As I was thinking about the Lord's supper, and possible connections between "taking" and "eating" in Matthew 26:26 and Genesis 3:6, another possible connection occured to me. Towards the end of Luke, in the story about Jesus on the road to Emmaus, we read:

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.

Luke 24:30-31 (NIV emphasis mine)

This reminded me perhaps of Genesis 3:6-7:

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

However, when I did a search on "eyes" and "opened" it seems like not an uncommon metaphor. At least there were enough other occurrences to cast doubt that this is a clear allusion. However, it's not so common that I would dismiss it out of hand either. Are there other reasons to think that Luke might be making an allusion to Genesis 3:7 here?

  • Did you find other NT usages? “Eyes” get used pretty frequently in Hebrew, metaphorically and otherwise, including “opened”, but I don’t know how common it is in Greek sans allusion to the HB/LXX. (Or maybe just Hebraic influence, which seems likely even if there is no allusion to a particular text).
    – Susan
    Jul 17, 2015 at 5:03
  • 1
    off the cuff I would say 'no' and a quick scan of Beale/ Carson seems to bear that out :D Jul 17, 2015 at 7:38
  • @Susan The other NT usages are in John 9, Mark 8, and Matthew 9, 20 - all referring to Jesus healing physical blindness (though with obvious symbolism, especially in John 9). And then there are three in Acts: an odd reference in 9:8 to Saul being blind ("although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing"), in 9:40 when Peter raises Tabitha, and then probably the only other directly metaphorical reference in the NT in 26:18 where Paul describes his commission to the Gentiles - that he might "open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light."
    – Soldarnal
    Jul 17, 2015 at 12:48
  • For what it’s worth....from what I can tell all of the others use ἀνοίγω; only Luke 24:31 uses διανοίγω (considerably less common, always - in the NT - metaphorical - womb, mind, scriptures, etc.) with ὀφθαλμοὶ, same as LXX Gen 3:6,7. And in the LXX that phrase in its passive form is limited to Gen 3. No idea if that’s meaningful, but that’s all I have to contribute. :-)
    – Susan
    Jul 17, 2015 at 13:09
  • Using TLG, I tried to find examples outside GNT, LXX and Patristics but didn't find any. Some form of it occurs over 30 times in LXX which suggests that it was a greek form of a Hebrew idiom. The lxx samples: Gen. 3:5, Gen. 3:7, Gen. 21:19, Judg. 11:35, 1Kings 8:29, 1Kings 8:52, 2Kings 4:35, 2Kings 6:17, 2Kings 6:20, 2Kings 19:16, 2Chr. 6:20, 2Chr. 6:40, 2Chr. 7:15, Neh. 1:6, Tob. 2:10, Tob. 11:7, Prov. 20:13, Job 27:19, Zech. 12:4, Is. 35:5, Is. 42:7, Bar. 2:17, Dan. 9:18 Jul 17, 2015 at 19:33

1 Answer 1


Yes, there is likely an allusion here.

I had trouble finding many commentators who discuss even the possibility of an allusion. In fact, the sole mention I could find came from Luke Timothy Johnson's volume on Luke in the Sacra Pagina series. Almost in passing he writes:

The phrase echoes the biblical language used of Adam and Eve in Gen 3:7, "the eyes of the two were opened and they recognized that they were naked."

However, there is an article in the Journal of the Evangelical Society Volum 53(4), where Dane Ortlund addresses the very question. The article is titled, '"And Their Eyes Were Opened, and They Knew": An Inter-canonical Note on Luke 24:31.'

He begins by surveying what he considers to be the neglect of attention to the allusion, listing a large number of commentaries, monographs, and theologies that make no mention of the topic. Particularly he finds the lack of mention in Pao and Schnabel's chapter on Luke in Carson and Beale's Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament to be a serious lacuna.

However, he mentions three scholars who mention the allusion: the previously mentioned statement in L.T. Johnson's volume, a couple of remarks in some of N.T. Wright's works (e.g. on p. 652 in The Resurrection of the Son of God), and in a work by Arthur Just titled The Ongoing Feast: Table Fellowship and Eschatology at Emmaus.

Having surveyed the literature he goes on to build his argument for an allusion along four lines: 1) linguistic, 2) narratival, 3) interpretive, and 4) redemptive-history.

Ortlund notes as some have mentioned in comments above that the word translated "opened" - διανοίγω - in Luke 24:31 is rare within the New Testament. In fact, in application to eyes being opened, this is its sole use. Moreover, this is the same word used in the LXX in Genesis 3:7. Second, though, Ortlund extends the connection beyond eyes being opened, to the part of recognition noting that ἐπιγινώσκω ("recognized") in Luke and γινώσκω ("realized") share the same γινωσκω root.

In terms of narrative, Ortlund makes a number of connections between the two accounts: some more convincing than others. At the most basic narratival level, though, is the consuming of food, followed by the opening of the eyes, followed finally by the profound new recognition of a spiritual reality.

Ortlund states, "A third reason for suspecting an inter-canonical allusion in Luke 24:31 is the explanatory power it provides to the flow of Luke 24 as a whole." Here he argues that the disciples are kept from recognizing Jesus so that the critical point of recognition is in the breaking and eating of bread. This allows it to match up with the Genesis narrative in which also the critical point of recognition is in the eating.

Finally, Ortlund supports the allusion along redemptive-historical grounds, suggesting that Luke's concern is to highlight the new creation. Similarly, Wright in his brief treatment of the passage in The Resurrection of the Son of God points out that the Genesis 3 eating is the first meal of the original creation, the Luke 24 passage the first meal of the new creation.

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