4. Why is Emmaus described as "kome", a village, in the Gospel of Luke, while Emmaus (Nicopolis) is known from Flavius Josephus as a regional centre (toparchy)?

Emmaus had acquired the status of a regional centre (centre of the toparchy) under Antipater and Hyrcanus II in 47 BC, and appears as such in the list of toparchies given by Flavius Josephus in Jewish War, 3, 3, 5, along with Lydda and several other settlements. However, in all of Judea, only Jerusalem had the status of a city (polis). The centres of the toparchies did not possess this status since they were big villages. Flavius Josephus himself refers to Lydda as kome, a village, in Antiquities of the Jews 20, 6, 2. When Flavius Josephus lists the villages of Palestine as cities, it should be attributed to the characteristics of his style influenced by Jewish language and local traditions. It is also important to note that in the 1st c. AD (the period of the events described in the Gospel of Luke) Emmaus’ former glory had already been lost due to the sale of its population into slavery in 43 BC (see: Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 14, 11, 2), and the fire set to Emmaus by Romans in 4 BC (see: Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 17, 10, 7-9). This led to the decline of Emmaus and its attribution to the toparchy of Thamna in 66 AD (see: Flavius Josephus, Jewish war 2, 20, 4).

On this issue see here: Vincent & Abel, Emmaüs, Paris, 1932, p. 291-292, 311-312; for the contrary view, see: W. Zwickel, Emmaus: ein neue Versuch, Biblische Notizen, Heft 74, Münich, 1994, p. 33-36. See also: The Hasmonean period and The Early Roman period.

Flavius Josephus' supposed portrait