Religious art is fascinating, not simply because of what it depicts, but how the artist portrays the subject matter. Art, in whatever form, is about interpretation, and the arts acts as the interpreter, using a particular medium or form to do so, with each interpretation radically different than the next. It is fascinating to see how different artists interpret and portray the same subject.
One such piece of art that fascinates me, and I’ve seen it several times, is a small porcelain figurine that depicts this encounter between Jesus, and the Samaritan woman. 
Jesus sits on one side of the well. He is tall, handsome, masculine, with lots of shoulder length hair. He is deep in conversation with the woman. She stands, leaning over with her elbow resting on the wellhead. She looks directly at Jesus. Her hair is loose and flowing, and her dress is falling off one shoulder. Her hand is under her chin, just so. She is enticing, alluring, and attractive.
Jews hated Samaritans. In fact, they despised them.
There were a number of reasons why they held them in such contempt:
- First, they considered them schismatics because they had built a rival temple to the one in Jerusalem.
- Second, they were seen as heretics because they took only the five books of the Torah to be their scriptures.
- Third, they were a mixed breed, people of questionable ancestry who had intermarried with foreigners and had been influenced by heathen customs and practices.
- And fourth, they refused to follow Jewish rituals or keep Kosher.
The very mention of Samaritans could turn the stomach of a Jew. Jews hated Samaritans – despised them – and avoided them in every possible way. Jesus knew this, which is why he makes a Samaritan the hero of his best-known parable; he’s the one, you remember, who stopped and helped the beaten man by the side of the road after both a priest and a Levite had passed him by. It’s also why he points out that when ten lepers were cured, the only one returned to him to give thanks was a Samaritan.