The people settled by the Assyrians in the district of Samaria (according to 2 Kgs. 17: 29) and who were alleged by Jews to practise a form of Hebrew worship contaminated by combination with their previous cult. However, the evidence is rather that there was no one decisive event which established the breach. The characteristic beliefs and conservative customs were consolidated from the 3rd century bce after the campaigns of Alexander the Great had created new political conditions throughout the Near East. In NT times Samaritans were despised by Jews as foreigners (Luke 17: 18) though in fact they still had much in common with Jews. While the Samaritan Bible consisted only of the Pentateuch, the group claimed to observe it more strictly than the Jews, especially in the regulations for the Sabbath. The Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim was destroyed by Jews in 128 bce and thereafter the priests conducted the Passover sacrifices on the site (John 4: 20). In 6 ce some Samaritans crept into the Jerusalem Temple and scattered human bones in it. After the uproar and other subsequent disturbances Pontius Pilate ordered a massacre on Mount Gerizim, which led to the Samaritans' demand for his deposition in 37 ce. The common heritage of Jews and Samaritans combined with the history of friction and dissent adds to the piquancy of Jesus' friendliness towards them (Luke 17: 18; John 4: 7) and the astonishing anti-racism of the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 33). In the expansion of the Church from Jerusalem to Rome, the Samaritans occupy a midway position between the evangelization of Palestinian Jews and Hellenistic Jews on the one hand, and Gentiles on the other (Acts 8: 12). In spite of persecution and the political and military upheavals of Palestine, a small Samaritan community has survived to modern times.
Subjects: Biblical Studies.