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Emmaus (Nikopolis)
 
Emmaus is the village in which Jesus first appeared after the Resurrection. It is described as being not far from Jerusalem, but its identification with any particular location is not certain.
This particular village, which was the ancient city of Nikopolis, was identified as the biblical Emmaus since the fourth century or earlier, and it became an important pilgrimage destination throughout the Byzantine era and Middle Ages. However, modern scholars think this site is highly unlikely to be the biblical Emmaus, mainly because it is too far from Jerusalem.
Today Emmaus Nikopolis is a Muslim village with excavated ruins of a Byzantine basilica with Crusader renovations, a small archaeological museum, and a modern Trappist monastery.

 

Ruins of a Byzantine-Crusader basilica at Emmaus


Emmaus is first mentioned in 1 Maccabees, which is part of the Catholic Bible, in reference to Judas Machabeus' victory of Gorgias there in 166-165 BC: "So they went forth with all their power, and came, and pitched near Emmaus, in the plain country." (1 Maccabees 3:40).
In the New Testament, it was on the road to Emmaus that two disciples met Jesus in his first appearance after the Resurrection. Arriving in Emmaus, they broke bread with him before realizing his true identity:
"Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about 60 stadia (7 miles) from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him....
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.
Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?" (Luke 24:13-16, 28-32)
 

The apse of the basilica


The identification of this site as the Emmaus of the gospel story is quite old. It was well-established by the 4th century and may even date back to the 3rd century in the writings of Julius Africanus and Origen. Christian pilgrims from the Byzantine to Crusader eras revered this as the site of Christ's post-Resurrection appearance. However, according to modern scholars it is very unlikely that Nikopolis is the Emmaus where Jesus appeared.
The most and best manuscripts of Luke 24:13 say Emmaus was 60 stadia (7 miles) from Jerusalem, not 160 stadia as early biblical commentaries say. It is thought that the number 160 is a correction by Origen and others to make the Gospel text agree with the Palestinian tradition of their time. Emmaus Nikopolis is 176 stadia (18 miles) from Jerusalem.
Another problem is that the distance of 160 stadia (or the actual 176) would imply about six hours' walk, but the biblical account says the disciples had only gone out to the country and could return to Jerusalem before the gates were shut (Mark 16:12; Luke 24:33). Finally, the Emmaus of the Gospel is said to be a village, while Nikopolis was described as the flourishing capital of a "toparchy."
The Ammaus mentioned by Josephus (Ant. Jud., VII, vi, 6) as 60 stadia from Jerusalem, where Vespasian and Titus stationed 800 veterans, is probably the Emmaus of the Bible. But it must have been destroyed at the time of the revolt of Bar-Cochba (132-35 AD) under Hadrian, and its site was unknown as early as the third century.
Early Christian writers identified the biblical Emmaus with Emmaus Nikopolis, as it was the only Emmaus known at their time. Other sites closer to Jerusalem that have been suggested as Emmaus include Abu-Gosh, Kubeibah, and Motsa.
 

Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio (1601-02)


A little after the victory of the Maccabees mentioned above, the Syrian general Bacchides fortified and garrisoned Emmaus (Josephus, Ant. Jud. 13.1.3). In 4 AD, during the rebellion of Athrongius against the Romans, the inhabitants of Emmaus left their city, but it was nevertheless destroyed by Varus (Josephus, Ant. Jud. 17.10.7-9). The city recovered soon after, though, and Josephus (Bel. Jud. 3.3.5) and Pliny (Hist. nat., 5.14) rank it amongst the "toparchies" of the country.

Emperor Vespasian took Emmaus at the beginning of his campaign against the Jews, stationed a legion in the neighbourhood, and named it Nikopolis (according to Sozomon, Hist. eccl. 5.21). According to Eusebius and St. Jerome, the city was named Nikopolis in 223 by Julius Africanus, its governor and most illustrious son.
The pagan emperor Julian the Apostate closed a sacred spring at Emmaus Nikopolis in which Christ was said to have washed his feet and which was believed to have healing properties (Sozomon, Hist. eccl., 5.21). The city had a bishop, who was subject to the Bishop of Jerusalem, throughout the Byzantine era.
At the beginning of the Arab conquest the plague broke out in Emmaus and the inhabitants fled. But they must have soon returned, for Emmaus remained a very important town. It was the last station captured by the Crusaders on their way to Jerusalem on June 6, 1099. In the later Middle Ages Emmaus seems to have had some Latin bishops.
The ancient site was excavated between 1924 and 1930, but much remains to be uncovered. Today, Emmaus Nikopolis is known as 'Am'was and is a Muslim village.
 

Byzantine inscription found in the basilica


Emmaus Nikopolis is home to a 4th or 5th century Byzantine basilica that was substantially rebuilt by the Crusaders. Its apse and walls remain standing and there is a simple stone altar in the apse. One artifact can be seen at the church, which is a replica of an interesting Byzantine inscription found here. It reads, "In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Beautiful, the city of the Christians is."
Also at the site is a small museum that displays Jewish ossuaries and ancient mosaics. More remains of the ancient city of Emmaus can be seen in Ayalon Park, a few hundred meters past the entrance.
Just south of the highway from the Emmaus site is the Latrun Monastery (a.k.a. El-Atroun), founded by the Trappists in 1890. The Trappists are a strict sect of Cistercian monks, who keep silent most of the time. The priory is thus also known as the Monastery of Silence.
 


Names: Emmaus; Nikopolis; Nicopolis; Emmaus Nikpolis; 'Am'was 
Location: 18 miles (176 stadia) from Jerusalem on the road to Jaffa
From Jerusalem, take Highway 1 west for 30km, exit on the Latrun junction, and turn north. The entrance to Emmaus-Nikopolis archaeological site is a few hundred meters north of the junction.

