Skip to comments.Jesus talk to Samaritan woman has different meaning than modern scholars suggest
Posted on 05/05/2012 5:55:53 AM PDT by se99tp
Many writers focus here on what they consider to be the moral failings of the woman making her out to be an immoral loose woman but this reads into the text what is not there. In reality, the focus is on the failure of the men in her life. We are simply not told how she came to lose her husbands; was she divorced or was she widowed? In view of social practices in ancient Samaria, it is not unlikely that the woman was married more than once to men very much her senior in which case she could well have been widowed two or three times. Then too we should bear in mind that in her society it was men, not women who found it easy to divorce. So, regardless of whether she had been bereaved or abandoned, either way, she had been disappointed by men. Male commentators have frequently focused on what they consider to be her racy sexual history, but if the text makes no such judgment, then neither should we.
Great point. I’m going to have to go re-read that right now.
Yeah, its always the men who fail in todays womanly society of feminist males.
Joh 4:13 Jesus answered and said to her, Everyone drinking of this water will thirst again;
14 but whoever may drink of the water which I will give him will not thirst, never! But the water which I will give to him will become a fountain of water in him, springing up into everlasting life.
4:26 Jesus said to her, I AM! the One speaking to you.
Having 5 husbands is nothing in a society that controls marriage which matches the older people with wealth to the younger people with strength. Might be important to know more about Samaritan lifestyles, of course, but for the purpose of understanding this story such knowledge is not needed.
Going through this just now I noticed the cadence of the story went from greater to smaller, condition of total compliance with the law to possible non compliance (unmarriage after a lifetime of forced marriage), first to last, "living water" that quenches thirst contrasted to ordinary water that doesn't, and so on.
These structural elements are consistent with traditions of oral transmission of information ~ and although this supposedly too place at noon while the other disciples went to buy lunch at a nearby town the woman went from her short conversation with Jesus to convert a great number of Samaritans.
That is, she went from no direct knowledge of the Messiah to being a powerful witness who drew many to the Truth.
Jesus once more tells them he has food of which they have no knowledge.
So, there's a lot of work to do here to dig into all the depths of understanding because this is not really a simple story.
Did somebody say the woman's sex life was important? This was about someone recognizing the Messiah IMMEDIATELY.
I am impressed with the ability of the Apostle John to compress so many messages into such a short story about a trip to a well ~ the well where Jesus was himself getting a drink.
No doubt at some point in his own life John realized Jesus was the Messiah. How much more profound that the woman at the well did so with only the slightest amount of information about Him.
..................as feminist scholar, Sandra M. Schneiders claims,.....................
Why should I believe what it doesn’t say?
And then there is the 18th verse in the Gospel according to John: “for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband”.
But the important point of their meeting is not what Jesus, in his divine omniscience, knew about the woman’s current and past marital status, but, when the Samaritan woman stated, “I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us;” the important and eternal truth is Jesus’ reply: “I, the one speaking to youI am he.”
Jesus says, "the one you have now is not your husband." That could mean that she and her boyfriend are posing as married but she doesn't try to lie to Jesus about the situation, or maybe after five marriages she is openly living with someone she isn't married to and the other villagers don't care. We aren't told how many of the marriages ended with the death of her husband and how many were ended by divorce. Maybe she was divorced five times for adultery, and husbands numbers two to five were her lovers when she was married to her previous spouse.
So she was really a very good person and shacking up with her latest dude was okay.
Your extraction algorithms had to work perfectly every time, all the time.
The Bible contains a number of compression routines ~ for the mind, so you can remember the material. The "begats", the big boat full of stalls and cages, the garden with every kind of tree and plant, ..... the greater/the smaller, the higher/the lower, the best, the worst (yin and yan ~ to help the memory recall the story that conveys the lesson)
The story of the woman at the well is so multiply compressed it is truly incredible.
It speaks to every social class differently, at every time in history, to both sexes, to God Himself, to the lowest human, ~~~~~~ this story must be among the chief stories every missionary would need to know ~ going over it a couple of times I think I can almost recite it ~ something I'd never done before.
