about it


  1. The scraps from the master's table are the fruits of His sacrificial life thankfully accepted by me. We confess that we don't even deserve these "scraps" in the prayer of humble access in Rite I.

    1. I am gald to be allowed under the same table too.

  2. Anonymous5:45 PM

    Late to the combox, but I'm a huge supporter of the Prayer of Humble Access.

    The man behind me at church has probably not said it since I've been sitting in front of him, but, on the first Sunday in August 2014, he did. Long may we all continue!


    1. The Prayer of Humble Access got dumped from our service about the time the priest started proclaiming, "Everyone is welcome to the Lord's table."