Biblical Archaeology Review 34:2, March/April 2008

Emmaus: Where Christ Appeared

Many sites vie for the honor, but Emmaus-Nicopolis is the leading contender

By Hershel Shanks

AT DAWN THE TOMB OF JESUS WAS FOUND EMPTY. Later that very day two of the disciples, Cleopas and another unnamed, were walking on the road to Emmaus when Jesus appeared to them, but they did not recognize him. As they drew near Emmaus, Jesus went to go on, but they pressed him to stay with them, saying, “It is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” At dinner, Jesus blessed the bread and gave it to them and “their eyes were opened and they recognized him.” All this occurred at a place called Emmaus. That same hour they returned to Jerusalem, where they told the others what had happened. And he appeared to them again! Jesus ate some fish that they gave to him, showing that he had been resurrected bodily. Then he led them out to Bethany on the Mount of Olives, where he blessed them and “was carried up into heaven” (see Luke 24:13–53).

This episode from the Gospel of Luke contains the only mention of Emmaus in the entire New Testament. But Jesus’ appearance to his disciples on the road to Emmaus and at dinner is one of only five post-Resurrection appearances recorded in the Gospels.

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