Pino Blasone

A Long Way to Emmaus Almost a Samaritan Story

1 – Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the Well, Catacomb on the Via Latina, Rome Two by Jacob’s Well Probably, an iconologist will remember the recedent o! an iconogra hy ins ired by an a ocry hal "ersion o! the #nnunciation, so called o! $%ary at the Well&' (here, the !igural characters are )abriel and %ary, the announcing angel and the Virgin #nnunciate' #lso in our case they are a man and a woman by a well, but the !ormer is Jesus' (he latter is resented as a $Samaritan Woman&' What is told o! her ma*es her more similar to a %agdalene, than to the %adonna' (he well is not anonymous but a historical one, at least according to an ancient sacred tradition+ Jacob,s well, in the old region o! Samaria, today su osedly not !ar !rom the town o! -ablus, the biblical Shechem or Sychem' .ne o! the (he Sa"iour as*s the woman !or a drin*' 4n return, he o!!ers her the s iritual water o!

earliest sub/ects !igured by religious artists, the e isode is narrated in John,s )os el, 0+1203'

his holy teaching and ro"idential grace' She wonders !or he, a Jew, treats with !amiliarity one whom the Jews considered a stranger and a heretic, such as the rest o! Samaritans' Returning meanwhile to their %aster, his disci les wonder !or he is tal*ing with an un*nown woman – and a sinner –, what had to be unseemly at those times and laces' 4n reality, here it begins a s eech growing throughout the e"angelical narration, as a core message o! Christianity itsel!' 4t starts a !ocusing on that conce t o! $-eighbour&, which will trans!orm not sim ly the con"entional relation among erce tions as the Sel!, the #lien and the .ther, but e"en between meta hysic ers ecti"es as immanence and transcendence'

3 – 5uccio di Buoninsegna, Christ and the Samaritan Woman, (hyssen2Bornemis6a %useum, %adrid With no eculiar em hasis on the )os els, the theme has been de"elo ed in the essays Alterity and Transcendence, by the Jewish thin*er 7mmanuel L8"inas' # conce t as the $#bsolute .ther& is resent also in the Christian theology o! Rudol! Bultmann' Without com le9 hiloso hic im lications though, all that was essentially intuited by early Christians' #t Rome, the assage o! the )os el is illustrated as a !resco in the catacombs, !or e9am le in the Via Latina Catacomb :mid20th century;' #nd it is a relie! at the !ront centre o! a coe"al marble sarco hagus, in the cry t o! the Se"en %accabees, under the church o! St' Peter in Chains' 4n Ra"enna such image recurs in the mosaics o! the basilica o!

S' # ollinare -uo"o, and in a car"ed i"ory anel on the chair o! %a9imianus, in the sacristy o! the cathedral church :<th century;' 4n most cases Jesus is de icted as a youth beardless and short haired, instead o! a short bearded and long haired man as in later, !ar better *nown and more hieratic images o! him' Both Jesus and the woman wear homely Roman robes' #lready at that e och, most Christians in Rome and elsewhere had to be con"erted )entiles' (hat is originally non2Jews, reached and ersuaded by the new ecumenical message o! the Christ, than*s to his a ostles and missionary disci les' (hus, easily and willingly they could identi!y themsel"es with the good Samaritans o! the )os els' =n!ortunately, in the )os els there are also di!!erent Samaritans, who had re!used to listen to the Sa"iour and e"en to recei"e him into their "illages' (he a ostles had in"o*ed Jesus to call !ire down !rom hea"en, in order to destroy them' >et he had harshly re ro"ed them, re lying that he had come to sa"e men,s souls, not to ruin man*ind :Lu*e? 1@+A12A<;' -ay, the arado9 o! a redilection !or Samaritans in the )os els is rooted in these circumstances'

1 – Jan Wynants, Parable of the Good Samaritan, State Bermitage %useum , St' Petersburg (he scene o! the Samaritan woman at the well will be re resented hundreds o! times more along the centuries, and by the best artists' Bere be it enough to mention Christ and the Samaritan Woman, by the Sienese ainter 5uccio di Buoninsegna :111@21111? (hyssen2

