Scholars most often interpret the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37), one of the best-known passages in the New Testament, in the context of inter-group hostility between Jews and Samaritans. Drawing on recent work on Samaritans in Jewish studies and Samaritan studies, I argue that there is little reason to continue framing the parable in terms of polarized Samaritan ethnic or religious alterity. Ancient texts contemporaneous with Luke-Acts often include Samaritans within Israel without marginalization or classification as absolute non-Jewish “Others.” The emphasis on absolute difference emerges, rather, from a scholarly habit of both racialized and polemicized readings of the text. In contrast, I suggest an alternative reading: the Samaritan is better read, along with priests and Levites, as a limit concept to regulate the proper behavior of those included within a programmatic restored “Israel.”

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