The Samaritans: A Profile.

Author:Stadel, Christian
Position:Book review

The Samaritans: A Profile. By REINHARD PUMMER. Grand Rapids, MI: WILLIAM B. EERDMANS PUBLISHING COMPANY, 2016. Pp. xiv + 362. $30 (paper).

For many, the Samaritans exist only as a cliche, although a flattering one: that of the Good Samaritan. But there is more to this ancient people than the parable from the Gospel of Luke (or John's account of Jesus meeting a Samaritan woman at Jacob's well). For the Samaritan is not only a literary figure: on a stroll in Holon, Israel, or in Kiryat Luza on Mt. Gerizim, one can still meet Samaritans of flesh and blood. And these Samaritans look back on more than 2000 years of history; they stick to a unique form of the Israelite religion and study a rich body of religious literature in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic. All those who are interested in getting to know the historical and the living Samaritans, the people behind the literary figures from the Gospels and their culture, should pick up a copy of Reinhard Pummer's The Samaritans: A Profile.

In twelve chapters, Pummer surveys thoroughly most aspects of Samaritan culture, offering a concise and very readable summary of two centuries of research (reflected in the impressive bibliography, in which even the specialist will discover new items). Pummer's book is not the first general conspectus of Samaritans and Samaritan studies, and its value depends to a large extent on how it compares with A. D. Crown's The Samaritans (1989) or the Companion to Samaritan Studies (1993) by A. D. Crown, R. Pummer, and A. Tal (which is somewhat different in scope). In this reviewer's opinion, Pummer's book exceeds its predecessors for a number of reasons. His work is up-to-date and incorporates hundreds of new studies and bibliographical items that have been published since the surge in Samaritan studies in the 1980s. The previous works were collective volumes and therefore somewhat repetitive (and the chapters notably varied in quality). Since Pummer has written a monograph, he successfully avoided these pitfalls. His excellent presentation of Samaritan literature, which includes references to unedited manuscript sources, is a showpiece in this respect, as is the chapter on Samaritans today, which incorporates the results of recent sociological research, a neglected perspective in Samaritan studies. Since space does not permit an in-depth review of all aspects of the book, I limit my remarks to a few important issues, most of which pertain to Pummer's book as well as to...

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