Bornemis6a %useum, %adrid;' (here Jesus is con"ersing seated on the edge o! the well, against a golden, still By6antine styled bac*ground' (he leasant woman is standing, with a itcher balanced on her head' She is tal*ing too, what we can in!er !rom the gestures o! their hands' .n the right o! the icture, we can see some disci les while coming out o! a Samarian walled city, named Sychar :nowadays, #s*ar;' (hey obser"e the dialogue !rom a!ar, in silence' Showily, the e9 ression o! their !aces loo*s annoyed' Be!ore getting aware that their %aster is more or other than a $ ro het& come to lead and !ree his own eo le, they ha"e a long way to go !urther' .nly then, they will grow able to ractise his !ull lesson' Two on the Road to Jericho (o a great e9tent, the e"angelical narration is set in o en air' -ot seldom, literally it de"elo s on the road' Let us recall the story o! the Clight into 7gy t, in %atthew,s )os el, which ins ired so many landsca ists in the history o! ainting' >et here we would li*e to !ocus on the arable o! the )ood Samaritan, also *nown as $(he )ood -eighbour&, and on the e isode beginning on the road to 7mmaus, both in the )os el o! Lu*e :1@+3A21D and 30+1121A? c!' %ar*, 1<+13211;' Precisely, in the latter case we ha"e two distinct moments? only one is in o en air' #t !irst, two Jesus, disci les are wal*ing in the direction o! 7mmaus, a "illage se"en miles or more !rom Jerusalem' We are in!ormed o! the name o! one o! them, Eleo as' By com aring ancient sources, scholars and hilologists made "arious hy otheses about the other+ Lu*e himsel!, James the Just, Simon Peter''' But really do we thin* an e"angelist, and a writer as St' Lu*e, did not name him !or any carelessness or !orget!ulnessF


0 – Rembrandt, The Good Samaritan 1<1@, (he Wallace Collection, London %ore robably the )ree* hysician and St' Paul,s collaborator, a su osed !riend and

legendary ortrayer o! the %adonna, le!t that blan* s ace, because we get !ree to !ill it with our own names or with the scri tural characters we deem more ertinent' #s to Eleo as, we !ind this name once more only in John,s )os el :1G+3A;, but in the "ariant $Elo as&, so that we cannot be sure he is the same erson' .! course per absurdum, among the s eci!ic characters o! Lu*e,s )os el, then we might e"en imagine the two !ellows were none but those in the arable o! the )ood Samaritan' #!ter all, ancient later traditions tell not !ew Samaritans and Eleo as himsel! inhabited 7mmaus' (he roads !rom Jericho to Jerusalem, and !rom there to 7mmaus, ran with no real solution o! continuity' (hough i! wal*ed in di!!erent times and circumstances, they could result one way' # long one !rom a sel!ish erce tion o! identity, through the dangers o! alienness, toward an o en !eeling o! alterity' %ost li*ely, Lu*e himsel! was an early $gentile& Christian+ nearly as the Samaritans, a stranger and an in!idel in the eyes o! the Jews' -o wonder, such a theme, we !ind in John,s )os el too – in the !igure o! a good Samaritan woman+ see here abo"e –, had to be one o!

his !a"oured grounds o! re!lection' #lso later, the relation between otherness and alienness will be well resent in the Christian doctrine' 4n To Consentius, Against Lying, a writing by #urelius #ugustine, the most !amous Latin Church Cather, that grows a roblematic uo argument+ Dominus alienigenam Samaritanum proximum eius ostendit, cum

misericordiam fecit! Proximus ergo habendus est, non alienus, cum uo id agendum est, ne remaneat alienus :$(he Lord showed the alien Samaritan to be neighbour to him unto whom he showed mercy' # neighbour then, and not an alien, is that man to be accounted, with whom our concern is that he remain not an alien&;' >et, e9actly, how can it be doneF

