Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Joint Ph.D. Program in Study of Religion

First Advisor

Gregory Robbins, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Pamela Eisenbaum

Third Advisor

Nicholas Rockwell


Child, Children, Deconstruction, Families, Kingdom, Synoptic gospels


At a time when institutions of faith are increasingly confronted with scandals that have brought the vulnerability of young children to the fore of religious consciousness, some scholars have pointed to Jesus' special concern and affection for children in the Gospels. Scholars are struck by how often the authors place Jesus in relation to children: healing them, blessing them, and challenging their marginal status by characterizing them as models for understanding the kingdom of God proclaimed by Jesus. If the authors had concluded their stories of Jesus' eschatological gathering with the blessing of the children, then their characterizations of children might seem nearly unparalleled. Yet, the narratives continue; children appear less; Jesus and the disciples move on.

This work challenges the extent to which our long held interpretation that `Jesus loved the little children' is well grounded in the gospel narratives. Instead, it is argued that the inclusion of young children in the kingdom of God presented in the Synoptic narratives is tempered by images of household disruption and alienation of children as a consequence of Jesus' eschatological gathering of followers. Assuming the multivocality texts, a deconstructive literary approach is applied to the Synoptic Gospels, foregrounding children over other characters in relation to Jesus' adult ministry. Passages such as healing narratives involving children, the `Child in the Midst' (Mark 9:36-37 and par.), `One of These Little Ones' (Mark 9:42 and par.), and `Let the Little Children Come to Me' (Mark 10:13-16) are examined against sayings relativizing family ties and the lifestyle indicative of the radical call to discipleship in the Synoptic narratives. This work seeks not to resolve but to highlight the tensions between attempts at child inclusivity and the radical demands of discipleship on families.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Arthur James Murphy


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

196 p.


Biblical Studies, Theology, Religion