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REL 121: From the Word to the World

A Guide to Library Resources

Finding Information about the Cultural Background: examples related to John 4:1-42 (Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the Well)

Does the passage reflect images, motifs, or ways of thinking that must be understood against the background of Jewish or Graeco-Roman culture, religion, and philosophy?  For example, how were Samaritans regarded by the Jews? Commentaries will often provide helpful insight on such matters. To find a book about relations between Samaritans and Jews,  you could start with a Simple Search in WorldCat, our library catalogue:

Go to the Description of relevant books and scroll down to the Subjects field. Take note of relevant subject headings (to include in searches).

You could also try an Advanced Search in WorldCat.  The following search will provide information about the social/cultural world of John, the gospels or the New Testament as a whole:

Useful Subject Headings and Keywords:

  • Bible. John Socio-rhetorical criticism
  • Bible. John Social scientific criticism
  • Culture, cultural
  • social, society

AND finds all terms

OR finds either term

cultur* finds any ending (culture, cultural)

How were Samaritans regarded by Jews? The following search will provide articles on this topic:

Go to  EBSCO Services on the library Databases page and try the following search.

Go to JSTOR and try the following search after selecting Advanced Search.  For additional help with JSTOR, look under the Databases tab on the library website.

Peter Turkstra Library,  Redeemer University , 777 Garner Road East, Ancaster, ON, L9K 1J4, Canada
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