The Samaritans: A Profile

The Samaritans: A Profile

The Samaritans: A Profile

The Samaritans: A Profile


Authoritative introduction to the Samaritan tradition from antiquity to the present

Most people associate the term "Samaritan" exclusively with the New Testament stories about the Good Samaritan and the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well. Very few are aware that a small community of about 750 Samaritans still lives today in Palestine and Israel; they view themselves as the true Israelites, having resided in their birthplace for thousands of years and preserving unchanged the revelation given to Moses in the Torah.

Reinhard Pummer, one of the world's foremost experts on Samaritanism, offers in this book a comprehensive introduction to the people identified as Samaritans in both biblical and nonbiblical sources. Besides analyzing the literary, epigraphic, and archaeological sources, he examines the Samaritans' history, their geographical distribution, their version of the Pentateuch, their rituals and customs, and their situation today. There is no better book available on the subject.


Nothing demonstrates more clearly the change from the almost total neglect of anything that has to do with the Samaritans to a heightened interest in their history and religion, than two remarks made almost one hundred years apart: in 1907, an anonymous reviewer of James Montgomery’s influential book, The Samaritans, the Earliest Jewish Sect: Their History, Theology, and Literature, wondered: “Are the Samaritans worth a volume of 360 pages?” in 2000, the situation had changed to such an extent that the authors of an encyclopedia article on the Samaritans in New Testament times could refer to an “explosion in recent years in the publication of Samaritan texts and secondary discussions based upon them.” Others speak of the last two decades as a boom time for Samaritan studies. Editions and translations of Samaritan works have appeared or been announced for publication, numerous linguistic studies have been and are being published, and the excavations in Samaria — and above all on Mt. Gerizim — have opened up new vistas. Moreover, the past of the community is no longer the only focus of interest to scholars, as the results of research by social anthropologists are beginning to appear, shedding light on the modern-day community of the Samaritans. This in turn enables us to make comparisons between contemporary practices and beliefs on the one hand, and the practicetans, the Earliest Jewish Sect: Their History, Theology, and Literature, by James Montgomery, Expository Times 18 (1907): 548.

2. H. G. M. Williamson and Craig A. Evans, “Samaritans,” in Dictionary of New Testament Background (ed. Craig A. Evans and Stanley E. Porter; Downers Grove, il and Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press, 2000), p. 1056.

3. H. G. M. Williamson, review of Tradition Kept: the Literature of the Samaritans, by Robert T. Anderson and Terry Giles, Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies 3 (2007): 162.

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