Emmaus (Luke 24)

Illustration: The Emmaus road

The problem of uncertainty over the location of Emmaus is compounded by a textual difficulty in Luke 24:13 that reads “60 stadia” in some manuscripts but “160 stadia” in others (a stadium was 625 Roma feet, of about 190 m). Thus, 60 stadia was about 12 km, while 160 stadia was roughly 29,7 km. The reading of “60 stadia” in verse 13 is almost certainly correct and is the rendering adopted by all modern versions. Patristic readers (church fathers), however, preferred “160 stadia” and located Emmaus at Emmaus-Nicopolis (modern Khibret Imwas), about 32 kom west of Jerusalem. But Luke 24 indicates that the disciples walked with Jesus from Jerusalem to Emmaus, had a midday meal and then returned to Jerusalem that same afternoon. If Emmasus were Emmaus-Nicopolis, this would have been a 64,5 km trek within a single day!

Adopting the figure of 60 stadia, a good candidate for the location of Emmaus is el-Qubeibeh, located about 1,3 km northwest of Jerusalem. The crusaders favoured this site, and the remains of a first century village have been excavated there. There is no scholarly consensus, however, and the actual location of Emmaus remains open to question.

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