Journal of Comparative Law, Vol. 1, No. 1 (2006), pp. 204-206


I have set out this coda by my close relative and colleague with some reluctance. My reluctance has nothing to do with the quality of the peace. But Sandy is insistent. He is keen on advancement within his law school. Publications are needed. But no law review would be interested in this; it is too short, and has not enough footnotes.

My reluctance to deal with Sandy's coda increased because it contains no law. Yet, it is precisely that which brings out the importance of the episode of Jesus and the Samaritan woman in the Gospel of John. For the Gospel is full of law. The woman was Samaritan, and therefore always unclean and should not have been touched by a Jew. Her water pot was presumably made of pottery and would therefore partake of her uncleanliness and pass it on to Jesus. The Samaritans, who sold food to the disciples, would be unclean through contact with Samaritan women. Moreover, it was wrong for religious Jews to buy food that had not certainly been tithed to the temple, and this food had certainly not been tithed because Samaritans did not accept the temple. Law in everyday life is found in many contexts but is often unnoticed. This is especially true for the Gospels: Jews do not read the Gospels, and Christians do not read Jewish legal works. But the Gospels, especially Mark and John, are full of law in action and are largely ignored by comparative lawyers and legal historians. Yet knowledge of law adds a further dimension to such episodes, and the episodes add a further dimension to our understanding of law. Law in action is often different from law in books.

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