Gift of W. G. Russell Allen/©2000 Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

Family dinner? After the Resurrection, Jesus appears to two people traveling along the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Although they fail to recognize Jesus, they nevertheless invite him home to dine, and Jesus agrees. Rembrandt’s etching “Christ at Emmaus” (1654) depicts the moment when Jesus blesses the bread and gives it to them, and “their eyes were opened, and they recognized him” (Luke 24:31). The Gospel of Luke identifies only one of the people whom Jesus meets on the road to Emmaus—a man with the Greek name Cleopas. According to author Bauckham, in Jesus’ cosmopolitan world, people with Semitic names often went by similar sounding Greek names. Jesus’ uncle Clopas may well have assumed the name of Cleopas—and therefore may be the man in this scene.

Luke never identifies Cleopas’s companion on the road, not even by gender, although most later commentators and artists have portrayed this figure as a man. Rembrandt, however, has identified her as a woman (standing at left). Author Bauckham proposes that the unidentified figure in the gospel story may well have been Mary of Clopas. He suggests that the couple may often have been on the road together, as traveling missionaries for the earliest Church.