I thought I had nailed the reason for Luke’s choice of Emmaus (Luke 24:23-35) as the destination of the two disciples after the crucifixion when I posted on The Origin and Meaning of the Emmaus Road Narrative in Luke. That explanation hinged on Codex Bezae containing the original word, Oulammaus, and that led to the link with the place where God appeared to Jacob when he was traveling away from his home.
But now there is another possible explanation for the choice of the placename that I have come across in Classics and the Bible by John Taylor.
Firstly, he suggests the location in Luke 24:13 is “strongly probably” to be identified with the place of that name in 1 Maccabees 3:40 and Josephus in Jewish War 2.71. This places the town 160 stades distant from Jerusalem rather than the 60 in most manuscripts, though some manuscripts do say 160.
It is however much more likely that Luke intends a symbolic point than that he is preoccupied with the minutiae of geography of that there were two places of the same name.
Below I have summarized the conclusions of the far more detailed discussion of the Emmaus road narrative. It offers an explanation for some of the problems with this narrative by seeing it in the context of the art of popular story telling. Having lost appreciation for this context of the original gospel, subsequent literal and historical approaches have failed to understand the nature and intent of the episode. And it has been this far “too serious” approach that has raised the interpretative and textual problems. Those problems largely disappear when the ending is read as being constructed with the tools of ancient popular fiction. Continue reading “The Emmaus narrative and the techniques of popular story-telling”
The Emmaus Road narrative in Luke 24 raises many questions. Why is the hitherto unknown Cleopas one of those who appears to be the first to meet the resurrected Jesus? Who is his unnamed companion? Why does the narrative conclude with a statement that Jesus has appeared to Simon when no such appearance is described? Is this really a reference to Simon Peter or some other Simon? Do the two travellers tell the eleven apostles about the appearance to Simon or is it the eleven apostles who are telling the two travellers that Jesus has appeared to Simon?
The account is found in Luke 24:13-35.
The best explanation I can think of is based principally on the problems faced by an author wanting to introduce relatively late in the life of the church a brand new narrative involving a central character. This leads to an look at the logic of the narrative of the gospel and an attempt to understand its structure through the standards of popular story-telling of the day, as well as in the context of similar well-known Jewish stories. It also considers the possibilities that the text found in an alternative manuscript, the Codex Bezae, contains some elements of the original story. Continue reading “The origin and meaning of the Emmaus Road narrative in Luke”