A – Claude Lorrain, The Wal" to #mmaus, Christie,s )allery, London -o doubt, !or #ugustine the main way is a con"ersion o! the $alien& sub/ect – or his recon"ersion – to Christianity' But this sounds a bit di!!erent !rom the conclusion o! original Jesus, arable, which now we had better going to read again+ $# man was going down !rom Jerusalem to Jericho, when he !ell into the hands o! robbers' (hey stri ed him o! his ened clothes, beat him and went away, lea"ing him hal! dead with no clothes' # riest ha

to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he assed by on the other side' So too, a Le"ite, when he came to the lace and saw him, assed by on the other side' But a Samaritan, as he tra"elled, came where the man was? and when he saw him, he too* ity on

him' Be went to him and bandaged his wounds, ouring on oil and wine' (hen he ut the man on his own don*ey, too* him to an inn and too* care o! him' (he ne9t day he too* out two sil"er coins and ga"e them to the inn*ee er' HLoo* a!ter him,, he said, Hand when 4 return, 4 will reimburse you !or any e9tra e9 ense you may ha"e', $Which o! these three do you thin* was a neighbour to the man who !ell into the hands o! robbersF& (he e9 ert in the law re lied, $(he one who had mercy on him'& Jesus told him, $)o and do li*ewise&' Let us notice, this $doing li*ewise& is set as a riority, e"en with regard to any ossible and desirable con"ersion' #ctually, in the arable con"entional religious !igures as the riest and the Le"ite seem $aliener& not sim ly than the Samaritan, but than the robbers themsel"es' .b"iously they were not, could not be, yet Christian' >et e"en an im ossible or im robable con"ersion o! them to Christianity would ha"e made not sense, at least till they did not !ell into the conce t o! $-eighbour&' 4nward as well as outward any Church to come, thus becoming neighbour results a condicio sine ua non' 4! the ba tism will be the gate, we dare say, that is the door' Jesus was e9tensi"ely clear about, since with his arable he answered not only the well *nown Iuestion $Who is my neighbourF&, but also a re"ious one ut by the same $e9 ert in the law&+ $(eacher, what must 4 do to inherit eternal li!eF&

< – #rnold BJc*lin, The Wal" to #mmaus, Schac*2)alerie, %unich Three on the Road to Emmaus

-ot seldom, themes as the Samaritan Woman at the Well and the )ood Samaritan were inserted by the landsca ists, within their wor*s' >et they better rendered the atmos here o! the !irst art o! the e isode, which we are going to deal with' Cor instance, the )erman Johann EJnig, the 5utch )illis d,Bondecoeter, the Crench Claude Lorrain, in the 1Dth century? the )erman Crit6 "on =hde, the Swiss Robert Kund and #rnold BJc*lin, in the 1Gth century' =sually, the characters o! the ilgrims are ro/ected into a country scenery' #cross this, their mobile !igures grow small at sight, as i! going to merge into it' Sometimes, urban details a ear somewhere in the bac*ground or in the !oreground' %ostly, these are ruins or im ending !ortresses' Li*e the Boly Camily during the $Clight into 7gy t&, what they ha"e le!t behind is a !alse ci"ili6ed world, which has !iercely ersecuted or sorrow!ully disillusioned them' Cor a while at least, they ha"e dro ed out o! history, into the nature' Sad and con!used a!ter their %aster,s murder, two disci les are wal*ing to 7mmaus' #ll o! a sudden, a third one reaches them, starting to tal* with them' Probably it is an e"ening, casting long shades around' (hey cannot discern well his !ace' Bis entire !igure is indistinct' So, they do not *now him, or are unable to belie"e he is who he seems to be, e"en when they hear his "oice' -othing better than this modern "erse !rom the oem The Waste Land, by (homas S' 7liot, renders a sus ense o! the while be!ore they can listen to that sound, and be reassured by its words+ $Who is the third who wal*s always beside youFL When 4 count, there are only you and 4 togetherL But when 4 loo* ahead, u the white roadL (here is always another one wal*ing beside you,L )liding wra t in a brown mantle, hoodedL 4 do not *now whether a man or a womanL – But who is that on the other side o! youF&


