In his 13th book of the Commentary on John, Origen deals with the encounter of Jesus and the Samaritan woman
at Jacob’s well (Jn 4). Origen was requested by Ambrose to rebut Heracleon’s commentary
on John. Heracleon argued that people remain for their lifetime on the same
level of knowledge and areincapable of gaining further knowledge.Origen interprets the Samaritan woman as an image for the
thoughts of the heretics studying Scripture, and the water from the well as Scripture.
The living water that Jesus is able to give represents Jesus’ teaching, which
leads to a higher and eternal life.The Samaritan woman first misunderstands the biblical texts. After asking Jesus for the living water, she receives some, which in Origen’s interpretation is salutary teaching. Thus, the woman no longer needs to come to the fountain. In fact, she now contemplates the truth as the angels do. The Samaritan woman leaves her vessel, which in Origen’ interpretation represents wrong teaching, at the fountain, and goes into the town in order to tell the people about Jesus. By doing this, she gives them the opportunity to leave the town (i.e. wrong teachings) and receive salvific teaching.