Saturday, November 20, 2010

Samaritans: The Other Palestinians

In the West Bank there are more indigenous groups other than Arab Palestinians and the tiny amount of pre-Zionist settler Jews. There is another Palestinian group, less than eight hundred in the world, known as Samaritans. Others live in Israel. This small ethnic-religious community descend from ancient Israelites. They broke away from the Judea Temple cult over two thousand years ago. The Samaritan Pentateuch (The Torah/first five books of the Bible: Genesis through Deuteronomy) is written in their script and contains around 6000 differences in the text compared to the traditional Hebrew Masoretic Text. The Christian New Testament tells many stories of the tensions between Jews and Samaritans in the past. In the Gospel of John Chapter 4, Jesus is recorded as having a discussion with a Samaritan women. Jesus clearly saw himself possessing the greater religion:
“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem...[Jesus then states]You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.
Despite this apparent prejudice, Jesus famous parable about the "Good Samaritan" seen in The Gospel of Luke 10:25-37 portrays a Samaritan as the best example of an exceedingly moral, caring, selfless, human being. This community is now nearly extinct and sandwiched in between the Israel/Palestine conflict (See here). Many may not know they still exist despite their iconic legacy on the theological philosophies and ethics of the Western World.

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