Elijah, Elisha, John, and Jesus.

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 7837
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Elijah, Elisha, John, and Jesus.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Oct 27, 2017 10:27 am

I am posting this thread in order to lay out (and collect more) parallels between the John/Jesus material in the gospels and the Elijah/Elisha material in the Hebrew scriptures. I believe that there are certainly deliberate parallels between these two cycles, as later Christians recognized:

Aphrahat, Demonstrations 6.13: 13 Our Lord testifies concerning John, that he is the greatest of the Prophets. Yet he received the Spirit by limit, because in that measure in which Elijah received the Spirit, (in the same) John obtained it. And as Elijah used to dwell in the wilderness, so also the Spirit of God led John into the wilderness, and he used to dwell in the mountains and caves. The birds sustained Elijah, and John used to eat locusts that fly. Elijah had his loins girded with a girdle of leather; so John had his loins girded with a cincture of leather. Jezebel persecuted Elijah, and Herodias persecuted John. Elijah reproved Ahab, and John reproved Herod. Elijah divided the Jordan, and John opened up baptism. The spirit of Elijah rested twofold upon Elisha, so John laid his hand on our Redeemer, and He received the Spirit not by measure. Elijah opened the heavens and ascended; and John saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit of God which descended and rested upon our Redeemer. Elisha received twofold the Spirit of Elijah; and our Redeemer received that of John and that of heaven. Elisha took the mantle of Elijah, and our Redeemer the imposition of the hand of the priests. Elisha made oil from water, and our Redeemer made wine from water. Elisha satisfied with a little bread a hundred men only; and our Redeemer satisfied with a little bread five thousand men besides children and women. Elisha cleansed Naaman the leper, and our Redeemer cleansed the ten (lepers). Elisha cursed the children and they were devoured by bears, but our Redeemer blessed the children. The children reviled Elisha, but the children glorified our Redeemer with Hosannas. Elisha cursed Gehazi his servant, and our Redeemer cursed Judas His disciple and blessed all His (other) disciples. Elisha raised to life one dead man only, but our Redeemer raised up three to life. On the bones of Elisha one dead man revived, but when our Saviour descended to the abode of the dead, He quickened many and raised them up. And many are the signs that the Spirit of Christ wrought, which the Prophets received from Him.

I want to emphasize that, while some of the parallels cleanly equate John with Elijah and Jesus with Elisha, not all do. Sometimes the parallels are more general than this, with Elijah serving as inspiration for Jesus as well as for John. So it is really the two overall cycles (John/Jesus and Elijah/Elisha) that I am comparing here.

Some of what follows comes from Roger David Aus, in Feeding the Five Thousand, and from Thomas L. Brodie, in Birthing of the New Testament: The Intertextual Development of the NT Writings. However, much of it comes from general background study of my own over the years, from sources as diverse as J. D. Crossan, David Ulansey, and N. T. Wright.

General Patterns

Elijah ranks third (bur first in Mark; tied with Abraham overall) among famous Jewish heroes in terms of number of mentions by name in the gospels:

Mentions of Moses (37 by name)
Matthew, 7
Mark, 8
Luke, 10
John, 12

Mentions of David (34 by name)
Matthew, 15
Mark, 7
Luke, 11
John, 1

Mentions of Elijah (27 by name)
Matthew, 9
Mark, 9
Luke, 7
John, 2

Mentions of Abraham (27 by name)
Matthew, 6
Mark, 1
Luke, 13
John, 7

Mentions of Isaiah (14 by name)
Matthew, 6
Mark, 2
Luke, 2
John, 4

This is fairly impressive given that Moses is considered to be the founder of Judaism and David is considered to be Jesus' most important ancestor. The numbers change considerably outside of the gospel record, where Elijah receives only two explicit mentions in the entire rest of the NT:

Romans 11.1-5: 1 I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? 3 "Lord, they have killed Your prophets, they have torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they are seeking my life." 4 But what is the divine response to him? "I have kept for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal." 5 In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God's gracious choice.

James 5.16-18: 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.

Elisha, on the other hand, is mentioned only once in the entire NT:

Luke 4.24-28: 24 And He said, "Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown. 25 But I say to you in truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land; 26 and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian." 28 And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things.

Yet parallels to Elisha in which the prophet is not explicitly named will be abundant, as we shall see.

Literary Genre

I have argued elsewhere that the gospels belong to whatever genre we deem appropriate for the narrative portions of the Hebrew scriptures. I stand by that assessment. In particular, the stories of Elijah and Elisha in 1 and 2 Kings read very similarly to the stories we read about Jesus in the gospels. Pericope length is compatible. There are many overlaps of theme (prophets, miracles, oppressors and poor people, and so on). Episodes most frequently stand alone, but in key sections they can be part of an overarching story arc (Elijah versus Ahab and Jezebel; Elisha and Jehu; the passion of Jesus). Direct quotation of characters is offered far more often than indirect. The authors rarely if ever make their presence felt in the narrative. If you were to change the names of people and places in many pericopes, you could easily make passages dealing with Elijah and Elisha sound like passages dealing with Jesus, and vice versa.

