The Canaanite Woman

The Canaanite Woman


Benjamin Bagocius


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The Canaanite woman in both Matthew's and Mark's Gospels asks Jesus to heal her daughter from so-called demon possession, what today we might understand as a psychological, genetic, physical, or emotional disorder. Matthew and Mark give the Canaanite woman a handful of verses before moving on to Jesus's next encounter. The Canaanite Woman pauses with her for considerably longer. This woman emerges as a prophet when we notice both her inborn and hard-won wisdom, her strength and resilience as a mother of a child with a complex disorder in a culture of systemic ableism. The Canaanite woman is not an ancient visionary from an outdated story. She is your server at the restaurant. Your business partner. She is the woman lifting weights beside you in the gym, the woman you pass in the grocery store aisle. She might be a man, for men, too, are often primary caretakers of children with rare and complicated disabilities. Maybe you are the Canaanite woman. Or will be. The Canaanite woman has much to teach us about the mystery of love. Let's follow her. She'll lead us to other quiet visionaries along the way, including ones we often pass by: the visionary within the marginalized; the visionary within ourselves. 


Benjamin Bagocius:
Benjamin Bagocius writes and teaches broadly across literature, spirituality, and queer thought and experience. His writing has appeared in On Being, The Other Journal, Modernism/modernity, Studies in the Novel, and elsewhere. An associate professor of the humanities with the Bard Early College Sequence Program in Washington, DC, Bagocius holds a PhD in English from Indiana University, an MFA in creative writing from The New School, and a BA in English from Kenyon College. Bagocius is also founding director of the Institute for Spiritual Poetry, which hosts writing workshops, a journal, and other events. Learn more and reach out at and