D – (he Cara"aggio, Supper at #mmaus, -ational )allery, London Be who s ea*s here is the sel! o! one o! the two !ellows' Be is s ea*ing to the other, since each o! them is already another,s other' 4n this case, along the way we ha"e not the alienness o! indi!!erent tra"ellers or the alienity o! robbers, but the alleged one o! a whole world behind and around them' >et again, !rom behind or ahead, an alien occurs and ma*es himsel! a neighbour beside them' Probably he has been always there, somewhere close to them' (hey did not reali6e well his resence, so absorbed in and tal*ing about their worries' Perha s, still now they are a bit sus icious !or the alienness o! the new un*nown !ellow tra"eller' (hey need more time, to !ully reali6e that this alien is not sim ly a third erson' 4ndeed, he is a s ecial *ind o! other, a good neighbour and the absolutely other at once' Be e9 lains the !ul!ilment o! old biblical ro hecies, and e9horts them to be trust!ul' 4n the meantime, the night !alls and !inally they arri"e to 7mmaus' (he two !ellows in"ite him, whom they now consider a !oreigner, to ta*e su er with them and to rest below the same roo!' #t the beginning o! their meal, the $!oreigner& blesses the bread, brea*s and gi"es them it with his hands, while a lam lightens his !ace' #t that "ery moment, they can recogni6e he is the resurrected Christ' Soon a!ter, he disa ears out o! their sight' We may er, notoriously the wonder why that ha ens at the brea*ing o! bread' #s in the Last Su

gesture is ty ical o! the 7ucharist' -ot by chance, this sacrament is called Communion too'


We might also guess, it re resents the con"ersion o! alienness into otherness, o! the alienity o! this world into a ro9imity to others, whose Jesus the Christ is the !irst, main e9am le'

M – (he Cara"aggio, Supper at #mmaus, PinacoteIue o! Brera, %ilan How Many, at that Table? Crom the "iew oint o! a religious ainter, the latest scene is a !urther in"iting sub/ect' #ctually, it is one o! the most dramatic scenes de icted throughout the history o! art' With a lay on words, we may a!!irm, the re resentations o! the Su er at 7mmaus by the Cara"aggio or Rembrandt are absolute master ieces' 4n !act, in no better circumstances than those, an e!!ort to re resent the $#bsolutely .ther& is reIuired' 4n such a deed, !ew genial or ins ired artists were able to success' >et more lac*ing' 4n the o ular, and im ressi"e ones, are not er could !orm one narrati"e ast, the three on the road and their su

seIuence, with the !ormer scene in !oreground and the latter in the rear or sidewise' (his is the case o! a Carolingian i"ory laIue car"ed in M<@–MM@, today in the %etro olitan %useum o! #rt at -ew >or*? o! the aintings by the Venetian La66aro Bastiani or the Clemish Pieter Coec*e "an #elst? o! se"eral Bible illustrations rinted in the 1<th century' %ichelangelo %erisi, the 4talian ainter !rom Cara"aggio, de icted the Supper at

#mmaus twice, res ecti"ely in 1<@1 and 1<@<' (he !ormer is currently in the -ational )allery at London' (here, an unusual detail is the !igure o! a beardless Jesus' (he three are sitting around a laid table' Reliably a host or a waiter, a !orth character is standing by them, obser"ing er le9ed the scene' (he intensity o! the emotions is rendered mainly through the e9 ression and gestures o! the disci les, while the %aster consecrates the bread, so that they begin to $o en their eyes&' We can watch him !rontally, nearly in the centre, but cannot meet his stare because he is loo*ing down at the bread, absorbed in the holy mystery' 4n the latter "ersion, housed in the Pinacoteca di Brera at %ilan, there are !ew di!!erences+ Jesus is now bearded? a !i!th character is a standing, old !emale ser"ant' #bo"e all, there are no longer shadows cast on the bac*ground wall' 4t is com letely dar*' 4n a "ery Cara"aggian manner, any true light is a conIuest and a grace, dee inside our unconscious dimension'

