In 1997 in a living room outside of Atlanta, I heard a message on the Samaritan Woman. The speaker had the traditional viewpoint of her character: that she was ostracized, that she came to the well alone because of the scorn of others, and that she was a whore. I was very moved by the message, and though I can’t remember what exactly struck me so significantly, since that night I feel a pull to TELL HER STORY every time she is brought to mind.
I always considered that I would write a fictional account, due to an apparent dearth of information, but that has changed. In the last year as I have slowly begun to dig into her story, I think it must be told as truthfully as we can determine, based on the more-than-I-ever-imagined resources that exist. Whether the writer of the fourth Gospel puts this incident in for literary quality only, or remembers her as an amalgam of several experiences are possibilities I haven’t personally ruled out yet, but at this point I am taking the tack that she was a real woman whose interaction with Jesus became history, not only because her story was written down (halleluiah) but because she was pivotal in spreading the gospel in Samaria.
I’ve become familiar with my biases. I want her to be strong, independent, respectable. I can hardly avoid looking for the angle that tells the story I want told. However, the research and the study I have done so far have proved that the possibilities are fascinating, and digging into her actual story will benefit far more than just using her story for my own agenda. Whether I will succeed remains to be seen. Right now, I’m trying to set my biases aside, and explore the biases that really matter here- those of the author of the gospel of John. More on that soon.