John P. Meier, «The Historical Jesus and the Historical Samaritans: What can be Said?», Vol. 81 (2000) 202-232
Careful analysis of the Gospels shows that there is not very much hard data about the historical Jesus interaction with or views about the Samaritans. There is multiple attestation, found in the Lucan and Johannine traditions, that Jesus, different from typical views of his time, held a benign view of Samaritans and had positive, though passing, encounters with some Samaritans. However, there is gospel agreement, from silence or statement, that Jesus had no programmatic mission to the Samaritans. Besides the above important conclusions, this essay also makes clear the useful distinction between Samaritans and Samarians.
Our focus is instead a narrow one: Jesus in relation to the Samaritans. Granted this restriction, what do we mean when we speak about the Samaritans who might have interacted with Jesus? The label Samaritan is a slippery one:
(1) One might define Samaritans in terms of geography: Samaritans were the inhabitants of the region called Samaria, located in 1st-century Palestine to the north of Judea and to the south of Galilee on the western side of the Jordan River. Its capital city was also originally called Samaria, though in the 1st century B.C. Herod the Great had rebuilt it and renamed it Sebaste in honor of Augustus Caesar (the Greek equivalent of Augustus being Sebastos 5). As we shall see, the population group defined in these geographical terms might better be called Samarians6.
(2) One might also define the Samaritans in terms of physical descent or ethnic makeup: Samaritans were the presumed descendants of the Israelite tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh (main components of