Jesus and the Samaritan Woman

by Leolaia 36 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • A Paduan
    A Paduan
    In the eyes of God, a "husband" or "wife"... is one with whom one has been "joined" by means of flesh. That means... sex. By means of the sexual act, where two fleshes join, the couple become "husband and wife"... ONE flesh.

    Man behaves as man behaves and something that they do is marry - this behaviour has been used as part of a teaching to convey understanding - just as other animals behave in other ways, and the observation of those creatures are used for teaching Does not nature teach you?


    I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD.

    For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name.


    The application of this spiritual teaching to the flesh has been very burdensome to many people (eg. the battered wife), but it is one that is still often necessary to live in some harmony among a great many people.

    For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things:............and from unchastity.

    Since in the eyes of my Lord, relations with another while having a living spouse constitutes "adultery"

    It's simply what adultery is in the eyes of people - some people.


  • Narkissos

    Leolaia: dare I say "brilliant"?

    Your deep and broad review of the subject was quite interesting and compelling to me.

    Actually the only part of it which leaves me somewhat unsatisfied is also the least original: the structural correspondence (or inclusio) of the first and last weeks of Jesus' ministry. Whereas the allusion to Genesis 1:1 is obvious in John 1:1, the Johannine Prologue to which it belongs (excluding v. 6-8 and 15) is quite independant from the supposed week running from 1:19 to 2:1. About the latter, while I admit a later redactor could have wanted to make it appear as one week, I feel the chronogical connections are rather loose and superficial. If this was part of the very construction of the initial work, I doubt the author who intended to build a parallel to Genesis 1 would have left the 5th and 6th days empty, and more generally would not have drawn better parallels with the content of each day. On the other hand, the Passion narrative beginning in chapter 18 seems also to be a quite autonomous work, relying heavily on the Synoptics, while chapters 11--12 (where the "last week" is supposed to begin) forms the conclusion of the "Book of Signs". So I feel this "structural pattern", if intended at all, only fits the late, upper strata of redaction. And consequently it is hardly an argument against a possible earlier dislocation of a primary source (especially since there is evidence for a probable dislocation after chapter 4 as you admitted earlier...).


    I've read enough literature concerning the critical side of the bible to realise how and why it began, and the fact that it is bogus as a life preserver. I see no more point in continually trying to prove as untrue........something YOU already believe is untrue. Once you believe it isn't what you once believed it much longer to you have to keep proving it?

    *gumby hides naked in the bathroom again and swats his ass 6 times for not accepting other people and their intrests........bad gumby......bad!*


    Just to clarify my interest in such subjects, may I say I have left the question whether the Bible is "truth" or "a life preserver" far behind? It just happens that the Bible texts and related ancient literature are even more interesting to me without such a question. If you are fond of reading fiction of any kind, I'm sure you know what you're reading is not "true" and will never give you "everlasting life", yet you don't close the book. As French writer Marcel Proust approximately said somewhere, literature might just be the best part of human life...

  • Leolaia
    I've read enough literature concerning the critical side of the bible to realise how and why it began, and the fact that it is bogus as a life preserver. I see no more point in continually trying to prove as untrue........something YOU already believe is untrue. Once you believe it isn't what you once believed it much longer to you have to keep proving it?

    Gumby....I am not posting in order to "discredit" the Bible. That seems to be a common misunderstanding of the purpose of critical analysis. I wouldn't be so interested and fascinated in the Bible if that were the case. What you regard as just repeatedly proving something untrue over and over is from my point of view merely studying a truly fascinating and important (in view of Western culture) piece of ancient literature. Why can't it be studied and appreciated for its own sake, for what it is, than merely disprove it as the word of God, toss it aside, and be done with it? As you probably know from my posts, I see the Bible as part of a much wider spectrum of Judeo-Christian literature, itself set in a wider Near Eastern and Hellenistic context. I see value in this whole body of literature, least of all because of its role in shaping our world view and ideological beliefs. Ideas do have a history, why not search for their roots? And the existence of fiction and even pious forgery in the Bible does not render it barren of religious or moral truths. Whether or not there is an external, immanent God in the universe, I do believe as is taught in places in the Bible that there can be God in people, by the way one treats others and manifests "divine" qualities in life (e.g. the works of the Spirit in James), and for better or for worse I personally do find much value in the philosophy of the synoptic Jesus. And that is not to say that the same philosophy and wisdom could not be found elsewhere, as in Eastern philosophy, since the manifestation of "God" in people is in no way limited to those in the Jewish and Christian traditions. You may object to continued study in, say, the Gospel of John, because it is basically a work of fiction. But if you read my post, I think it is pretty clear that John intended the book to be read as allegory and I doubt whether he truly conceived himself as writing what we would today call "history". But just because it is fiction and unhistorical doesn't mean it doesn't have value. Otherwise, why study any of the other great achievements in world literature? Isn't there a lot of meaning and truth on the human condition to be found in Shakespeare, the classic Greek tragedies, and so forth? John has essentially written the great Christian tragedy -- why not appreciate it as a work of art and try to poke a little beneath the surface to find what's there. True, it may not be your thing, but others find it increadibly rich in meaning and literary genius.

