Did the other disciples believe the two who saw the risen Jesus on the road to Emmaus?

Posted on May.13, 2009. Filed in Mark, Luke. Average rating: 2.0 / 10 (Rate It).

Following his death, the resurrected Jesus appeared to two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus. The gospels contradict each other, however, concerning the what reaction they got when told the other disciples about the encounter.

Luke records that by the time the men who had seen Jesus on the road to Emmaus told the other disciples that Jesus had risen, they already knew this because Jesus had appeared to Peter:

That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ Then they told what had happened on the road… [Luke 24:33-35a]

Mark, however, says that the other disciples didn’t believe them:

After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking in the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them. [Mark 16:12-13]

So did the other disciples believe the two who saw the risen Jesus on the road to Emmaus or not?

N.B. All posts are written in a style sympathetic to the claim of Biblical error, even in cases where the author ("Errancy") disagrees with the claim. See the About page for the site's philosophy.

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  1. 1

    Apart from the two responses above, there is also this possibility: Mark is not clear about who these others (rendered in NRSV above as “the rest”) are who disbelieved the two travelers. What if the holy women and the eleven did believe the travelers, but none or few of the other disciples did? This state-of-affairs satisfies both Mark and Luke.

  2. 2

    The two disciples can’t have been the ones saying “He has risen indeed”, because in the text the disciples speaking were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed and has appeared to Simon!”

    The two on the road couldn’t have known about any appearance to Simon, as he was back in Jerusalem.

  3. 3

    I think you are right about that DS. It looks like the eleven were saying that Jesus had risen in Luke.

    You’re either going to have to say that this problem only comes in the longer ending of Mark, or argue that there are still others beside the eleven and the holy women who were gathered with them and that those others were the ones doubting the two who saw Jesus on the road.

  4. 4

    An explanation from Expositions of Holy Scripture by
    Alexander MacLaren is as follows:

    The unbelief of the story of the two from Emmaus seems to conflict with Luke’s account, which tells that they were met by the news of Christ’s appearance to Simon. But the two statements are not contradictory. If we remember the excitement and confusion of mind in which they were, we shall not wonder if belief and unbelief followed each other, like the flow and recoil of the waves. One moment they were on the crest of the billows, and saw land ahead; the next they were down in the trough, and saw only the melancholy surge. The very fact that Peter was believed, might make them disbelieve the travellers; for how could Jesus have been in Jerusalem and Emmaus at so nearly the same time?

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