The Samaritan woman at the well is a figure from the Gospel of John, in John 4:4–26. In Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic traditions, she is venerated as a saint with the name Photine (also Photini, Photina, meaning "the luminous one" from φως, "light").
The woman appears in John 4:4–42:
But he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.
A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?" (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink', you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." The woman said to him, "Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?" Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life." The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water."
Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come back." The woman answered him, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, 'I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and the man you are now living with is not your husband. What you have said is true!" The woman said to him, "Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem." Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us." Jesus said to her, "I am he, the one who is speaking to you."
This episode takes place before the return of Jesus to Galilee. Some Jews regarded the Samaritans as foreigners and their attitude was often hostile, although they shared most beliefs, while many other Jews accepted Samaritans as either fellow Jews or as Samaritan Israelites. The two communities seem to have drifted apart in the post-exilic period. Both communities share the Pentateuch, although crucially the Samaritan Pentateuch locates the holy mountain at Mount Gerizim rather than at Mount Zion, as this incident acknowledges at John 4:20.
The Gospel of John, like the Gospel of Luke, is favourable to the Samaritans throughout, and, while the Matthaean Gospel quotes Jesus at one early phase in his ministry telling his followers to not at that time evangelize any of the cities of the Samaritans, this restriction had clearly been reversed later by the time of Matthew 28:19. Scholars differ as to whether the Samaritan references in the New Testament are historical. One view is that the historical Jesus had no contact with Samaritans; another is that the accounts go back to Jesus himself. Note that in Acts 1:8, Jesus promises the apostles that they will be witnesses to the Samaritans.
Scholars have noted that this story appears to be modelled on a standard betrothal scene from Hebrew scripture, particularly that of Jacob in Genesis 29. This convention, which would have been familiar to Jewish readers, following on from an earlier scene in which John the Baptist compares his relationship to Jesus with that of the friend of a bridegroom.
This Gospel episode is referred to as "a paradigm for our engagement with truth", in the Roman Curia book A Christian reflection on the New Age, as the dialogue says: "You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know" and offers an example of "Jesus Christ the bearer of the water of life". The passages that comprise John 4:10–26 are sometimes referred to as the Water of Life Discourse, which forms a complement to the Bread of Life Discourse.
In Eastern Christian tradition, the woman's name at the time of her meeting Jesus is unknown, though she was later christened "Photina". She is celebrated as a saint of renown. As further recounted in John 4:28-30 and John 4:39-42, she was quick to spread the news of her meeting with Jesus, and through this many came to believe in him. Her continuing witness is said to have brought so many to the Christian faith that she is described as "equal to the apostles". Eventually, having drawn the attention of Emperor Nero, she was brought before him to answer for her faith, suffering many tortures and dying a martyr after being thrown down a dry well. She is remembered on the Sunday four weeks after Pascha, which is known as "the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman".
In Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico, a celebration of the Samaritan woman takes place on the fourth Friday of Lent. The custom of the day involves churches, schools, and businesses giving away fruit drinks to passers-by.
A Christian reflection on the New Age refers to a six-year study by the Roman Catholic Church on the New Age movement. The study, published in 2003, is highly critical of the New Age movement and follows the 1989 document Aspects of Christian meditation, in which the Vatican warned Catholics against mixing Christian meditation with Eastern approaches to spirituality.
The document's title is Jesus Christ, the bearer of the Water of Life. The document discusses the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well, which it characterizes as "a paradigm for our engagement with truth".The document considers the New Age based on "weak thought" and emphasizes the differences between Catholic thought and the New Age. According to the review of the document in The Tablet, "there is never any doubt in the document that New Age is incompatible with and hostile to the core beliefs of Christianity."Expressing general agreement with the views expressed by the document, Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said that there would be widespread agreement among Baptists that New Age ideas are contrary to Christian tradition and doctrine.Baptistery of San Giovanni in Fonte, Naples
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New Testament people
† Recognized as a prophet. ‡Status as a prophet is not universally recognized