2. Why is it written in the Bible that Emmaus "was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs" (i.e. 60 stadia, ca. 12 km, 7 miles), while Emmaus-Nicopolis is situated 160 stadia away from Jerusalem (ca. 30 km, 19 miles)?



 The fact that since ancient times, Nicopolis has been venerated by Christians as the New Testament Emmaus, is confirmed by ancient high quality manuscripts of the Gospel of Luke, which bear the distance of about one hundred and sixty stadia (30 km) between Emmaus and Jerusalem: the uncial (majuscule script) manuscript א (Sinaiticus codex), Θ, Ν, Κ, Π, 079 and minuscule manuscripts 157, 265, 1079, 1604, 1219, 1223, as well as ancient translations into Latin (some manuscripts of the Vetus Latina, the high quality manuscripts of the Vulgate), Aramaic (Palestinian Evangeliarium) and Armenian languages.  

 


Codex Sinaiticus, the Gospel of Luke, ch. 23-24

  Most extinct ancient manuscripts of the Gospel of Luke bear the distance of sixty stadia (12 km) between Jerusalem and Emmaus, and that’s why Bibles printed today adopted this particular version. However, the quantity of manuscripts cannot be a decisive argument in this question. One of the principles of a critical study of the ancient texts is to take the more difficult version of the text as authentic. In our case, it may be assumed that some copyists of the Gospel eliminated the word "hundred" to facilitate the understanding of the story: Cleopas and his companion have done their way from Jerusalem to Emmaus and having recognized the risen Jesus in the breaking of bread, return to Jerusalem. It is easier to imagine that they covered 24, rather than 60 km in a single day, all the more so that on the return journey, they had to walk up the mountain! Although the Gospel of Luke itself does not affirm that they have done the entire way back on the same day, by comparing with the Gospel of John 20:19-23, one can deduce that the disciples returned to Jerusalem on the same day, prior to the first apparition of Jesus Christ to the group of the Apostles, on the evening of Easter Day. Reducing the distance to 60 stadia (12 km), the copyists of the Gospel of Luke, thus strived to create a correspondence between the two Gospels. Evidence that there was indeed a tendency to impose the reading of "60 stadia," is that in two of the uncial and in three of the minuscule manuscripts (listed above), which bear the distance of 160 stadia, the word "hundred" was scraped in order to remove it.

  



The same is true for the Vulgate (the Latin translation of the Bible by St. Jerome, done in 4-5 cent. A.D). From the works of Jerome we know that he, like other Church Fathers, considered Emmaus-Nicopolis to be the New Testament Emmaus (see: the Byzantine period). We can thus be sure that Jerome inserted the version of 160 stadia in his translation of the Gospel of Luke, as it appears in the best and most ancient manuscripts of the Vulgate: F, O *, Y, EP, G. By the scribes’ efforts, however, most of the extant manuscripts of the Vulgate bear the version of 60 stadia.

St. Jerome


 One can note that the version of 60 stadia is contrary to the ancient Jewish tradition, which knows only one village called Emmaus in the vicinity of Jerusalem (by the Ayalon Valley, about 30 km from Jerusalem). This version also contradicts the testimony of the Church Fathers, Eusebius of Caesarea, St. Jerome, and other authors from the Byzantine period, who identify the New Testament Emmaus with Emmaus-Nicopolis, and also the ancient tradition of the Christian pilgrimage to Emmaus-Nicopolis (see: the Roman and Byzantine periods).

Questions 1 2 3 4 5 6 7