Samaritan woman at the well

The Samaritan woman at the well is a figure from the Gospel of John, in. In Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic traditions, she is venerated as a saint with the name Photine.

Biblical account

The woman appears in John 4:4–42, However below is John 4:4–26:
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, 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 'type 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. Jo-Ann A. Brant, for example, concludes that there is "near consensus among literary critics that the scene at Jacob’s well follows conventions of the betrothal type-scene found in Hebrew narrative." Other scholars note significant differences between John 4 and betrothal type-scenes in the Hebrew Bible. For example, Dorothy A. Lee lists several discrepancies between Hebrew betrothal scenes and John 4: “the Samaritan woman is not a young Jewish virgin and no betrothal takes place; the well is not concerned with sexual fertility but is an image of salvation ; Jesus is presented not as a bridegroom but as giver of living water.”
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 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 baptized "Photini". She is celebrated as a saint of renown. As further recounted in and, 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.

Cultural references

In visual art

In music