John As Elijah

There are passages which explicitly equate or compare John with Elijah:

Matthew 11.11-15: 11 Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Matthew 17.9-13: 9 As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, "Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man has risen from the dead." 10 And His disciples asked Him, "Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?" 11 And He answered and said, "Elijah is coming and will restore all things; 12 but I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands." 13 Then the disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John the Baptist.

Mark 9.9-13: 9 As they were coming down from the mountain, He gave them orders not to relate to anyone what they had seen, until the Son of Man rose from the dead. 10 They seized upon that statement, discussing with one another what rising from the dead meant. 11 They asked Him, saying, "Why is it that the scribes say that Elijah must come first?" 12 And He said to them, "Elijah does first come and restore all things. And yet how is it written of the Son of Man that He will suffer many things and be treated with contempt? 13 But I say to you that Elijah has indeed come, and they did to him whatever they wished, just as it is written of him."

Luke 1.13-17: 13 But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. 14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother's womb. 16 And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. 17 It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

Luke 7.28: 28 I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."

There are also passages in which the comparison is more implicit:

Matthew 3.4: 4 Now John himself had a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.

Mark 1.6: 6 John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey.

2 Kings 1.8: And they answered him, "He was a hairy man with a leather girdle bound about his loins." And he said, "It is Elijah the Tishbite."

And John is also equated with the messenger in Malachi 3, who can easily be equated with Elijah in Malachi 4:

Matthew 11.10: 10 This is the one about whom it is written, "Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You, who will prepare Your way before You."

Mark 1.2-3: 2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: "Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You, who will prepare Your way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord; make His paths straight.'"

Luke 7.27: 27 "This is the one about whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You, who will prepare Your way before You.'"

Malachi 3.1-4: 1 "Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming," says Yahweh of hosts. 2 "But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap. 3 And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to Yahweh offerings in righteousness. 4 "Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to Yahweh, as in the days of old and as in former years.

Malachi 4.5-6: 5 "Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. 6 He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse."

Wisdom of Sirach 48.4-14: 4 How glorious you were, O Elijah, in your wondrous deeds! And who has the right to boast which you have? 5 You who raised a corpse from death and from Hades, by the word of the Most High; 6 who brought kings down to destruction, and famous men from their beds; 7 who heard rebuke at Sinai and judgments of vengeance at Horeb; 8 who anointed kings to inflict retribution, and prophets to succeed you. 9 You who were taken up by a whirlwind of fire, in a chariot with horses of fire; 10 you who are ready at the appointed time, it is written, to calm the wrath of God before it breaks out in fury, to turn the heart of the father to the son, and to restore the tribes of Jacob. 11 Blessed are those who saw you, and those who have been adorned in love; for we also shall surely live. 12 It was Elijah who was covered by the whirlwind, and Elisha was filled with his spirit; in all his days he did not tremble before any ruler, and no one brought him into subjection. 13 Nothing was too hard for him, and when he was dead his body prophesied. 14 As in his life he did wonders, so in death his deeds were marvelous.

4Q558, fragment 1, column 2, lines 1-5: 1 [...] evil [...] 2 [...] their [...] who ... [...] 3 the eighth as an elected one. And see, I [...] 4 to you I will send Elijah, befo[re ...] 5 po[w]er, lightning and met[eors ....]

Isaiah 40.3: 3 A voice is calling, "Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God."

Sibylline Oracles 2.226-237:

.... O blessed servants
Whom when the Master comes he finds awake!
And they all watch at all times and expect
With sleepless eyes. For it will be at dawn
Or eve or midday; but he sure shall come,
And it shall be as I say, it shall be,
To them that sleep, that from the starry heaven
The stars at midday will to all appear
With the two lights as the time hastens on.
And then the Tishbite, urging from the heaven
His chariot celestial, and on earth
Arriving, shall to all the world display
Three evil signs of life to be destroyed.

Interestingly, there is also a passage which explicitly denies that John is Elijah:

John 1.19-23: 19 This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" 20 And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ." 21 They asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" And he says, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No." 22 Then they said to him, "Who are you, so that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?" 23 He said, "I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,' as Isaiah the prophet said."

Of course, such a denial may well imply that this very claim was being made.

John As Elisha

The very idea of baptizing in the Jordan may derive from the story of Elisha and Naaman:

Matthew 3.1-2, 5-6: 3 Now in those days John the Baptist comes, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” .... 5 Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; 6 and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.

Mark 1.4-5: 4 John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.

