Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

The Anti-Samaritan Attitude as Reflected in Rabbinic Midrashim

Version 1 : Received: 11 May 2021 / Approved: 12 May 2021 / Online: 12 May 2021 (13:47:26 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Lehnardt, A. The Anti-Samaritan Attitude as Reflected in Rabbinic Midrashim. Religions 2021, 12, 584. Lehnardt, A. The Anti-Samaritan Attitude as Reflected in Rabbinic Midrashim. Religions 2021, 12, 584.


Samaritans as a group within the ranges of ancient ‘Judaisms’ are often mentioned in Talmud and Midrash. As comparable social-religious entities, they are regarded ambivalently by the Rabbis. First, they were viewed as Jews, but from the end of the Tannaitic times, and especially after the Bar Kokhba revolt, they were perceived as non-Jews, not reliable about different fields of Halakhic concern. Rabbinic writings reflect on this change in attitude and describe a long ongoing conflict and a growing anti-Samaritan attitude. The article analyzes several dialogues between rabbis and Samaritans transmitted in the Midrash on the book of Genesis, Bereshit Rabbah. In four larger sections, the famous Rabbi Me’ir is depicted as the counterpart of certain Samaritans. The analyses of these discussions try to show how rabbinic texts avoid any direct exegetical dispute over particular verses of the Torah, but point to other hermeneutical levels of discourse and rejection of Samaritan claims. These texts thus reflect a remarkable understanding of some Samaritan convictions, and they demonstrate how rabbis denounced Samaritanism and refuted their counterparts. The Rabbi Me’ir dialogues thus are an impressive literary witness to the final stages of the parting of ways of these diverging religious streams.


Samaritans; Ancient Judaism; Rabbinic Literature; Talmud; Midrash


Arts and Humanities, Religious Studies

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