Exploring Samaritanism

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2021) | Viewed by 72368

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Department of Classics and Religious Studies, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5, Canada
Interests: Samaritanism; Judaism; world religions

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue of Religions is devoted to the topic of “Exploring Samaritanism”. Thanks to the New Testament, especially the parable of the Good Samaritan in the Gospel of Luke 10:29-37, the phrase the “Good Samaritan” is a familiar designation of compassionate and helpful people and organizations worldwide. Few, however, connect it with more than the idea of aiding people in dire needs. Questions such as “Who were the biblical Samaritans?” and “When and where did they live?” are virtually never asked. Let alone the questions: “Are there still Samaritans and if so, where are they to be found, what are their beliefs and practices?” Even in academia, for a long time the study of Samaritanism was a rather neglected field. This has changed, however, in the last several decades. The change is due in part to the finds of so-called pre-Samaritan manuscripts among the Dead Sea scrolls and to new archaeological discoveries of Samaritan synagogues, inscriptions, and, above all, the remains of a Samaritan sanctuary and city on Mount Gerizim in the vicinity of the modern city of Nablus in Palestine. Other factors of this fresh interest in the community and traditions of the Samaritans are new editions and translations of ancient Samaritan writings; novel analyses of biblical texts; cultural-anthropological research among the present-day Samaritans; and last, but not least, initiatives of the Samaritans themselves to make more people aware of their existence and special traditions.

At the current state of research, scholars of Samaritanism agree that the Samaritans always were and still are a community of Yhwh worshipers, a branch of Israelite religion centered in the North of the country of Palestine. Except for certain textual differences their sacred Scripture is essentially the same Torah/Pentateuch as that of the Jews. Modern biblical research has shown that the question of the origin of the Samaritans as a distinct Yahwistic community must be re-examined in the light of new discoveries. As opposed to the time before the recent (from 1982 on) excavations on the main peak of Mt. Gerizim when Josephus was our only witness to the existence of a Yahwistic temple in Samaria, we now have material evidence of such a temple on the mountain and can date its construction to the fifth century BCE and its destruction to the late second century BCE, the same period in which the Pentateuch was formed. This discovery has had a major impact on our interpretation of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. In the past, many authors considered 2 Kgs. 17:24-41 to be an account of the origin and character of the Samaritans. This view was reinforced by Flavius Josephus’ adoption and adaptation of the passage. However, such an interpretation of 2 Kings has been shown to be untenable, and the proposed dates for the origin of the Samaritans now range from the fifth to the third or second century BCE.

In addition to the manuscript finds in the area of Qumran and the archaeological excavations in Samaria, renewed analyses of biblical books, particularly, but not only, Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicles, have shed new light on the development of the relations between the northern and southern Yahwists in biblical times. As a consequence, Samaritan and biblical studies are now more closely related than ever.

This Special Issue of Religions aims at highlighting and advancing the new developments in the study of Samaritanism. Chronologically the subjects of the contributions span the time from the biblical to the modern period.

The paper should be submitted via Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institutes’s online submission site. You may go to https://www.mdpi.com/user/register/ to register and to complete the submission process. As to the length of the manuscript, 5000 to 10000 words are the usual.

Prof. Dr. Reinhard Pummer
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • Samaritans
  • Samaritans and Jews
  • Qumran manuscripts
  • archaeology
  • Biblical studies

Published Papers (15 papers)

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Editorial

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16 pages, 849 KiB  
Editorial
Exploring Samaritanism—New Insights and Fresh Approaches
by Reinhard Pummer
Religions 2021, 12(9), 769; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12090769 - 15 Sep 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2100
Abstract
“The Discovery of Samaritan Religion” was the title of an article published in 1972 by one of the leading scholars of Samaritanism in the twentieth century, John Macdonald of the University of Glasgow [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Samaritanism)

