As a word having literal, metaphorical, and theological connotations, “way” is used in the Bible with a variety of meanings. The specific term “the Way,” though, can be attributed to Luke, who used it in Acts to designate the early Christian movement (9.2; 19.2, 23; 22.4; 24.14, 22); according to Luke it was known in both Palestine and Ephesus and also to the Roman procurator, Felix (24.22). The theology of the Way is further developed by Luke in the form of a travel narrative in two stages, first from Galilee to Jerusalem (Luke 9.51–19.27), and from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth (Acts 1.8).

The specific use of the Way as another name for Christianity seems to have its background in various sources, including the Qumran community. In the document known as the Manual of Discipline, the Essene way of life is referred to as “the Way” (1QS 8.13–16; 9.16–21), and it consists in the strict observance of the law. The inspiration for this comes from Isaiah 40.3, with its invitation to prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness, used also by the synoptic Gospels as the starting point of the New Testament preaching by John the Baptist. Later John identifies Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life (John 14.6).

Joseph Pathrapankal, C.M.I.