Luke 3.3: 3 And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

John 1.28: 28 These things took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

2 Kings (4 Kingdoms) 5.8-14: 8 It happened when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent word to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Now let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman came with his horses and his chariots and stood at the doorway of the house of Elisha. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.” 11 But Naaman was furious and went away and said, “Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.’ 12 Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. 13 Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan [ἐβαπτίσατο ἐν τῷ ᾿Ιορδάνῃ ἑπτάκις], according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child and he was clean.

(Thanks to Difflugia for this reminder.)

Jesus As Elisha

Jesus is portrayed as taking over in some way from John the baptist in the gospels, and also as having received the spirit during his baptism at the Jordan. Elisha is portrayed as taking over from Elijah in the Hebrew scriptures, receiving a double portion of his spirit, also at the Jordan:

2 Kings 2.1-15: 1 And it came about when the Lord was about to take up Elijah by a whirlwind to heaven, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. 2 Elijah said to Elisha, "Stay here please, for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel." But Elisha said, "As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you." So they went down to Bethel. 3 Then the sons of the prophets who were at Bethel came out to Elisha and said to him, "Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today?" And he said, "Yes, I know; be still." 4 Elijah said to him, "Elisha, please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to Jericho." But he said, "As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you." So they came to Jericho. 5 The sons of the prophets who were at Jericho approached Elisha and said to him, "Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today?" And he answered, "Yes, I know; be still." 6 Then Elijah said to him, "Please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan." And he said, "As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you." So the two of them went on. 7 Now fifty men of the sons of the prophets went and stood opposite them at a distance, while the two of them stood by the Jordan. 8 Elijah took his mantle and folded it together and struck the waters, and they were divided here and there, so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground. 9 When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, "Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you." And Elisha said, "Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me." 10 He said, "You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so." 11 As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven. 12 Elisha saw it and cried out, "My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!" And he saw Elijah no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. 13 He also took up the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and returned and stood by the bank of the Jordan. 14 He took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and struck the waters and said, "Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?" And when he also had struck the waters, they were divided here and there; and Elisha crossed over. 15 Now when the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho opposite him saw him, they said, "The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha." And they came to meet him and bowed themselves to the ground before him.

Both Jesus and Elisha are frequently portrayed as prophets; as itinerant, apparently unmarried prophets, at that.

Both Jesus and Elisha are frequently portrayed as miracle workers. They also perform similar miracles. Elisha multiplies oil (2 Kings 4.1-7) and loaves of bread (2 Kings 4.42-44), while Jesus multiplies loaves of bread and fish. Both Elisha (2 Kings 5.1-14) and Jesus heal lepers. Both Elisha (2 Kings 4.18-37) and Jesus raise the dead. The feedings of large crowds seem especially rooted in the story of Elisha:

Matthew 14.13-21: 13 Now when Jesus heard it, He withdrew from there in a boat, to a lonely place by Himself; and when the multitudes heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. 14 And when He went ashore, He saw a great multitude, and felt compassion for them, and healed their sick. 15 And when it was evening, the disciples came to Him, saying, "The place is desolate, and the time is already past; so send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves." 16 But Jesus said to them, "They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!" 17 And they said to Him, "We have here only five loaves and two fish." 18 And He said, "Bring them here to Me." 19 And ordering the multitudes to recline on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave to the multitudes, 20 and they all ate, and were satisfied. And they picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. 21 And there were about five thousand men who ate, aside from women and children.

Mark 6.30-44: 30 The apostles gather together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught. 31 And He says to them, "Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while." (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) 32 They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves. 33 They saw them going, and many recognized them and ran there together on foot from all the cities, and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things. 35 When it was already quite late, His disciples came to Him and said, "This place is desolate and it is already quite late; 36 send them away so that they may go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat." 37 But He answered them, "You give them something to eat!" And they say to Him, "Shall we go and spend two hundred denarii on bread and give them something to eat?" 38 And He says to them, "How many loaves do you have? Go look!" And when they found out, they say, "Five, and two fish." 39 And He commanded them all to sit down by groups on the green grass. 40 They sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. 41 And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before them; and He divided up the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and they picked up twelve full baskets of the broken pieces, and also of the fish [ἰχθύων]. 44 There were five thousand men who ate the loaves.

Luke 9.10-17: 10 When the apostles returned, they gave an account to Him of all that they had done. Taking them with Him, He withdrew by Himself to a city called Bethsaida. 11 But the crowds were aware of this and followed Him; and welcoming them, He began speaking to them about the kingdom of God and curing those who had need of healing. 12 Now the day was ending, and the twelve came and said to Him, "Send the crowd away, that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside and find lodging and get something to eat; for here we are in a desolate place." 13 But He said to them, "You give them something to eat!" And they said, "We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless perhaps we go and buy food for all these people." 14 (For there were about five thousand men.) And He said to His disciples, "Have them sit down to eat in groups of about fifty each." 15 They did so, and had them all sit down. 16 Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed them, and broke them, and kept giving them to the disciples to set before the people. 17 And they all ate and were satisfied; and the broken pieces which they had left over were picked up, twelve baskets full.

John 6.1-13: 1 After these things Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (or Tiberias). 2 And a great multitude was following Him, because they were seeing the signs which He was performing on those who were sick. 3 And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. 5 Jesus therefore lifting up His eyes, and seeing that a great multitude was coming to Him, said to Philip, "Where are we to buy bread, that these may eat?" 6 And this He was saying to test him; for He Himself knew what He was intending to do. 7 Philip answered Him, "Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little." 8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him, 9 "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?" 10 Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 Jesus therefore took the loaves; and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted. 12 And when they were filled, He said to His disciples, "Gather up the leftover fragments that nothing may be lost." 13 And so they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, which were left over by those who had eaten.

Matthew 15.32-39: 32 And Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said, "I feel compassion for the multitude, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not wish to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way." 33 And the disciples said to Him, "Where would we get so many loaves in a desolate place to satisfy such a great multitude?" 34 And Jesus said to them, "How many loaves do you have?" And they said, "Seven, and a few small fish." 35 And He directed the multitude to sit down on the ground; 36 and He took the seven loaves and the fish; and giving thanks, He broke them and started giving them to the disciples, and the disciples in turn, to the multitudes. 37 And they all ate, and were satisfied, and they picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, seven large baskets full. 38 And those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. 39 And sending away the multitudes, He got into the boat, and came to the region of Magadan.

Mark 8.1-10: 1 In those days again, when there was a great multitude and they had nothing to eat, He called His disciples and said to them, 2 "I feel compassion for the multitude because they have remained with Me now three days, and have nothing to eat; 3 and if I send them away hungry to their home, they will faint on the way; and some of them have come from a distance." 4 And His disciples answered Him, "Where will anyone be able to find enough to satisfy these men with bread here in a desolate place?" 5 And He was asking them, "How many loaves do you have?" And they said, "Seven." 6 And He directed the multitude to sit down on the ground; and taking the seven loaves, He gave thanks and broke them, and started giving them to His disciples to serve to them, and they served them to the multitude. 7 They also had a few small fish; and after He had blessed them, He ordered these to be served as well. 8 And they ate and were satisfied; and they picked up seven large baskets full of what was left over of the broken pieces. 9 And about four thousand were there; and He sent them away. 10 And immediately He entered the boat with His disciples, and came to the district of Dalmanutha.

1 Kings 18.3-4: 3 Ahab called Obadiah who was over the household. (Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly; 4 for when Jezebel destroyed the prophets of the Lord, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave, and provided them with bread and water.)

2 Kings 4.42-44: 42 Now a man came from Baal-shalishah, and brought the man of God bread of the first fruits, twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. And he said, "Give them to the people that they may eat." 43 His attendant said, "What, will I set this before a hundred men?" But he said, "Give them to the people that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left over.'" 44 So he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.

Jesus is portrayed as being a teacher and having disciples in the gospels. While Elisha does not necessarily come across as a teacher per se in the Hebrew scriptures, he does come across this way in later Jewish treatments of him:

Josephus, Antiquities 9.4.4 §67-68, 70: 67 This story mightily grieved Joram when he heard it; so he rent his garment, and cried out with a loud voice, and conceived great wrath against Elisha the prophet, and set himself eagerly to have him slain, because he did not pray to God to provide them some exit and way of escape out of the miseries with which they were surrounded; and sent one away immediately to cut off his head, who made haste to kill the prophet. 68 But Elisha was not unacquainted with the wrath of the king against him; for as he sat in his house by himself, with none but his disciples [τοῖς μαθηταῖς] about him, he told them that Joram, who was the son of a murderer, had sent one to take away his head. .... 70 But Joram repented of his wrath against the prophet; and for fear he that was commanded to kill him should have done it before he came, he made haste to hinder his slaughter, and to save the prophet: and when he came to him, he accused him that he did not pray to God for their deliverance from the miseries they now lay under, but saw them so sadly destroyed by them.

Josephus, Antiquities 9.6.1 §106: 106 And he proposed, after he was healed, to make war with the Syrians; but Elisha the prophet sent one of his disciples [ἕνα τῶν αὑτοῦ μαθητῶν] to Ramoth, and gave him holy oil to anoint Jehu, and to tell him that God had chosen him to be their king. He also sent him to say other things to him, and bid him to take his journey as if he fled, that when he came away he might escape the knowledge of all men.

Roger David Aus adduces examples of rabbinic texts which treat Elisha as a teacher on pages 41-44 of Feeding the Five Thousand.

Jesus is portrayed as a man of prayer in the gospels. So is Elisha in the Hebrew scriptures and in later Jewish texts:

2 Kings 4.32-33: 32 When Elisha came into the house, behold the lad was dead and laid on his bed. 33 So he entered and shut the door behind them both and prayed to the Lord.

2 Kings 6.15-20: 15 Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, "Alas, my master! What shall we do?" 16 So he answered, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them." 17 Then Elisha prayed and said, "O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." And the Lord opened the servant's eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18 When they came down to him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, "Strike this people with blindness, I pray." So He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha. 19 Then Elisha said to them, "This is not the way, nor is this the city; follow me and I will bring you to the man whom you seek." And he brought them to Samaria. 20 When they had come into Samaria, Elisha said, "O Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they may see." So the Lord opened their eyes and they saw; and behold, they were in the midst of Samaria.

Josephus, Antiquities 9.4.3 §54-57: 54 Accordingly those that were sent brought word that he was in Dothan; wherefore Benhadad sent to that city a great army, with horses and chariots, to take Elisha: so they encompassed the city round about by night, and kept him therein confined; but when the prophet's servant in the morning perceived this, and that his enemies sought to take Elisha, he came running, and crying out after a disordered manner to him, and told him of it; 55 but he encouraged him, and bid him not be afraid, and to despise the enemy, and trust in the assistance of God, and was himself without fear; and he besought God to make manifest to his servant his power and presence, so far as was possible, in order to the inspiring him with hope and courage. Accordingly God heard the prayer of the prophet, and made the servant see a multitude of chariots and horses encompassing Elisha, till he laid aside his fear, and his courage revived at the sight of what he supposed was come to their assistance. 56a After this Elisha did further entreat God, that he would dim the eyes of their enemies, and cast a mist before them, whereby they might not discern him. When this was done, he went into the midst of his enemies, and asked them who it was that they came to seek; and when they replied, "The prophet Elisha," he promised he would deliver him to them, if they would follow him to the city where he was. 57 So these men were so darkened by God in their sight and in their mind, that they followed him very diligently; and when Elisha had brought them to Samaria, he ordered Joram the king to shut the gates, and to place his own army round about them; and prayed to God to clear the eyes of these their enemies, and take the mist from before them. Accordingly, when they were freed from the obscurity they had been in, they saw themselves in the midst of their enemies;

Josephus, Wars 4.8.3 §460-464: 460 The report is, that this fountain, at the beginning, caused not only the blasting of the earth and the trees, but of the children born of women, and that it was entirely of a sickly and corruptive nature to all things whatsoever; but that it was made gentle, and very wholesome and fruitful, by the prophet Elisha. This prophet was familiar with Elijah, and was his successor, 461 who, when he once was the guest of the people at Jericho, and the men of the place had treated him very kindly, he both made them amends as well as the country, by a lasting favor; 462 for he went out of the city to this fountain, and threw into the current an earthen vessel full of salt; after which he stretched out his righteous hand unto heaven, and, pouring out a mild drink-offering, he made this supplication, - That the current might be mollified, and that the veins of fresh water might be opened; 463 that God also would bring into the place a more temperate and fertile air for the current, and would bestow upon the people of that country plenty of the fruits of the earth, and a succession of children; and that this prolific water might never fail them, while they continued to he righteous. 464 To these prayers Elisha joined proper operations of his hands, after a skillful manner, and changed the fountain; and that water, which had been the occasion of barrenness and famine before, from that time did supply a numerous posterity, and afforded great abundance to the country.

Jesus As Elijah

Sometimes Jesus' sayings and deeds seem to mimic those of Elijah:

Matthew 4.18-22: 18 And walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishers. 19 And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." 20 And they immediately left the nets, and followed Him. 21 And going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. 22 And they immediately left the boat and their father, and followed Him.

Mark 1.16-20: 16 And as He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishers. 17 And Jesus said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men." 18 And they immediately left the nets and followed Him. 19 And going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him.

Luke 5.1-11: 1 Now it came about that while the multitude were pressing around Him and listening to the word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret; 2 and He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake; but the fishers had gotten out of them, and were washing their nets. 3 And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the multitudes from the boat. 4 And when He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch." 5 And Simon answered and said, "Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but at Your bidding I will let down the nets." 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish; and their nets began to break; 7 and they signaled to their partners in the other boat, for them to come and help them. And they came, and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus' feet, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" 9 For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken; 10 and so also James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men." 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.

Luke 9.57-62: 57 As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, "I will follow You wherever You go." 58 And Jesus said to him, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." 59 And He said to another, "Follow Me." But he said, "Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father." 60 But He said to him, "Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God." 61 Another also said, "I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home." 62 But Jesus said to him, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."

Matthew 8.19-22: 19 Then a scribe came and said to Him, "Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go." 20 Jesus said to him, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." 21 Another of the disciples said to Him, "Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father." 22 But Jesus said to him, "Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead."

1 Kings 19.19-21: 19 So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, while he was plowing with twelve pairs of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth. And Elijah passed over to him and threw his mantle on him. 20 He left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, "Please let me kiss my father and my mother, then I will follow you." And he said to him, "Go back again, for what have I done to you?" 21 So he returned from following him, and took the pair of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the implements of the oxen, and gave it to the people and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah and ministered to him.

And sometimes it is Jesus who is explicitly compared either to Elijah himself or to John the baptist, as well as to other prophets, at least by anonymous people in the gospel background:

Matthew 14.1-2: 1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the news about Jesus, 2 and said to his servants, "This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him."

Matthew 16.13-20: 13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" 14 And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets." 15 He says to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven." 20 Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ.

Mark 6.14-16: 14 And King Herod heard of it, for His name had become well known; and people were saying, "John the Baptist has risen from the dead, and that is why these miraculous powers are at work in Him." 15 But others were saying, "He is Elijah." And others were saying, "He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old." 16 But when Herod heard of it, he kept saying, "John, whom I beheaded, has risen!"

Mark 8.27-30: 27 Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, "Who do people say that I am?" 28 They told Him, saying, "John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; but others, one of the prophets." 29 And He continued by questioning them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered and said to Him, "You are the Christ." 30 And He warned them to tell no one about Him.

Luke 9.7-9: 7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was happening; and he was greatly perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead, 8 and by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen again. 9 Herod said, "I myself had John beheaded; but who is this man about whom I hear such things?" And he kept trying to see Him.

Luke 9.18-21: 18 And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, "Who do the people say that I am?" 19 They answered and said, "John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again." 20 And He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" And Peter answered and said, "The Christ of God." 21 But He warned them and instructed them not to tell this to anyone....

John 1.19-23: 19 This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" 20 And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ." 21 They asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" And he says, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No." 22 Then they said to him, "Who are you, so that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?" 23 He said, "I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,' as Isaiah the prophet said."

Thomas 52: 52 His disciples said to Him, "Twenty-four prophets spoke in Israel, and all of them spoke in You." He said to them, "You have omitted the one living in your presence and have spoken (only) of the dead."

Elijah is discussed explicitly at the Transfiguration, as well, in a way that suggests that "one greater than Elijah (and Moses) is here" (to steal a phrase):

Matthew 17.1-8: 1 Six days later Jesus takes with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and leads them up on a high mountain by themselves. 2 And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah." 5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!" 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. 7 And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, "Get up, and do not be afraid." 8 And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone.

Mark 9.2-8: 2 Six days later, Jesus takes with Him Peter and James and John, and brings them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; 3 and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them. 4 Elijah appeared to them along with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. 5 Peter says to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah." 6 For he did not know what to answer; for they became terrified. 7 Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, "This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!" 8 All at once they looked around and saw no one with them anymore, except Jesus alone.

Luke 9.28-36: 28 Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. 30 And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, 31 who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep; but when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him. 33 And as these were leaving Him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles: one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah" — not realizing what he was saying. 34 While he was saying this, a cloud formed and began to overshadow them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!" 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent, and reported to no one in those days any of the things which they had seen.

The Bookends

I have elsewhere written about the parallels between Jesus' baptism and his death in the gospels, especially that of Mark; these parallels include the Elijah connection. The transfiguration scene, mentioned just above, is also relevant here, since it, too, has the voice from heaven certifying Jesus' sonship. And, of course, it too explicitly mentions Elijah. But here I will lay out only the baptism and death.

Baptism:

Matthew 3.1-17: 1 Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, 2 "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." 3 For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord; make His paths straight!'" 4 Now John himself had a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; 6 and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; 9 and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father'; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. 10 The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 "As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." 13 Then Jesus arrives from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?" 15 But Jesus answering said to him, "Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he permits Him. 16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, 17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased."

Mark 1.2-11: 2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: "Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You,
who will prepare Your way; 3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord; make His paths straight.'" 4 John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. 6 John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey. 7 And he was preaching, and saying, "After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. 8 I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." 9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens tearing, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; 11 and a voice came out of the heavens: "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased."

Luke 3.1-17, 20-21: 1 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, 2 in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness. 3 And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins; 4 as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord; make His paths straight. 5 ‘Every ravine will be filled, and every mountain and hill will be brought low; the crooked will become straight, and the rough roads smooth; 6 and all flesh will see the salvation of God.'" 7 So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,' for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. 9 Indeed the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." 10 And the crowds were questioning him, saying, "Then what shall we do?" 11 And he would answer and say to them, "The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise." 12 And some tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, "Teacher, what shall we do?" 13 And he said to them, "Collect no more than what you have been ordered to." 14 Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, "And what about us, what shall we do?" And he said to them, "Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages." 15 Now while the people were in a state of expectation and all were wondering in their hearts about John, as to whether he was the Christ, 16 John answered and said to them all, "As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." .... 21 Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased."

Death:

Matthew 27.45-54: 45 Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. 46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" 47 And some of those who were standing there, when they heard it, began saying, "This man is calling for Elijah." 48 Immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink. 49 But the rest of them said, "Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him." 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. 51 And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. 54 Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, "Truly this was the Son of God!"

Mark 15.33-39: 33 When the sixth hour came, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" 35 When some of the bystanders heard it, they began saying, "Behold, He is calling for Elijah." 36 Someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink, saying, "Let us see whether Elijah will come to take Him down." 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. 38 And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, "Truly this man was the Son of God!"

Luke 23.44-47: 44 It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 because the sun was obscured; and the veil of the temple was torn in two. 46 And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit." Having said this, He breathed His last. 47 Now when the centurion saw what had happened, he began praising God, saying, "Certainly this man was innocent."

John 19.28-30: 28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, "I am thirsty." 29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. 30 Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

Peter 5.15-20: 15 But is was midday, and darkness held fast all Judea; and they were distressed and anxious lest the sun had set, since he was still living. [For] it is written for them: Let not the sun set on one put to death. 16 And someone of them said: 'Give him to drink gall with vinegary wine.' And having made a mixture, they gave to drink. 17 And they fulfilled all things and completed the sins on their own head. 18 But many went around with lamps, thinking that it was night, and they fell. 19 And the Lord screamed out, saying: 'My power, O power, you have forsaken me.' And having said this, he was taken up. 20 And at the same hour the veil of the Jerusalem sanctuary was torn into two.

Are there other connections which I have not listed above? Are there some listed above that seem ludicrous to you?

Thanks in advance.

Ben.
Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Tue Aug 11, 2020 6:29 am, edited 5 times in total.
ΤΙ ΕΣΤΙΝ ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ

User avatar
Secret Alias
Posts: 12388
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:47 am

Re: Elijah, Elisha, John, and Jesus.

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Oct 27, 2017 11:15 am

This is probably tangiential but the rabbinic tradition of a flying Elisha (where the name taken literally has some relationship with Jesus and even a spiritual Jesus) is interesting:

http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/en ... -kenafayim
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

Stefan Kristensen
Posts: 261
Joined: Wed May 24, 2017 1:54 am
Location: Denmark

Re: Elijah, Elisha, John, and Jesus.

Post by Stefan Kristensen » Fri Nov 03, 2017 3:00 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Fri Oct 27, 2017 10:27 am
Jesus is portrayed as taking over in some way from John the baptist in the gospels, and also as having received the spirit during his baptism at the Jordan. Elisha is portrayed as taking over from Elijah in the Hebrew scriptures, receiving a double portion of his spirit, also at the Jordan
Indeed. The disciples are not to begin their ministry before Jesus has ended his, i.e. he is "handed over" (παραδιδωμι). And Mark also specifically narrates Jesus' ministry as beginning not at his baptism but after the end of John's ministry, "after John had been arrested (παραδιδωμι)" (1:14). I think this is a pattern and that Mark uses the Elijah/Elisha cycle as stencil for the taking over of ministry.

When some people say that John "has been raised from the dead and therefore these powers work in Jesus" (6:14), I believe this is an understanding of Mark's that applies not to John and Jesus, but to Jesus and the 'church'. People here misunderstand about Jesus, but the reader understands that this is what is going on in the 'church' now. When Jesus ended, his powers were transferred to the apostles, or the 'church', to go spread the word to the world. In fact this story of John and Herod is framed by this event, imo. Both 6:1-13 and 6:30-52 relate, between the lines as Mark does (I think this is what Mark means with "everything comes in parables", 4:11), two aspects of this event, the risen Jesus giving the ministry to the 'church'. Perhaps "handing over" God's authority/spirit.

Also, it is of course not about Jesus/John, but Peter's denial is perhaps inspired by Elisha's threefold denial about not following Elijah before the end of the latter.

When Jesus walks on water and wants to "pass by" (παρερχομαι) in Mark 6:48, this is likely a reference to God "passing by" (παρερχομαι) Moses in Ex 33:19, and a parallel of this is Elijah's meeting with God in 1 Kings 19:11 (παρερχομαι).

Also, in order for Elisha to get Elijah's spirit, he must "see" Elijah being translated. Perphaps this motif is found also in Mark 6:50 "for they all saw him" and the tradition about the witnessing Jesus' ascension (Acts 1:9; perhaps Mark 16,7 "he shall be seen").

