Kids and Kingdom challenges the traditional view that Jesus was deeply concerned over children. Instead, it is argued that despite the Synoptic authors’ attempts to convince us that children are fully included in the kingdom of God–that “Jesus loves the little children”–their presentations fail to conceal images of household disruption and alienation of children brought about by Jesus’ eschatological movement.
After establishing what Greco-Roman and Jewish sources reveal about children by the end of the first century, a deconstructive literary approach is applied to the Synoptic Gospels, foregrounding children over other characters in relation to Jesus’ adult ministry. Murphy scrutinizes prominent healing narratives involving children, and teachings involving children such as “The Child in the Midst” (Mark 9:36-37 and parallels), “One of These Little Ones” (Mark 9:42 and parallels), and “Let the Young Children Come to Me” (Mark 10:13-16 and parallels). These are examined against sayings of Jesus relativizing family ties and the lifestyle indicative of the radical call to discipleship in the Synoptic narratives. Fundamentally, this study does not seek to resolve but to highlight the tensions in the Synoptic Gospels between attempts at child inclusivity and the radical demands of discipleship.