6. Why do they say, Emmaus-Nicopolis was mistakenly identified as Emmaus of Luke by Origen, Eusebius of Caesarea and St. Jerome following him in his error?

In the medieval minuscule manuscript № 194 of the Gospel of Luke, which has the version of 60 stadia, there is the following note on the page border opposite verse 13 of the 24th chapter, in Greek:

“One should read ‘one hundred and sixty’, because this is what is in the exact texts, and in the confirmation of the truth by Origen”.

See the original text here, the translation is ours.

The minuscule manuscript № 34 has the same note, but without the name of Origen.

Because of this note, some authors (M.-J. Lagrange, Commentaire de l'Evangile de Luc, Paris, 1921, p. 617; Meistermann, Guide de la Terre Sainte, 1923, p.14) have attributed this correction of Luke 24:13 ( the presumed addition of the word hekaton, “One hundred”) to Origen, who lived in the Holy Land during the early 3d century A.D. They suggest that he did so because of a local Palestinian tradition that considered Nicopolis to be the Gospel’s Emmaus. This hypothesis, however, does not explain the origin of this tradition, nor the perseverance with which the Christians of the Holy Land had followed it since ancient times (already since early 3d century AD!).

Origen of Alexandria

On the other hand, Origen’s commentary on the Gospel of Luke, which could have resolved the issue, is lost, and an anonymous note on the page border of manuscript № 194 is not sufficient evidence to attribute to Origen the introduction of a correction to the Gospel text. It should be noted also that this hypothesis was put forward at the time when all the manuscripts containing 160 stadia were considered to be of Palestinian origin. Today, there is another approach to the classification of manuscripts, and it is obvious that the variant of 160 stadia comes from various geographical areas ( see: Bruce M. Metzger, The text of the New Testament, NY-Oxford, 2005, pp. 62-84, 305-313, about the manuscripts: א, K, N, Θ, П, having the variant of 160 stadia).

Even assuming that the original version of the Gospel has the distance of 60 stadia, and that the version of 160 is a later correction, there is no reason to believe that a village called Emmaus really existed 60 stadia away from Jerusalem in the 1st c. AD.

The variant of 60 stadia could be simply a mistake. For example, in Luke 17:11 it is said that while going to Jerusalem, Jesus passed through Samaria and Galilee (one should have said: through Galilee and Samaria), and Luke 5:19 mentions a tiled roof, even though there were no such roofs in Jewish houses of Palestine. Compare, for example, the fact that all known manuscripts of the 2nd Book of Maccabees (12:9) erroneously indicate the distance of 240 stadia (about 30 miles, 48 km) between Jerusalem and the port of Jamnia (Yavne), while in reality it equals approximately 340 stadia (42 miles, ca. 68 km).

The most important Holy places in Palestine have been venerated by the local Christians since the Roman times. Identified by Eusebius during the late 3d - early 4th century (see: T. D. Barnes, The Composition of Eusebius' Onomasticon, JThS 26 (1975), p.412-415; Greville Freeman-Grenville, Foreword to The Onomasticon, published by “Carta”, Jerusalem, 2003) and possibly already at the beginning of the 3d century by Origen, Emmaus-Nicopolis is one of the most ancient Christian traditions of the Holy Land. We do not have sufficient grounds to question that tradition, especially when considering that Eusebius and Origen were among the most erudite scholars of their time. Their identification of Emmaus corresponds also to the Jewish tradition, which does not know any other Emmaus in the area of Jerusalem but that of the Ayalon Valley.