"Psalm 23," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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Woman at the Well
John 4:1-42 Commentary
by David Lose
Sometimes I think the way we interpret this passage says as much about us as it does the passage.
For this is a passage and story that has, in my opinion, been notoriously misinterpreted, in part because we read it in isolation of the rest of John’s gospel and in part because of the Church’s history of bad treatment of women.
So let me lay my cards on the table: I don’t think the Samaritan woman is a prostitute. I don’t think that she has a shady past. And I don’t think Jesus forgives her. Rather, I think he calls her not to repentance but to life-giving faith. Allow me to explain.
The character who occupies center stage of this passage is a woman of Samaritan descent, and even if we don’t know what that means, John goes out of his way to tell us. First, Jews and Samaritans don’t get along (verse 9); second, women and men generally keep a safe social distance from each other (verse 27).
All of which explains why she is so surprised when Jesus asks her for a drink. When she makes a remark to that effect, he offers her living water. Confused, ...
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Summer 2020 Readings
2020-21 Readings (Year 3)
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
Narrative Lectionary 114: Woman at the Well
February 02, 2014
Join Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Kathryn Schifferdecker for "I Love to Tell the Story," a conversation on Year 4 of the narrative lectionary. This podcast covers the text for Feb. 2, 2014: John 4:1-42. Accompanying reading: Psalm 42:1-3.