Pastoral Psychology

, Volume 63, Issue 3, pp 249–263 | Cite as

What Do We Do With This Jesus? A Reading of Matthew 15:21–28 through the Lens of Psychoanalytic Theory

  • Melanie S. Baffes


This paper interprets the story of the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15 using the lens of psychoanalytic theory—Winnicott’s concept of True Self and Stolorow/Atwood’s model of intersubjectivity—arguing that, for modern readers, the Canaanite woman and Jesus suggest new possibilities for being human. This full humanity results from both of them moving from False Self to True Self and from the mutuality that characterizes their interaction. This reader-response interpretation leads to new understandings of: (1) loving self—seeing ourselves as empowered, refusing compliance as a response to oppression; (2) loving other—overturning the self/other paradigm to regard all individuals in terms of their humanity; and (3) loving God—learning to be in mutual and authentic relationship with God.


True self Intersubjectivity Transformation Self/other Empowered selfhood 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Garrett-Evangelical Theological SeminaryEvanstonUSA

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