  • gumby


    Were it not for people like yourself.....many truths we now know about the bible would not be known to many others. It is the work of those who take intrests in these and other subjects who teach us.

    Thanks for your hard work.......I was just being a little bit of an un-understanding ass


  • Leolaia

    Narkissos....Thanks for the compliment, but as for the "originality" of the synthesis I presented, bear in mind of course that much of it came from stuff I read over Friday and Saturday in my research. I doubt I would've looked at things that way if I hadn't read the amazing commentaries and articles I found, whether online or in print. I guess I could claim credit for the idea of reading Mary Magdalene into the Wedding story, and hypothesizing that Mary in another guise (not known under the name "Magdalene") lies behind the Samaritan Woman at the Well story -- as it is set in Samaria, where Gnosticism really took off, and among whom Mary was not called Magdalene per se. I was thinking more about this today. If we extract the Semeia Gospel material and the Passion Narrative drawn from Mark, what do we have left? All the very gnostic discourse material and stories like the Woman at the Well story which seems to be pivotal to the plot. Might this gnostic proto-gospel have originated in Samaria, where Gnosticism was purportedly very popular, and the esteemed apostle Mary was designated as a "local girl" whom Jesus meets in the course of his ministry? The other material that the author(s) of John drew on included Galilee and Jerusalem traditions (e.g. in the Semeia Gospel and the Passion Narrative, or Crossan's Cross Gospel) that designated Mary as either a native of Magdala in Galilee or a resident of Bethany near Jerusalem. The different early Eastern factions wanted to claim Mary as their own and thus developed different traditions about her which could not be reconciled when the gospels were written unless the different Marys were treated as separate individuals. I was reading the Well story this morning again and it struck me how gnostic or proto-gnostic it is, especially phrases such as "you worship what you do not know; we worship what we know" and "whoever drinks of the water I give will never thirst" (cf. "Whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death," Gospel of Thomas 1:1)

    About the structure of the book, I did not mean at all that it was devised at an early or "initial" stage, since the early gnostic version of the gospel was probably quite different overall though containing much of the material in the finished book. But I don't think it was so late that it came from a later redactor or copyist who was responsible for the disorder in ch. 4-7 or adding the various other interpolations. I think the best explanation is that it came from the mind who integrated and developed the Passion Narrative with the rest of the material and who especially wanted to characterize the old Jewish system as imperfect and defunct (symbolized by the number 6; cf. the six water pots for ablutions, the six Jewish festivals, Passover occuring six days after Jesus is anointed, Jesus condemned by the Jews at the sixth hour, etc.) and Jesus as superior and bringing the old system to an end (symbolized by the number 7; cf. the seven signs, the seven discourses, the seven "I AM" statements, the healing of an official's son occuring at the seventh hour, etc.). The week pattern would fit right into this system of sevens, and every day need not be described with content in order to organize the gospel in this way, and the author need not also be required to iconically pattern the weeks of Jesus' ministry point-by-point in order to evoke the Creation Week. Jesus' pre-Easter ministry is then preceded by the Prologue relating what what happened before (i.e. the existence of Jesus "in the beginning," creation, the sending of John into the world, the incarnation of the Word) and a Conclusion relating what followed (i.e. the Day of the Resurrection), to which was later added an Epilogue (ch. 21). If the author were composing a fresh gospel of his/her own devising, the structure would probably not seem as loose and superficial but the author was working with pre-formed blocks of gospel tradition that already had their own traits. Again, I cited this as reason why a dislocation of ch. 2 did not occur at the hands of a later copyist (like the one responsible for the disorder in ch. 4-7 which, unlike ch. 2-4, was simply shuffled out of order and not reworked into the new context) -- not as a reason against a possible dislocation occurring early in the use of primary sources.

  • AGuest
    The application of this spiritual teaching to the flesh has been very burdensome to many people (eg. the battered wife)

    I wholeheartedly agree with you, dear paduan... at least with regard to your words "the APPLICATION OF". But I would have to state that as the MISapplication of, myself. Because although the Law placed a responsibility on those under it to abstain from things such as "adultery" so as not to transgress... there were and have always been two things "greater" than the Law: love... and mercy. Therefore, if a woman was/is being abused by a husband, the Law that we are SUPPOSED to live by would be forgiving, merciful... and NOT burden her... but forgive and RELEASE her.

    Unfortunately, so many of the "leaders" among those who call themselves "christians" prefer to peer into the "perfect law" as if a window... and scrutinize the conduct of others, rather than as a mirror for scrutiny of self. They prefer to point the finger, rather than have/show compassion. That was also a bit of the point of the account of my Lord and the Samaritan woman: he, being "without" sin COULD have pointed a finger. But... he didn't. Sure, he told her what was true about herself, but only in response to what she said, which was also true. But he neither judged her... nor condemned her. Although she was an adulteress... he STILL offered her "living water."

    Can you imagine how many woman... and others who suffer under whatever type of abuse... could be set FREE... TRULY FREE... if they only stopped listening to the scribes and Pharisees... those who PUT such heavy burdens on the people? And it was these... those who considered themselves "righteous" that my Lord condemned at the same time he RELEASED sinners.

    Me? I'm a sinner. And so, would not stand in judgment of anyone else, no matter what their "sin"... be it adultery or what have you. Rather, in the hopes that I will be forgiven for MY "trespasses" against the Law... I have been taught to live under a NEW Law... one of love... that says if I forgive... if I release... if I show mercy... then I will be forgiven... I will be released... I will be shown mercy. I was not taught such a wonderful thing by the WTBTS, but instead, was taught to judge... and condemn... to hate. Praise JAH... I have been truly set free!!

    John 8:32, 36

    And with such freedom, dear paduan, comes the greatest thing known to MY flesh thus far: the freedom... TO love. Which freedom, the scribes and Pharisees seem to "get off" on suppressing, and so teach their followers instead how to "hate".

    The greatest of peace to you!

    A slave of Christ,


  • peacefulpete

    Really excellent work. My comments that follow are not critques but observations. The linking MaryM with the Samaritan was what I was hinting at by referring to the Sam woman as a "sinfull woman or prostitute". It works doesn't it.

    i do wonder if (2:1) "on the third day " equates with "after 3 days". Perhaps you guys with greek skills can clarify.

    The repellent question in the wedding scene, "Woman,What have I to do with you?" has been interpreted as polemic against the notion that Jesus HAD A MOTHER. In Gnostic camps he just descended from heaven. As we know the nativity tales are late additions. so this in my mind may be a gnostic response to the Matthew story.

    I don't know how to fit it all in but GJohn has been understood as antiThomas, perhaps in response to the Gospel of Thomas. Thomas is the last apostle to see the risen Lord, he is consistantly depicted as faithless and thick headed. Perhps we are seeing two rival gnostic camps at odds about Thomas? Later additions must of course be attributed to a Proto-orthodox sect.

  • AGuest

    May you have peace!

    While it is true the the Samaritan woman was referred to as a "sinner," she was not Mary (the Magdalene). The latter was the sister of Martha and Lazarus... she who anointed my Lord's feet with her tears and oil, and wiped them with her hair. She is the one who held the affection of my Lord, which affection he did not give in a fleshly way, so as not to make her a widow. She (Mary) was from Magdala... in Galilee, which is why she was called the "Magdalene," versus "a Samaritan."

    Again, I bid you peace.

    A slave of Christ,


  • Navigator


    I always enjoy your posts and those of Narkisos and Peaceful Pete. However, it does seem a bit of a stretch to envision Jesus as the bridegroom at the Cana event. George Lamsa points out that the greek bible writers display a lack of familiarity with aramaic customs and culture. He points out that the responsibility of providing wine at the wedding feasts belonged to the guests and not the groom. The grooms best and closest friends provided the first wine (and likely the best wine). It was a rank order kind of thing and it would have been a social faux pas to go out of turn. Lamsa points out that wedding feasts were pretty much drunken orgys and suggests that it would have been scandalous for a Rabbi such as Jesus to provide wine to an already "over imbibed" party. According to Lamsa, Rabbis generally provided water and encouraged everyone to sober up. Having sampled a fair amount of middle eastern wine, I can understand why the Chief Steward thought water tasted pretty good. He also may have been "crocked". When Mary came to Jesus and told him "They have no wine", she was in effect saying, "It is your turn to provide the wine". His reply was :"My time has not come", meaning it is not my turn to buy. Nevertheless, he accedes to his mother's request and has the servants fill the jars with water. The writer of John, who apparently had an account of the incident at Cana, clearly had a different purpose in mind than just relating the story. He uses the story to portray Jesus as a miracle worker ready to embark upon his ministry. The custom of guests providing wine still survives today. When I was stationed in Europe, it was very common for dinner guests to show up with a bottle of wine.

  • peacefulpete

    Leolaia..What if the repellent question " what have I to do with you?" is meant as I earlier posted as a denial of his having a mother? Altermately,what if the woman speaking (unnamed) is Martha and she is the mother in law and Jesus is resisting her bossiness? Rememebr in the Lazarus house setting Martha nags/orders Jesus to tell mary to help with chores. Martha and Mary could be mother and daughter but later changed to sisters to disguise the marriage. The Jewish Encyclopedia says that Sychar is Schechem, the Samaritan holy city, Josephus said that Schechem was called "Mamortha". Is this the source of the name Martha?

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