G – Rembrandt, The Pilgrims at #mmaus, %us8e du Lou"re, Paris %oreo"er, as one can see, the resence o! minor characters is not accessory' (hey might be each o! us' (heir indiscreet curiosity dri"es their attention to artici ate in an intimacy o! the e"ent, so that they can start wondering about the mystery they ha"e attended, /ust $by chance&' 4n the Supper at #mmaus, by Rembrandt B' "an Ri/n :1<0M? %us8e du Lou"re, Paris;, Jesus, ga6e is turned to hea"en while he brea*s the bread' Bis

head is haloed with light' (he waiter is a young man, almost a boy' Be loo*s *inder than the rustic characters by the Cara"aggio' (his whole com osition seems a bit more traditional' But the resence o! the youth could ha"e been a signal or a good wish, !or a then adolescent modernity' #s to Jesus de icted by Rembrandt, in a letter addressed to Nmile Bernard and dated 31 July 1MMM, Vincent "an )ogh will write+ $79ce tionally, he ainted !igures o! Christ' OPQ >et that strange Christ came about !or he *new him, !elt that he was there&' 4ndeed, our theme was recurring in the roduction by the 5utch ainter' 4n Pilgrims at #mmaus :1<03F? %us8e du Lou"re, Paris;, the characters de icted are a arently !our' .n the e9treme right o! the room, one o! them is seated in the rear and in the dar*' Bis !igure is so indistinct, as to seem a remote, surreal re!lection o! the Christ himsel!' Be is the same now? yet he is the other too+ an absolute other' (hrough an o en window on the le!t, a late sunset or !ull moon light illuminates the dim scene' Bere the Sa"iour is loo*ing at us, out o! the icture' Bis hands hold a bread !ast on the table, as i! he is e9 ecting we ossibly recogni6e him, be!ore brea*ing and sharing it' #nother ainting with the same title :1<3M2 1<3G? %us8e JacIuemart2#ndr8, Paris; is not less disconcerting' # disci le is already *neeling down to the %aster' Bis com anion is still !acing him' We cannot see Jesus, !ace' .n that o! the latter disci le, what we can read is a seIuence o! doubt, o! !ear and ho e'

1@ – Rembrandt, Pilgrims at #mmaus, %us8e JacIuemart2#ndr8, Paris

The Absolute Artist 4! we consider his late roduction at least, the Crench 7ugRne 5elacroi9 was one o! the cle"erest religious ainters o! the 1Gth century' (his is a "ery modern contradiction, he had the re utation o! being a romantic artist and a sce tic thin*er at once' .ne o! his best and latest wor*s is the small icture Le bon Samaritain :1MA3? ri"ate collection;' We !eel res ect!ul and unable to deci her the enigmas o! human souls' >et, with s ecial regard to his artistic career, meta horically the author had the !ortune to wal* the road to Jericho' Presumably, he was not so luc*y or atient as to co"er all the way bac*, as !ar as 7mmaus' What con!irms though, a theme or a sub/ect li*e that owns not sim ly a strict sacred "alue' 4ts im lications maintain a moral a eal, also in a laic or secular, social and olitical ambit' (he oil by 5elacroi9 ortrays the moment when the Samaritan hoists the man he has succoured, onto his own mount' (hrough the image, almost we can share the hysical e!!ort and agitation o! that gesture' We may e"en ercei"e its re resentation as the e9 ression o! an inmost trouble, by which reason and !aith stri"e to be reconciled' Se"eral years later, the 5utch artist Van )ogh will return not only on the same sub/ect, but on the same icture too' -early an artwor* in rogress' 4n his Le bon Samaritain, d$apr%s Delacroix :1MG@? ErJller2 %Sller %useum, .tterlo;, the ictorial style is ob"iously changed' # di!!erence is a detail on the le!t in the new com osition, which is reco"ered !rom the medie"al iconogra hy' 4t is a !oreshortening o! the road to Jericho' 4n the distance, there we can still discern a little riest and a Le"ite while going away' Long be!ore 5elacroi9, a!ter St' Lu*e, the message is a trans arent denunciation o! anything un!eeling and hy ocritical in this same old world'