 

 


 

 

Church of the Primacy of Peter, Tabgha
 

The Church of the Primacy of Peter is a modest Franciscan chapel that incorporates part of a 4th-century church. It is located at Tabgha on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee and commemorates Jesus' reinstatement of Peter after a fish breakfast on the shore.
 

The Church of the Primacy of Peter on the shores of the Sea of Galilee


In John 21, Jesus appears to his disciples for the third time after his resurrection on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. The night before, Peter and several other disciples had sailed out on the lake to fish, but caught nothing. In the morning, a man appeared on the shore and called out to them to throw their net on the right side of the boat. Doing so, they caught so many fish they couldn't drag the net back into the boat.
 

The stone steps "where the Lord stood"


At this point Peter recognizes Jesus, and promptly jumps out of the boat to wade to shore to meet him. The other disciples follow in the boat, dragging the net behind them. When they land, Jesus has prepared a charcoal fire for the fish and provided bread, and they have breakfast together (John 21:9). This is believed to have taken place on the mensa Christi, a large rock incorporated in the chapel.
 

Closer look at the steps of Jesus


After breakfast, Jesus reinstated Peter (after his three-time denial of Jesus at the crucifixion) with the words "Feed my sheep" (John 21:15-19). This is the event for which the modern church is named, which is interpreted by the Catholic Church to give the Pope (as the successor of Peter) authority over the worldwide Church.
 

Shores of the Galilee


Sometime around 381, the Spanish pilgrim Egeria visited the area and reported that next to the Church of the Loaves and Fishes "are some stone steps where the Lord stood" (John 21:4).
Egeria does not mention a church here, but one was built on the site by the end of the 4th century. It was roughly the same size and shape as the original Church of the Loaves and Fishes and its east end enclosed a flat rock identified as the table on which Jesus offered breakfast to the disciples (John 21:9).

 

A fish washed up onshore, perhaps like the one Jesus cooked for his disciples


In the 9th century, the church is referred to as the Place of the Coals. By this time (first mentioned 808 AD), the Twelve Thrones had been placed along the shore to commemorate the Twelve Apostles. The church survived longer than any other church in the area, and was finally destroyed in 1263. The present Franciscan chapel was built on the site in 1933.
The Franciscan chapel is small and made of grey stone, with a modest tower in one corner. It is pleasantly located right on the northwest shoreline of the Sea of Galilee.
At the base of the chapel's walls on the west end, the walls of the late 4th-century church are clearly visible on three sides. Like the early church, the modern chapel incorporates a large portion of the stone "table of Christ" (Latin: Mensa Christi) at the altar. This is where Jesus is believed to have served his disciples a fish breakfast after they landed on shore (John 21:9).
On the lake side of the church are the rock-cut steps mentioned by Egeria as the place "where the Lord stood." It is not known when they were carved, but it may have been in the 2nd or 3rd century when this area was quarried for limestone.
 

Church interior with Mensa Christi


Below the steps are six heart-shaped double-column blocks known as the Twelve Thrones, which can be under water when the lake level is high. Originally designed for the angle of a colonnade, they were probably taken from disused buildings and placed here to commemorate the Twelve Apostles. The association likely derived from Luke 22:30: "You will eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel."

Just beside the church is a small Crusader building. Also nearby are Byzantine water towers that were designed to raise the water level of the powerful springs so that they flowed into a series of irrigation canals and mill-streams. The mills are modern.
A little further inland from the Church of the Primacy of Peter is the Church of the Loaves and Fishes, which is well worth a visit.

 

The Mensa Christi


Di pinggir danau Tiberias, tidak jauh dari gereja Pergandaan Roti terdapat sebuah gereja mungil namun sangat mengesankan yang terletak bi atas sebuah tanjung cadas. Gereja ini milik biarawan OFM, dan dikenal sebagai gereja Primat Petrus atau juga sebagai gereja Penampakan Tuhan yang Telah Bangkit. Disebut gereja Penampakan Tuhan sebab di tempat inilah Yesus yang sudah bangkit menampakkan dirinya kepada 7 rasul yang sepanjang malam tidak berhasil menangkap ikan, namun atas perintah Yesus kemudian tertangkap 153 ekor ikan. Sesudahnya Yesus mengadakan sarapan bersama para rasulnya Yohanes 21:1-14).

Gereja ini disebut pula gereja Primat Petrus, sebab sehabis sarapan, Yesus sebanyak 3 kali bertanya kepada Petrus, apakah ia mengasihiNya. Setelah Petrus berkata, "Tuhan, Tuhan tahu segalanya, Tuhan tahu saya mencintai Tuhan" (Yohanes 21:17), Yesus mempercayakan kepadanya tugas memimpin gereja sambil berkata: "Peliharalah domba-dombaku". Kata primat adalah singkatan kata Latin primatus yang searti dengan kedudukan utama / tertinggi kekuasaan. Di dalam gereja yang mengabadikan peristiwa ini terdapat cadas di lantai yang dinamakan Mensa Christi (=Meja Kristus), karena di situlah Yesus duduk makan ikan bersama para rasulnya. Gereja yang sekarang berdiri di tempat ini didirikan pada tahun 1934 di atas reruntuhan beberapa gereja sebelumnya.


Names: Church of the Primacy of Peter; Chapel of the Primacy; St. Peter's Church 
Dates: Late 4th-century; 1938
Location: Tabgha, Galilee, northern Israel
In the Bible: John 21:9, Luke 22:30
Hours: Daily 8-noon, 2-5

 

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