3. Could Emmaus mentioned by Flavius Josephus at the distance of 30 stadia (about
6 km, 3,5 miles) from Jerusalem, be the New Testament Emmaus?
This question concerns the following text from "Jewish war", 7, 6, 6 (telling events of 72 A.D.):
“About the same time it was
that Caesar sent a letter to Bassus, and to Liberius Maximus, who was the
procurator [of Judea], and gave order that all Judea should be exposed to sale
for he did not found any city there, but reserved the country for himself. However,
he assigned a place for eight hundred men only, whom he had dismissed from his
army, which he gave them for their habitation; it is called Emmaus (Άμμαους,
Amassa, Amassada), and is distant from Jerusalem
threescore furlongs. He also laid a tribute upon the Jews where so ever they
were, and enjoined every one of them to bring two drachmae every year into the
Capitol, as they used to pay the same to the temple at Jerusalem. And this was the state of the
Jewish affairs at this time.”
"Jewish war" came to us in manuscripts written in Greek and Latin. The oldest surviving Greek manuscripts of Flavius Josephus only go back to the times of the crusades and incorrectly render the names of many places in Palestine. These manuscripts were written by Christian scribes, which also explains that the version of 60 stadia appearing in some manuscripts of "The Jewish War" 7, 6, 6, are no doubt due to the influence of the Gospel of Luke. For the same reason, apparently, the name "Ha-Motza" was rendered by them as "Emmaus". In the more ancient, Latin manuscripts, "Ha-Motza" is rendered as "Amassa", "Amassada". It should be noted that neither Jewish nor Roman-Byzantine or Arab sources have ever called Ha-Motza Emmaus. Thus, on the basis of only the Greek manuscripts of "The Jewish war" 7, 6, 6 one cannot conclude that at the beginning of our era Ha-Motza bore the name of "Emmaus", i.e. in the area of Jerusalem, there existed another Emmaus except that which was 160 stadia away from Jerusalem, which, in its turn, is mentioned about 10 times in the books of Flavius Josephus. In the Byzantine period Ha-Motza was not venerated as a place associated with the resurrection of Jesus, nor as a Holy Place at all. Perhaps the connection between the village of Ha-Motza and the story of Emmaus in the Gospel of Luke 24: 13-35 was established shortly before the Crusades. The first mention of Emmaus, 30 stadia away, appears in the text of John Mauropous, the Bishop of Euchaites, written in 1050, and belonging to approximately the same era as the Greek manuscripts of Flavius Josephus:
"As to the words ‘the village, which was from Jerusalem about sixty
stadia’, some extend far this distance, while others only reduce it to thirty
stadia, arguing that this is the distance between Emmaus and Jerusalem ...
"(Vincent & Abel, "Emmaüs", Paris, 1932, p.419). (It should
be noted that Bishop John does not testify to the fact that at his time there
actually existed a village called Emmaus at a distance of 30 stadia from Jerusalem, he only refers
to the opinion which was placing it there).
E. Le Camus, "La Bible et les études topographiques en Palestine", RB 1892, pp.100-112, P. Benoit, "Passion et Résurrection du Seigneur", Paris, 1969, p.309 and Carsten Thiede, "The Emmaus Mystery", London, 2005, consider Ha-Motza to be the New Testament Emmaus.