11 – 7ugRne 5elacroi9, The Good Samaritan, ri"ate collection #ctually, the re!lection on Lu*e,s te9t remained constant' 4n Van )ogh,s corres ondence, he is mentioned more than once, as well as 5elacroi9 and Rembrandt' (he best contem orary religious ainting grew the !ruit o! an intense collecti"e elaboration, not only artistic but thought!ul too' $(hese thoughts,& the unluc*y ainter wrote in a letter dated 31 June 1MMM, $Bernard dear !riend, lead us !ar, "ery !ar, a!ield? they raise us abo"e art itsel!' (hey gi"e us a glim se o! the art o! li!e2creation, the art o! being immortal and ali"e' (hey are bound u with ainting' (he atron saint o! ainters – Lu*e, hysician, ainter, e"angelist – OPQ gi"es us ho e&' >et a ma/or !igure stands out o! the bac*ground' 4n the same letter, we can read+ $(his great artist – Christ –, although he did not concern himsel! with writing boo*s, !elt considerably less disdain !or the s o*en word, and !or arables in articular&' 7"idently that o! the )ood Samaritan was, /ust to say so, in the !oreground' #t last, let us return to St' #ugustine,s e9egesis' #!ter re"ious Church Cathers, he indi"iduated in the Samaritan an allegory o! the Sa"iour+ $7"en )od himsel!, our Lord, desired to be called our neighbour' Cor our Lord Jesus the Christ oints to himsel! under the

!igure o! the man who brought aid to him who was lying hal! dead on the road, wounded and abandoned by the robbers& :&n Christian Doctrine+ 4,11;' 4n his Sermons :111,<;, conseIuently the e9egete identi!ies the man succoured by the Samaritan with the whole man*ind' Be also notes, the $oil and wine& oured by the Samaritan may own a sacramental symbolism' Certainly this inter retation is artial, e"en Iuestionable, when the reacher com ares with the Church the inn where that man was sheltered and healed – on ayment' #nyhow, it attests an old ro ensity to see the .ther and an $#bsolute .ther&, /oined in the !igure o! the Samaritan' .nce more, Jericho is an ineludible starting oint toward 7mmaus'

13 – Vincent Van )ogh, The Good Samaritan, ErJller2%Sller %useum, .tterlo Copyri ht pinoblasone!yahoo"com #$$% #rticles by the same author on similar sub/ects, at the Websites below+ htt +LLwww'scribd'comLdocL3A11G0@LS ace2and2(ime2o!2the2#nnunciation htt +LLwww'scribd'comLdocL3<M10<<L(he2Cat2and2the2#ngel2o!2the2#nnunciation

htt +LLwww'scribd'comLdocL3G111DAL(he2Bands2o!2%ary2States2o!2%ind2in2the2 #nnunciate htt +LLwww'scribd'comLdocL3GMM1MDLBail2%ary2-a6arene2and2PreRa haelite2 #nnunciations htt +LLwww'scribd'comLdocL1M1D11@LWomen2and2#ngels2Cemale2#nnunciations htt +LLwww'scribd'comLdocL0AGD3<DLBy6antine2#nnunciations2#n24conogra hy2o!2 4conogra hy htt +LLwww'scribd'comLdocLAM1DG00L%arian24cons2in2Rome2and24taly htt +LLwww'scribd'comLdocLM<A@1M1L(he2Clight2into27gy t2#2(ranscontinental2(ri


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