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.
the northern kingdom of Israel), with some admixture over the centuries of non-Israelite groups from the Assyrian and Hellenistic empires. As a matter of fact, by the 1st century A.D., the region of Samaria was inhabited by a number of different ethnic groups, the exact percentages of which are not known7. They probably included Samaritans (in the third sense defined below), Jews, other indigenous Semitic populations of the Syrian-Palestinian region that had been Hellenized, descendants of the Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian ruling classes, and descendants of the Greek conquerors from the time of Alexander the Great.
(3) One might also define the Samaritans in terms of their religion: Samaritans were those Semites (a) who worshiped the God YHWH, (b) but who, in distinction from mainstream Jews, revered Mt. Gerizim (near ancient Shechem in Samaria) instead of Mt. Zion in Jerusalem as the one valid place to build an altar or temple for the public worship of Yahweh, (c) who maintained that their line of Levitical priests functioning on Mt. Gerizim were the legitimate priests of the Mosaic dispensation, as opposed to the priests functioning in the Jerusalem temple, and (d) who accepted only the five books of Moses (the Pentateuch) as authoritative Scripture, to the exclusion of the still fluid corpus of the Prophets and the Writings developing alongside the Pentateuch in mainstream Judaism. Part of the problem here is that these three ways of defining Samaritans partially overlap while not perfectly coinciding with one another.
Since the Gospels naturally tend to view the Samaritans from a religious point of view, and since some elements of the religious definition of Samaritans peek through the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4 (the longest single treatment of Samaritans in the Gospels), in what follows I will use the religious definition as best suited to the purposes of our quest. Another reason for using the religious definition is that it avoids the pitfall of imagining that everyone who lived in the region of Samaria was a Samaritan in the religious sense of the term. By the 1st century A.D., as I have indicated above, there were notable pockets of Hellenized pagans in Samaria, especially in its capital city of Sebaste (the OT city of Samaria). Such pagans were Samarians geographically but not Samaritans religiously.
Beyond the minimal definition of Samaritan religion sketched above, it is difficult to be precise about the details of Samaritan religion