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.
The Samaritan Pentateuch
January 17, 2016
The Samaritan Pentateuch is not a version but a rival Hebrew text type to the Masoretic text (a.d. 90). It is an independent witness to Hebrew text types.
In the fifth century b.c. the Samaritans adopted and adapted the Pentateuch alone as their sacred Scriptures. Since there were some changes in the extant Hebrew manuscripts during the later centuries, the Samaritan Pentateuch is an important tool for doing textual criticism, which tries to ascertain the probable original readings of the Masoretic text. It differs from the received Masoretic text in mostly minor ways. At times it agrees with the Septuagint, at times with the Masoretic text, at times with the manuscripts among the DSS.
The diligent study of the Dead Sea Scrolls has supported Kahle’s view that the Samaritan Pentateuch represents a “popular revision of an older text in which antiquated forms and constructions, not familiar to people of later times, were replaced by forms and constructions easier to be understood, difficulties were removed, parallel passages were inserted” (Cairo Geniza, 1st ed., 147ff.). The DSS have shown that before the Masoretic text was standardized (a.d. 90) several Hebrew text types were being used at Qumran. Some Hebrew texts from Qumran are similar to the “popular” text type of the Samaritan Pentateuch; so it seems that the Samaritan Pentateuch may be a popular Palestinian Hebrew text edited by the Samaritans themselves.
The Samaritan Pentateuch varies from the Masoretic text nearly six thousand times. But these variances are nearly all minor. In two thousand of these cases it agrees with the Septuagint (LXX). A couple of these variations are especially revealing about the differences between the Jews and Samaritans. Mt. Gerazim is emphasized in the Samaritan Pentateuch (cf. Dt 12:5; cf. 11:29). Mt. Gerazim replaces Mt. Ebal in Dt 27:4-8, and inserts a tendential passage right after the Ten Commandments in Ex 20:2-17 and Dt 5:6-21, which emphasizes Mt. Gerazim again.
The Samaritan Pentateuch was first acquired and published by European scholars in the seventeenth century. In 1632 it was published in the Paris Polyglot Bible. A. von Gall provided the standard printed edition of the Samaritan pentateuch in 1914-18, Giessen, Germany. It was reprinted in 1963 in Berlin.
About the Congregation of Mt. Garizzim Samaritans: