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Woman of Samaria

jesus conversation john bucket

The conversation between Jesus and a Samaritan woman at a well is narrated in *John 4. The event took place when Jesus was traveling between Judaea and Galilee through the region of Samaria; the Samaritans, related historically to the northern kingdom of Israel, were regarded with hostility by the *Jews of Jerusalem; but Jesus engaged in a lengthy and significant conversation with the Samaritan woman, who then announced him to her people as Messiah. Their meeting is illustrated in Christian art as early as the third century (e.g., in catacomb frescoes) and is found in various media Page 267  up through the twelfth century. The initial popularity of the image is probably due to the references to salvation through *Baptism which Jesus implied in his words concerning the water of “everlasting life” (John 4:14). The story also reveals Jesus’ prescient knowledge (of the history and status of this perhaps adulterous woman) and his willingness to engage in conversation with people of all social and religious classes. The scene is always depicted taking place outdoors, around a well; the woman may be drawing up water (for Jesus to drink) with a bucket suspended on a rope, or she may bend over with a bucket to approach the well. Jesus may be shown seated or standing, gesturing toward the woman, indicating speech. Occasionally, additional figures may be present—the disciples who are later mentioned in the text in further conversation with Jesus.
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