Research

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16 pages, 864 KiB  
Article
“They Remembered That They Had Seen It in a Jewish Midrash”: How a Samaritan Tale Became a Legend of the Jews
by Steven Fine
Religions 2021, 12(8), 635; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080635 - 11 Aug 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2687
Abstract
This article relates the transmission history of a single Samaritan text and its fascinating trajectory from a Samaritan legend into early modern rabbinic tradition, and on to nineteenth and early twentieth century Jewish studies circles. It focuses on the only Samaritan narrative cited [...] Read more.
This article relates the transmission history of a single Samaritan text and its fascinating trajectory from a Samaritan legend into early modern rabbinic tradition, and on to nineteenth and early twentieth century Jewish studies circles. It focuses on the only Samaritan narrative cited in all of Louis Ginzberg’s monumental Legends of the Jews (1909–1938). Often called the “Epistle of Joshua son of Nun,” I trace the trajectory of this story from a medieval Samaritan chronicle to Samuel Sulam’s 1566 publication of Abraham Zacuto’s Sefer Yuḥasin. From there, we move to early modern belles lettres in Hebrew and Yiddish, western scholarship and then to the great Jewish anthologizers of the fin de siècle, Micha Yosef Berdyczewski, Judah David Eisenstein and Louis Ginzberg. I will suggest reasons why this tale was so appealing to Sulam, a Sephardi scholar based in Istanbul, that he appended it to Sefer Yuḥasin, and what about this tale of heroism ingratiated it to early modern European and then early Zionist readers. The afterlife of this tale is a rare instance of Samaritan influence upon classical Jewish literature, undermining assumptions of unidirectional Jewish influence upon the minority Samaritan culture from antiquity to modern times. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Samaritanism)
15 pages, 979 KiB  
Article
The Anti-Samaritan Attitude as Reflected in Rabbinic Midrashim
by Andreas Lehnardt
Religions 2021, 12(8), 584; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080584 - 29 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3132
Abstract
Samaritans, as a group within the ranges of ancient ‘Judaisms’, are often mentioned in Talmud and Midrash. As comparable social–religious entities, they are regarded ambivalently by the rabbis. First, they were viewed as Jews, but from the end of the Tannaitic times, and [...] Read more.
Samaritans, as a group within the ranges of ancient ‘Judaisms’, are often mentioned in Talmud and Midrash. As comparable social–religious entities, they are regarded ambivalently by the rabbis. First, they were viewed as Jews, but from the end of the Tannaitic times, and especially after the Bar Kokhba revolt, they were perceived as non-Jews, not reliable about different fields of Halakhic concern. Rabbinic writings reflect on this change in attitude and describe a long ongoing conflict and a growing anti-Samaritan attitude. This article analyzes several dialogues between rabbis and Samaritans transmitted in the Midrash on the book of Genesis, Bereshit Rabbah. In four larger sections, the famous Rabbi Me’ir is depicted as the counterpart of certain Samaritans. The analyses of these discussions try to show how rabbinic texts avoid any direct exegetical dispute over particular verses of the Torah, but point to other hermeneutical levels of discourse and the rejection of Samaritan claims. These texts thus reflect a remarkable understanding of some Samaritan convictions, and they demonstrate how rabbis denounced Samaritanism and refuted their counterparts. The Rabbi Me’ir dialogues thus are an impressive literary witness to the final stages of the parting of ways of these diverging religious streams. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Samaritanism)
16 pages, 3917 KiB  
Article
Samaritans in the New Testament
by Martina Böhm
Religions 2020, 11(3), 147; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11030147 - 23 Mar 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 6149
Abstract
Four New Testament writings mention Samaritans and Samaria—Luke–Acts, John, and Matthew. We must consider that all Samaritan texts in the New Testament are based on a historically correct knowledge of the cult of YHWH worshippers in Samaria oriented towards the Gerizim. If the [...] Read more.
Four New Testament writings mention Samaritans and Samaria—Luke–Acts, John, and Matthew. We must consider that all Samaritan texts in the New Testament are based on a historically correct knowledge of the cult of YHWH worshippers in Samaria oriented towards the Gerizim. If the YHWH admirers in Samaria are to be understood as one of the two independent “Israel” denominations that existed in the Palestinian heartland during the post-exilic period, consequently, in John, Matthew, and Luke–Acts, attention is paid to their understanding of the ecclesiological significance of “Israel” and to Christological aspects. Moreover, the authors of the Gospels reflect a semantically young phenomenon, when Σαμαρῖται is understood beyond the ethnicon as a term for a group religiously distinct from Judaism. At the time of Paul, the term “Samaritan” had not yet been established to refer to the religiously defined group. This means that care must be taken when interpreting the term “Israel” and “Israelites” in all Jewish or Jewish-Christian texts written before 70 A.D. This also applies to Paul: when Paul speaks of “Israel”, “Israelites”, and “circumcision”, he could have consciously used inclusive terminology that, in principle, included the (later named) “Samaritans” in the diaspora. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Samaritanism)
