Samaritan religion in the fourth century A.D.1This paper was presented in an abridged form at the meeting of the International Association for the History of Religions, Sydney, 1985. | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 41, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2542-6583
  • E-ISSN: 2590-3268



The article sets out to analyse the validity of current opinions about the nature of Samaritan religion in the fourth century A.D. and to show the consequences for scholarship of changing perceptions of those ideas. In the first place it suggests that Baba Rabbah the Samaritan warrior-hero lived rather earlier than is currently accepted and, therefore, the changes that were ushered in by Baba were well in place before the fourth century.

It is argued that, until the time of Baba, Samaritanism was still seen to be a Jewish sect, albeit that there were differences within Samaritanism between the country-folk and the urban dwellers. The latter were probably more remote from Judaism than the former, and the difference in the attitude of Jewish and Christian observers towards the Samaritans may have been coloured by whether they were speaking of urban dwellers or country-folk.

After the time of Baba Samaritanism began to diverge rapidly from Judaism. One of the factors that triggered this divergence was probably the adoption of a text of the Pentateuch that had readings which supported developments in Samaritan theology. Thus the rise of the Samaritan Pentateuch is seen to be a feature of Baba’s activity.


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