Sunday, April 9, 2023

On the road to Emmaus:

Philip Jenkins:
The story, from Luke 24.13-35, is well known. Two disciples are walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Jesus approaches and talks to them, explaining the scriptural basis of all that had happened, culminating in the Crucifixion. They invite him to their home, and at the breaking of bread, they suddenly recognize him; and then he disappears. Then, they asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” A variant or summary story appears in Mark 16.12-13, but virtually certainly, that derives from Luke’s account. ....

The story tells of two people walking along, and then inviting a stranger to come back to the house where they live, and giving him a meal. In the context of the time, is it not very, very likely, to the point of certainty, that such a pair would in fact be a man and a woman, a married couple, who live in their house at Emmaus? ....

The passage offers some idea about who the disciples were. One of them was called Cleopas, the other is anonymous. There is no hint about the gender of “anonymous,” but the passage follows from a paragraph about the women who gathered at the tomb, and a generic description of the disciples. Many through the years have suggested that Cleopas is identical with one Clopas, who appears in the gospels in an interesting context. In John 19.25, we hear about those gathered at the cross during the crucifixion, namely “his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene” (NIV). Do note that the punctuation here is totally a matter of opinion, as there is no punctuation in the original manuscripts, and we don’t know whether “his mother’s sister” was different from Mary, .... But here is a real possibility. Perhaps the two going to Emmaus were Cleopas/Clopas and his wife, Mary, who was a sister to Jesus’s mother. They were in fact his uncle and aunt, which for the purposes of the story, adds to the mystery of why they did not recognize him. Is that the only possible reading? Not at all. But it is likely. .... (more)
Philip Jenkins, "Emmaus: Whether a Man or a Woman?" Anxious Bench, April 6, 2023.

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