Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Actually Good Samaritan, A Woman

Here are 4 related posts on the Good Samaritan as a Woman or the Samaritan Woman as not so bad.  They're also posts on how the human (female) perspective gets lost (or tarnished) in interpretation too often:


For years I’ve been saying that jumping to the conclusion that the Samaritan Woman Jesus meets at the well of Jacob is a prostitute is nothing but male fantasy (which is why it’s been wrong for 2,000 years. The male interpreters and writers want to see a prostitute, so that’s what they write about.


He [Jesus] eventually invites her [the Samaritan Woman] to call her husband, and when she replies that she has no husband, he agrees: "You have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband" (4:18).  And that's it. That's the sentence that has branded her a prostitute. Conservative preacher John Piper's treatment is characteristic. In a sermon on this passage, he describes her as "a worldly, sensually-minded, unspiritual harlot from Samaria," and at another point in the sermon calls her a "whore."


In her response to Jesus, the Samaritan woman introduces the idea that theirs is both a gender and an ethnic difference. Here, however, she is safe and intimacy with Jesus is based on the sharing of truths.

Our ideas about intimacy often have sexual connotations and it is interesting that in her disclosure about having five husbands, we regard her immoral, aware as we are of her unusual noon-day visit to the well (so she might avoid day-break or evening crowds). Reader-response theories wonder if the text seeks to undo us for the judgements we impose on the text. She might have outlived her husbands in a culture where levirate marriage was the norm, or more convincingly Schneiders (1997, 249) argues that 'the entire dialogue … has nothing to do with the woman's private moral life.' Schneiders (1997, 247) and Moore (2003, 282) believe there is an allegorical significance to the woman's five husbands being representative of Samaria's colonial past, with the present man representing 'the Samaritans' false worship of the true God,' (Barrett, 1965, 225).


Give it until the very end, until you have nothing left.  And then your reward will come.

     How readily women hear that message!  How easily we believe these words.  Give all.  Don't question.  Don't be angry.  Don't doubt that your reward will be on some distant horizon....

     The parable of the Good Samaritan came to my mind, but with a new lesson, one particularly for women.
     ...a Samaritan, as she journeyed, came to where he was, and when she saw him, she had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring oil and win, then she set him on her own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  And the next day she took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, "Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay when I come back." (adapted from Luke 10:33-35 KJV)
      She left.  She left!  The woman tended to his wounds, brought him to a safe place, took care of him, and paid his way.  And then she left.
--  Peggy Weaver "The Good Samaritan Woman"


Shawna Atteberry said...

Thank you so much for the link love. Thank you for pointing to Rachel and Peggy too. Their articles look great, and I love Peggy's take on The Good Samaritan Woman. I will have to go read both in full.

Shawna Atteberry said...

And now I'm going to have to buy The Wisdom of Daughters. Can't believe I don't have this in my library.

J. K. Gayle said...

Thanks for your comments here. Many of us appreciate your posts, your linking to your thesis, and your sharing link love too. If you haven't already bought The Wisdom of Daughters, the publisher has it on sale here. And, your comment on Mary Magdalene, on how she's been misinterpreted, inspired a new post here; thanks!