I don’t usually take the internet quizzes that various friends post on Facebook. But this week I took one that was posted by fellow intern Mary Ann Harris Siefke. It was a short quiz of only about 10 easily answered questions that was supposed to tell me which Disciple I was most like. Upon finishing the quiz, it said I was most like Philip because I am “an inquisitive and analytical person.”… My “role as a disciple of Christ is that of an open-minded and nonjudgmental philosopher.” It went on to say that I “inspire debate and thought provoking dialogue that challenges others to ‘Come and see’ what Jesus is all about.” (http://www.churchleaders.com/daily-buzz/248447-disciple-take-short-quiz-find.html ) I can live with that. As a bonus, at the bottom, it also told me which woman in scripture I was most like. It indicated that I was most like Photine, the Samaritan woman. But it did not give any explanation for this choice.
I recently started an adult Sunday school class that is looking at various women in Scripture. So far we have looked at Jephthah’s daughter and at Tamar (the one in Genesis). Because of this quiz, I am going to have the class look at the Samaritan woman at the well next week. I will likely ask them if the quiz was correct. Is she the woman I am most like in scripture?
In the story of the Samaritan woman (John 4), Jesus was resting at the well while the disciples had gone off to the city to buy food. A Samaritan woman came to the well and Jesus said to her “Give me a drink.” This led to the longest discussion that Jesus had with anyone, woman or man, that is recorded in the Bible. It included a theological discussion concerning the difference between the water drawn from the well and the living water that Jesus could give.
The woman was clearly surprised that Jesus would initiate a conversation. There was an enmity between Jews and Samaritans. They generally avoided contact with each other. And it was even more unusual for a Jewish man to initiate contact with a Samaritan woman. The woman knew this. She stated, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” And when the disciples came back from their shopping trip in the city, we are told that they too were astonished to find Jesus talking with a Samaritan woman. But Jesus, as he often does, is ignoring boundaries. He ignores gender boundaries by speaking with women. He ignores social and racial boundaries by speaking with Samaritans.
The woman clearly had an interesting and likely hard life. In the course of the conversation, it comes out that she has had five husbands and the one she currently has is not her husband. Many have interpreted this to claim that the woman was of low moral character. But the text doesn’t tell us why she previously had five husbands. Perhaps she had been widowed multiple times and was stuck in the levirate marriage tradition like Tamar. Whatever the reason is that she has had five husbands, it should be noted that Jesus never condemns her.
Both Jesus and the Samaritan woman were at the well because they needed water to satisfy their bodily need. But Jesus also led her to consider water beyond that which can be found in the well. If one drinks from the well, one will become thirsty again. Jesus offers her the water that only he can give, living water. If one drinks of the living water, one will not thirst again.
The woman was changed after her encounter with Jesus. She went back to the city and told the people to “come and see.” And we are told that the people listened to her for they left the city and they went to see Jesus.
We too have access to the living water that Jesus gives. Do we invite people to “come and see” what Jesus is all about?
When the results of the quiz I mentioned at the beginning of the blog popped up on screen, I had never heard the name of Photine before. The Samaritan woman is not named in Scripture. But in the Orthodox tradition, she is a saint and considered an “equal-to-the-apostles.” According to the orthodox wiki ( https://orthodoxwiki.org/Photine_of_Samaria ) the apostles baptized her and gave her the name Photine which means “enlightened one.” She converted her five sisters and two sons. Tradition has it that they all become evangelists for Christ. Later, Photine went to Carthage with her sons where they were all martyred under the reign of Emperor Nero in 66 CE.
So, was the quiz correct? Am I like Photine, the Samaritan woman? I certainly have no desire to be martyred. But I would like to think that not only I, but all the people at Hope Lutheran of Coesse are like Photine. I’d like to think that we go and do so that people will come and see what Jesus is all about.
~ Intern Thomas