The more I study the literary aspects of the Bible the more I am amazed by the fact that I never stop being amazed. Often the human writers of the Bible are portrayed as ignorant and unskilled men, but I simply cannot come to that conclusion as they constantly display a remarkable ability to work with and combine deep themes and complex ideas without losing the flow of their narratives. I was just reminded about this fact as I read N.T. Wright describing one such connection that occurs in the Gospel of Luke, a connection I had never seen or heard before. I will quote him at length:
“And though, as we remarked earlier, his story (referring to the resurrection narrative in his gospel) like the others is nevertheless remarkably free from direct biblical echoes, there is one, at the heart of the Emmaus story, which surely tells us something about what Luke reckons to be the significance of Easter.
The first meal mentioned in the Bible is the moment when Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit. The direct result is new and unwelcome knowledge ‘the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked’ (…Genesis 3.7). Now this other couple, Cleopas and his companion…, are at the table, and confronted with new and deeply welcome knowledge: ‘their eyes were opened, and they recognized him’ (…Luke 24.31) This, Luke is saying, is the ultimate redemption; this is the meal which signifies that the long exile of the human race, not just of Israel, is over at last. This is the start of the new creation. This is why ‘repentance and forgiveness of sins are to be announced to all nations’ (24.47).’”1
What a connection! What writing! This is not just fancifully making the text more than it is, but is the art of looking deep into the author’s intent and entering his point of view and trying to understand the message he is trying to convey. The results are wonderful and are a reminder that behind every Biblical text is the work of not just a human author but the Divine Author breathing out His Word. (II Timothy 3:16-17) Keep reading, keep studying, keep glorifying God.
1. N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, Fortress Press (Minneapolis, 2003), Ch. 16, P. 652