Covering over a thousand years of history (from the Assyrian exile in the eighth century BCE to late Roman times), this book makes an important contribution to the fields of Jewish studies, biblical studies, ancient Near Eastern studies, Samaritan Studies, and early Christian history by challenging the oppositional paradigm that has traditionally characterized the historical relations between Jews and Samaritans. The approach is multi-disciplinary, engaging exciting new discoveries in archaeology, such as the site surveys of ancient Samaria and the major excavations at the holy site of Mt. Gerizim in central Israel; new discoveries in epigraphy, such as the publication of the Samaria papyri dating to the late-Persian period (375-335 BCE), the publication of hundreds of late-Persian period Samarian coins, and the publication of hundreds of fragmentary Mt. Gerizim inscriptions (dating mostly to the late-third and early-second centuries BCE); as well as new discoveries in biblical studies, such as the diverse collection of Pentateuchal manuscripts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Only by recognizing the close ties that developed between Samaria and Judah during the much of the first millennium BCE can one explain how the two communities became so similar in belief and practice, even sharing a common set of foundational scriptures (the Pentateuch). Paradoxically, accounting for how two such similar groups as the Samaritans and Jews became alienated from one another during the Maccabean and Roman periods involves explaining how the two were so closely related in the first place. The solution to this puzzle is to be found in earlier Israelite history.