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Constructing Christian Identities, One Canaanite Woman At A Time: Studies in the Reception of Matthew 15:21-28

Klancher, Nancy (2012) Constructing Christian Identities, One Canaanite Woman At A Time: Studies in the Reception of Matthew 15:21-28. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation is a cross-cultural, cross-temporal reception history that identifies, compiles, and analyzes approximately fifty interpretations of a provocative New Testament passage, Matthew 15:21-28. It explores how these exegetical texts, ranging from the 2nd to the 21st centuries, construct a wide range of Christian identities and ideals and how those ideals function within their own historical cultures and discourses and in relation to preceding interpretations. This reception history combines historical contextualization and close readings of texts. It relies on theoretical premises from the history of reading, reception theory, and feminist analyses of subject- or identity-formation. It examines multiple encounters with one biblical text and the accumulation of traditions and topoi that built up as a result of those encounters over time. These theoretical frames raise critical questions about exegetical depictions of religious identities, most importantly in this study, about the formative function of exegetical texts and the importance of aesthetic experience, not as pure perception or abstracted pleasure, but as engagement with tradition, historical understanding, and the transformation of reader and text. Thus, in this study interpretations and receptions of the Canaanite woman are understood as historical technologies of the Christian self. Two interpretive strategies repeatedly surface; they persist, even as their content morphs to fit the questions and concerns of their historically-bound iterations. Over time, the figure of the Canaanite woman is repeatedly used within texts ranging from anti-heretical polemic to devotional literature as either 1) the occasion for anathema or 2) universal exemplum. The dissertation argues that there is a disciplinary power in such exegetical strategies, one consciously leveraged to ensure solidarity, unity of belief, conformity of practice, and maintenance of institutional hierarchies. Such historical uses of biblical interpretation and the dynamics of their reception are the focus of the dissertation. It concludes with a discussion of current scholarship on Matt 15:21-28 and considers the implications of the dissertation—both its method and its findings—for the current practice of reception history.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Klancher, Nancynbk8@pitt.eduNBK8
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairAllison,
Committee MemberFlannery, Kathrynflannery@pitt.eduFLANNERY
Committee MemberShear, Adamashear@pitt.eduASHEAR
Committee MemberCreach,
Date: 28 June 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 16 March 2012
Approval Date: 28 June 2012
Submission Date: 17 April 2012
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 391
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Religion (Cooperative Program in the study of)
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Reception History, Biblical Interpretation, Biblical Exegesis, Matthew 15:21-28, Canaanite Woman, Christian anathema, Christian exemplum, anti-Jewish polemic
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2012 17:44
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2017 05:15


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