Scripture Study Day: The Woman at the Well

On 19th July, Fr. John Deehan and Magdalen Lawler, SND jointly interpreted the Woman at the Well from John's Gospel.

John began by explaining three approaches to biblical exegesis: author-oriented, text-oriented and reader-oriented.  Meanwhile Magdalen demonstrated how it is possible to apply to images many of the criteria applied to texts.  For example: What theology does this image suggest? What image of God? What are its historical origins? How can this image be appropriated and used for pastoral and spiritual effectiveness.

John then led us into the geographical, historical and cultural background to the Woman at the Well narrative, recalling the ‘well stories’ from Genesis and Exodus, and their influence on Jn. 4.

Participants were then invited by John to read chapter 4 of the Fourth Gospel, and together to draw out the encounter between Jesus and the woman as steps in the process of evangelisation

Magdalen took us through the historical origins of Christian images, beginning with the portraits from the Greco-Roman world found in the catacombs around 200CE.  She explained that the first Christian symbol, the fish, was chosen as the only creature to survive the Flood unaided.  The main focus of Magdalen’s reflection was an ancient icon of the meeting between Jesus and the woman at the well.