14 pages, 12569 KiB  
Article
A Samaritan Synagogue of the Byzantine Period at Apollonia-Arsuf/Sozousa?
by Oren Tal
Religions 2020, 11(3), 127; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11030127 - 13 Mar 2020
Viewed by 3561
Abstract
This article is a follow-up on an earlier publication of a bi-lingual Greek-Samaritan inscription discovered at the site of Apollonia-Arsuf (Sozousa) in Area P1 in 2014. It presents the yet unpublished results of an additional season of excavations carried out in 2015 around [...] Read more.
This article is a follow-up on an earlier publication of a bi-lingual Greek-Samaritan inscription discovered at the site of Apollonia-Arsuf (Sozousa) in Area P1 in 2014. It presents the yet unpublished results of an additional season of excavations carried out in 2015 around the structure where the inscription was unearthed. This season of excavations aimed at locating the remains of a presumed Samaritan synagogue building that, in our view, musts have housed this bi-lingual Greek-Samaritan inscription. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Samaritanism)
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24 pages, 918 KiB  
Article
Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicles—New Insights into the Early History of Samari(t)an–Jewish Relations
by Benedikt Hensel
Religions 2020, 11(2), 98; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020098 - 21 Feb 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 5629
Abstract
This article addresses the way the book of Ezra-Nehemiah on one hand and Chronicles on the other reflect the relationship between Samaria and Judah in the postexilic period. With regard to Ezra-Nehemiah, the focus is placed on Ezra 4:1–5, 6–23, 24, which evokes [...] Read more.
This article addresses the way the book of Ezra-Nehemiah on one hand and Chronicles on the other reflect the relationship between Samaria and Judah in the postexilic period. With regard to Ezra-Nehemiah, the focus is placed on Ezra 4:1–5, 6–23, 24, which evokes a particular image of the nature of the relationship between Samaria and Judah within the report of the construction of the temple in Ezra 1–6 that can function paradigmatically for the book as a whole. With regard to Chronicles, the focus lies on the theme of cult centralization, which became established in a particular manner through the reception of earlier tradition. The article concludes that both works, each in its own way, call forth critique of Samaria and the Samaritans in order to establish a separate Judean or Jewish group identity. The critique of the two works is dated to the late fourth or early third centuries BCE. As such, both are reckoned among the first witnesses heralding a shift in the perception of Samaria in biblical literature, namely toward a polemical and unequivocally negative perspective attested later in, for example, Josephus. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Samaritanism)
15 pages, 291 KiB  
Article
From Religious to Cultural and Back Again: Tourism Development, Heritage Revitalization, and Religious Transnationalizations among the Samaritans
by Fanny Urien-Lefranc
Religions 2020, 11(2), 86; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020086 - 13 Feb 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3464
Abstract
The Samaritans form a community of about 810 people split between Mount Gerizim (West Bank) and Holon (Israel). Through tourism of holy sites and cultural heritage promotion, this article examines different ways in which religion can be used as a cultural resource. How [...] Read more.
The Samaritans form a community of about 810 people split between Mount Gerizim (West Bank) and Holon (Israel). Through tourism of holy sites and cultural heritage promotion, this article examines different ways in which religion can be used as a cultural resource. How do these phenomena contribute to the emergence of a transnationalization of religion in the globalized context? Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Samaritanism)
12 pages, 1080 KiB  
Article
The Samaritan and Jewish Versions of the Pentateuch: A Survey
by Ingrid Hjelm
Religions 2020, 11(2), 85; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020085 - 12 Feb 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 9428
Abstract
This article discusses the main differences between the Samaritan and the Jewish versions of the Pentateuch. The Samaritan Bible consists of the Torah—that is, the Five Books of Moses—also called the Samaritan Pentateuch (SP). The Jewish Bible contains in addition the Prophets and [...] Read more.
This article discusses the main differences between the Samaritan and the Jewish versions of the Pentateuch. The Samaritan Bible consists of the Torah—that is, the Five Books of Moses—also called the Samaritan Pentateuch (SP). The Jewish Bible contains in addition the Prophets and the Writings, a total of 39 books. The introduction seeks to present both traditions in their own right and in relation to other ancient textual traditions (the Dead Sea Scrolls, the ancient Greek and Latin, and the Septuagint). The focus of this article is on the shared tradition of the Pentateuch with special emphasis on the textual and theological character of the Samaritan Pentateuch: major variants in the SP, the Moses Layer, and the cult place. This article closes with discussion of editions and translations of the Samaritan Bible and the Masoretic Bible respectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Samaritanism)
