April 16, 2017

Article at Authory

A Careful History of the Resurrection

Small Details of Scripture (Easter Edition): I was working on a blog post for Easter last week—it should run this coming week—on the story of the disciples meeting the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus. In reading through Luke 24, in which the Emmaus road story appears, I noticed something interesting.

St. Luke, in his report of the women finding the empty tomb, stated, "While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel" (24:4). St. Luke called the two mysterious beings "men." But look at how the Emmaus-bound disciples described the scene to Jesus (who they didn't yet recognize to be Jesus):

Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive (24:22–23).

Suddenly we have "a vision of angels." Why the discrepancy?

It looks to me like St. Luke, the careful historian and physician (Luke 1:1–4, Col. 4:14) who dealt in verifiable facts, did not want to commit himself to the report of the disciples headed to Emmaus. He reported what they said, but in his own retelling of the Resurrection to Theophilus, St. Luke called the two beings "men." Because he didn't know for certain whether they were men or angels, he offered what he evidently considered to be the more likely explanation.

All of which goes to show just how scrupulously he undertook the task of giving an accurate account of extraordinary events such as the Resurrection. He wasn't trying to create a fable or a parable, he was seeking to record actual historical events.

(Image: Angel statue, Pixabay.)