Bible Review 14:3, June 1998


The Good Samaritan

Bible Review

“Love your neighbor as yourself”

Struggling under the weight, the Good Samaritan lifts the limp body of a man—stripped, beaten and left half dead by robbers—onto his horse. In this 1890 painting by Vincent Van Gogh (based on a painting by Eugène Delacroix), the robbers have taken everything but the man’s empty traveling case.

Further along the road, we see the backs of a Levite and a priest—both Jewish religious authorities—as they walk away, having failed to stop and help the man. Only the Samaritan—an adherent of an offshoot of Judaism, traditionally at odds with the Jews—stops to help.

In the Gospel of Luke (10:25–37), Jesus presents the Samaritan as one who will be saved because he has behaved as a true neighbor. When a lawyer asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus responds by quoting from two passages, Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18, in the Hebrew Bible: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself” “And who is my neighbor?” the lawyer asks. Jesus then relates the parable of the Good Samaritan, a passage that appears only in Luke.

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