12 pages, 494 KiB  
Article
Was the Temple on Mount Gerizim Modelled after the Jerusalem Temple?
by Anne Katrine de Hemmer Gudme
Religions 2020, 11(2), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020073 - 6 Feb 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 5229
Abstract
Was the Yahweh temple on Mount Gerizim modelled after the temple in Jerusalem? This question is important for our understanding of the sanctuary on Mount Gerizim and the people who worshipped there in the Persian and Hellenistic period; if the Gerizim temple was [...] Read more.
Was the Yahweh temple on Mount Gerizim modelled after the temple in Jerusalem? This question is important for our understanding of the sanctuary on Mount Gerizim and the people who worshipped there in the Persian and Hellenistic period; if the Gerizim temple was modelled after the Jerusalem temple, the argument in favour of the Gerizim cult as derived from the cult in Jerusalem is strengthened. On the other hand, if no such connection can be demonstrated convincingly, one must look elsewhere for the answer to the question of Samaritan origins. The present study gives a brief introduction to the relationship between early Judaism and early Samaritanism, or rather Southern and Northern Yahwism, followed by a presentation of Mount Gerizim and the excavations that were carried out there between 1982 and 2006. Finally, I shall turn to the theory that the temple on Mount Gerizim was modelled after the Jerusalem temple, which has been recast by Dr Yitzhak Magen (2008). I conclude that the archaeological remains from the Persian-period sanctuary on Mount Gerizim offer no evidence that this temple was modelled on the temple in Jerusalem. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Samaritanism)
15 pages, 234 KiB  
Article
Avoidance as Inter-Religious Competence? Samaritans and Their Religious “Others” in Nablus, Palestine
by Julia Droeber
Religions 2020, 11(2), 71; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020071 - 5 Feb 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2451
Abstract
In this paper, I take issue with the theory and practice of inter-religious competence, based on a case-study of the Samaritans of Nablus. I take as a starting point the contemporary observation that inter-religious relations in Nablus are relatively peaceful, which in most [...] Read more.
In this paper, I take issue with the theory and practice of inter-religious competence, based on a case-study of the Samaritans of Nablus. I take as a starting point the contemporary observation that inter-religious relations in Nablus are relatively peaceful, which in most models of inter-religious competence would be considered a product of successfully acquired and implemented inter-religious competences. A second observation, that runs against the grain of all models of inter-religious competence, is that Samaritans do not seem to discuss religious issues in public at all. I try to show that this strategy of avoidance is largely the result of historical experiences, which made “walking between the raindrops” seem the most successful way to maintain social peace. Furthermore, I attempt to demonstrate that the strategy of avoidance is one applied in public, but not in private discourses, which, in turn, I identify as a second strategy of inter-religious competence found in the Nablus context but not in pedagogical models. A third aspect, not mentioned in theoretical models of inter-religious competences, is the political context, which, in the case of Nablus, is marked by a strong discursive emphasis on local and national identity—against an external “enemy”—that overrides any religious boundaries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Samaritanism)
12 pages, 748 KiB  
Article
The Importance of the Wadi Daliyeh Manuscripts for the History of Samaria and the Samaritans
by Jan Dušek
Religions 2020, 11(2), 63; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020063 - 29 Jan 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 4676
Abstract
In this article, we deal with the topic of the Samaria papyri from Wadi Daliyeh in three main parts implied by the title. First, we briefly summarize the basic data related to the manuscripts. Second, we analyze their significance for the history of [...] Read more.
In this article, we deal with the topic of the Samaria papyri from Wadi Daliyeh in three main parts implied by the title. First, we briefly summarize the basic data related to the manuscripts. Second, we analyze their significance for the history of Samaria. Third, the last section is devoted to the meaning of the papyri for the history of the Samaritans. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Samaritanism)
8 pages, 5196 KiB  
Article
Tibåt Mårqe: A New Edition with English Translation
by Abraham Tal
Religions 2020, 11(1), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010052 - 20 Jan 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2848
Abstract