A minor note ~ there are "numbers' in this story that relate to OTHER important Christian symbolic representations ~ so just remembering the numbers should enable you to produce a decent sermon on the spot.
Sure, I read the story in the past, but that was before I was blind. Since then I read the story differently asking myself "how can I best remember this story lest the day come again when I can no longer see', and it is a good story which tells me in its cadence how to remember it. Just hum the mind's melody and it will come back.
Did someone ever worry about this woman's sex life? That's just not in there. Or, maybe it is ~ I'll do a feminist evaluation later ~ when i have time.
The word `husband`, N.T. Greek `aner`, is not used here- The word `andra` = man, male person, is the word used here.
The word aner, `husband` appears nowhere in this part of John 4.
Different accents, so to speak. The four gospels likewise tell the same story with different emphases. Which is why the four were never successfully blended into a single narrative.
What we now call “shacking up”.
The negative corollary here is that the text does not go on to say, “And she joined herself to her live-in boyfriend in marriage immediately.”
This is not a lesson on morality nor on marriage. It is one of recognizing the Messiah as the propitiation of sin for all; Jew, Gentile, Greek, Samaritan, you and me.
Never forget that “Faith”, in the Christian sense of the word, is a verb!
We can never really know but questioning is a beginning.
For example, let me question the notion that Jesus was a poor man. Poor people dont need a treasurer. The logistics of relocating a group of people and providing shelter and nourishment would have been costly. Perhaps that explains why Jesus needed and had a treasurer.
This is literal-mindedness at its most stupid. The five husbands represent the five senses. Much of what Jesus said was symbolic and metaphoric, and was understood as such at that time.
See John 4:18--"...and he whom you now have is not your husband [aner]"
People who do not know Greek should not speak as if they do. Greek is an inflected language. Nouns and adjectives are declined to satisfy surface level case. [aner] is nominative, [andra] is accusative.
One of the key points here is that the woman is a Samaritan, and as such was an outcast in Jewish society at the time. This theme comes up repeatedly throughout the Gospels, and should not be overlooked in a passage like this. During this discourse the woman questions Jesus because he seems to be contradfcting well-established Jewish protocols regarding conversing with Samaritans and even showing up in Samaria as a "prophet."
At the end of this passage, Jesus stays in Samaria for two days and many Samaritans accept him as the Messiah. This is basically a rebuke to those "real Jews" who did NOT accept him.
I don't think you could be more alone and outcast in the Classical World than to be a woman without support, on her own, and with no children.
Yet this lowest of the low in a community (the Samaritans) looked down upon by every Jew ~ met God Himself at the well ~ just asking her for a drink of her water.
That message is there in highly compressed form ~ but what does it mean?
In other passages Jesus discusses what that means and ties it to Classical standards of morality as well as personal salvation. Sermon on the Mount comes to mind.
There's the widow who gave her mite ~ which was her all. SImilar to this woman ~ she has nothing to give but a drink of water which she does without question ~ then Jesus reveals his identity to her.
I said I'd leave the feminist deconstruction for later, but it's there in compressed format ~ and by drawing out the message from the text Jesus is illuminated. He is not just compassionate, he is just, and he's also some fellow who asked for water ~ from the "least of these".
I begin to see a comprehensive unity of the message in the Gospels ~ and what I will need to do to find out how to hang onto it. And tell others.
There is much work to be done before my next, and probably final, bout with blindness.
Little. One needs to read the whole narrative (the woman at the well), which culminates at 4:42. The Bible itself explains the significance of the narrative's elements. Verses 4:34-4:38 appear to begin something new, but we see in 4:39-4:42 "sowing and reaping". It all began by Jesus sharing the gospel with a woman of low class while resting at a well. He sowed. She sowed. She reaped. He reaped.
"...look at the fields for they are already white for harvest. And he who reaps receives wages and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together." I am encouraged to open my mouth and share the gospel -- if not a reaping then a sowing.