This contribution presents a short introduction to the new edition of Tibåt Mårqe. The oldest manuscript of Tibåt Mårqe dates from the 14th century but only fragments of it are preserved. Previous editors of Tibåt Mårqe included those fragments in their editions which, [...] Read more.
This contribution presents a short introduction to the new edition of Tibåt Mårqe. The oldest manuscript of Tibåt Mårqe dates from the 14th century but only fragments of it are preserved. Previous editors of Tibåt Mårqe included those fragments in their editions which, by necessity, were based on a later, less reliable version of this collection of Samaritan midrashim. The recent discovery of large portions of the 14th century manuscript of Tibåt Mårqe in the National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg made it possible for me to fill most of the gaps. The new edition presented here is therefore based on an improved instrument of research in the domain of Samaritan culture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Samaritanism)
14 pages, 3221 KiB  
Article
Theories of the Origin of the Samaritans—Then and Now
by Magnar Kartveit
Religions 2019, 10(12), 661; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120661 - 4 Dec 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 4312
Abstract
The article describes the different models for understanding the origin of the Samaritans: the Samaritans’ own view; Flavius Josephus’ two stories; a model based upon the results of the excavations of the cities of Samaria and Shechem, plus information from ancient authors; new [...] Read more.
The article describes the different models for understanding the origin of the Samaritans: the Samaritans’ own view; Flavius Josephus’ two stories; a model based upon the results of the excavations of the cities of Samaria and Shechem, plus information from ancient authors; new insights from the Dead Sea Scrolls; and models based on the results of the Mount Gerizim excavations; and the Delos inscriptions. Each of these models has its modern followers in scholarship, and their various adherents are named. A last part of the article is devoted to the state of the question of the origin of the Samaritans. The presentation is organized according to the sources because the material at hand has produced different solutions to the pertinent questions. Through quoting the texts and presenting the results of the excavations, the author gives the reader an opportunity to form her or his own opinions, both on the different theories and on the origin of the Samaritans. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Samaritanism)
21 pages, 3241 KiB  
Article
The Samaritans during the Hasmonean Period: The Affirmation of a Discrete Identity?
by Jonathan Bourgel
Religions 2019, 10(11), 628; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10110628 - 14 Nov 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 8209
Abstract
The Hasmonean period (167–63 BCE) is increasingly seen in current scholarship as formative for Samaritan identity and, in particular, as the moment when the Samaritans emerged as a self-contained group separate from the Jews. The first aim of this paper is to give [...] Read more.
The Hasmonean period (167–63 BCE) is increasingly seen in current scholarship as formative for Samaritan identity and, in particular, as the moment when the Samaritans emerged as a self-contained group separate from the Jews. The first aim of this paper is to give an overview of the condition of the Samaritans during this period. In largely chronological order, the first part of the article discusses the situation of the Samaritans on the eve of the Hasmonean revolt, at the outbreak of the uprising, and under the rule of the first Hasmoneans. The second aim is to review the commonly held causes of the emergence, at this time, of the Samaritans as a discrete community, such as, for instance, the destruction of the Samaritan temple, the production of the Samaritan Pentateuch and the appearance of anti-Samaritan polemics in Jewish literature. The paper concludes that the Hasmoneans’ attitude toward the Samaritans cannot simply be seen as one of hatred and rejection as is generally assumed. Besides; although some of the historical processes beginning in the Hasmonean period had far-reaching implications for the parting of the ways between Jews and Samaritans; their immediate effects should not be overstated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Samaritanism)
8 pages, 236 KiB  
Article
The Ancient Samaritans and Greek Culture
by Pieter W. van der Horst
Religions 2019, 10(4), 290; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040290 - 24 Apr 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 5877
Abstract
After the conquest of the Near East by Alexander the Great in 332 BCE, the Samaritans, like all other peoples in the region, fell under the influence of Greek culture. In a gradual process of Hellenization, the Samaritans developed their own variant of [...] Read more.
After the conquest of the Near East by Alexander the Great in 332 BCE, the Samaritans, like all other peoples in the region, fell under the influence of Greek culture. In a gradual process of Hellenization, the Samaritans developed their own variant of Hellenism. The extant fragments of Samaritan literature in Greek, as well as quite a number of Greco-Samaritan inscriptions (both in Palestine and the diaspora) testify to the existence of a variegated Samaritan Hellenism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring Samaritanism)
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