The formulation in Mark 1:24 "what have you to do with us" is found concerning Elijah in 1 Kings 17:18 in a bit of a similar context.

User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 7837
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: Elijah, Elisha, John, and Jesus.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Nov 03, 2017 5:52 am

Stefan Kristensen wrote:
Fri Nov 03, 2017 3:00 am
When some people say that John "has been raised from the dead and therefore these powers work in Jesus" (6:14), I believe this is an understanding of Mark's that applies not to John and Jesus, but to Jesus and the 'church'. People here misunderstand about Jesus, but the reader understands that this is what is going on in the 'church' now.
Yes, good point. I actually intended originally to write something similar to this in the OP, but decided to stick to "just the facts," as it were, at least for now. But I agree: I think some of those theories about Jesus and about John may have been circulating in the churches, and Mark was commenting on them.
When Jesus walks on water and wants to "pass by" (παρερχομαι) in Mark 6:48, this is likely a reference to God "passing by" (παρερχομαι) Moses in Ex 33:19, and a parallel of this is Elijah's meeting with God in 1 Kings 19:11 (παρερχομαι).
I agree with this, as well. The walking on water is essentially a theophany.
Also, in order for Elisha to get Elijah's spirit, he must "see" Elijah being translated. Perphaps this motif is found also in Mark 6:50 "for they all saw him" and the tradition about the witnessing Jesus' ascension (Acts 1:9; perhaps Mark 16,7 "he shall be seen").

The formulation in Mark 1:24 "what have you to do with us" is found concerning Elijah in 1 Kings 17:18 in a bit of a similar context.
Good points, and ones which had not occurred to me. Thank you.
ΤΙ ΕΣΤΙΝ ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ

User avatar
JoeWallack
Posts: 1298
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 8:22 pm
Contact:

Roger Waters When Jewish Pigs Fly

Post by JoeWallack » Fri Nov 03, 2017 6:57 am

JW:
I fear that "Mark" (author) has misdirected you along with the Patristics regarding the supposed importance of the relationship between JtB & JC. In the classical Greek Tragedy scene of the Transfiguration Jesus' true nature is revealed (and per Greek Tragedy only the reader/audience understands). Now Jesus speaks "plainly":

9
12 And he said unto them, Elijah indeed cometh first, and restoreth all things: and how is it written of the Son of man, that he should suffer many things and be set at nought?
13 But I say unto you, that Elijah is come, and they have also done unto him whatsoever they would, even as it is written of him.
Jesus claims prophecy fulfillment (indicating its importance), which is rare for "Mark". The fulfillment though is not that Jesus/Elijah would perform wonderful deeds but that Jesus/Elijah would be passioned. Since GMark is the original Gospel narrative which the others are based on the subsequent Gospels have relatively little evidential value other than indicating what they thought "Mark" meant. Since "Mark" is an unknown (it's wrong to take as fact that "Mark" was an orthodox Christian. He/she/them/it may have been mainly a great author, a Gnostic or even a critic of Christianity.) it's difficult to make absolute conclusions regarding what he might have meant. Much easier is making relative conclusions with subsequent authors:
  • 1) "Mark" = Elijah/Jesus Passion is prophecy fulfillment here.

    2) "Matthew" = Elijah/Jesus Passion is noted but the claim of prophecy fulfillment is exorcised.

    3) "Luke" = The whole story is exorcised.

    4) "John" = JtB is explicitly not Elijah.
As always, note the increasing movement AWAY from "Mark's" meaning as subsequent editors convert GMark into a more historical sounding narrative based more on supposed witness than Revelation.

Reading "Mark's" presentation of the significance of the JtB/Jesus relationship as mainly the parallel miracles of Elijah/Jesus is missing the Mark, just as "Mark's" Jesus' audience did and just as subsequent Patristics did.


Joseph

The New Porphyry

User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 7837
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: Roger Waters When Jewish Pigs Fly

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Nov 03, 2017 7:08 am

JoeWallack wrote:
Fri Nov 03, 2017 6:57 am
Reading "Mark's" presentation of the significance of the JtB/Jesus relationship as mainly the parallel miracles of Elijah/Jesus is missing the Mark, just as "Mark's" Jesus' audience did and just as subsequent Patristics did.
You may be right about Mark himself. But that is not to say that what preceded Mark did not place Jesus alongside Elijah/Elisha. The parallels are there; they exist, and they ought to be explained. If Mark himself (that is, the main heavy-handed editor/redactor of the gospel) did not get a lot out of those parallels, that only goes to show that they were in place before he did his thing. This is what Mark 6.15-16 and 8.27-30 lead me to suspect, anyway: people before Mark were equating Elijah/Elisha with Jesus (and with John). Mark would then be accepting this equation in part (he certainly does little to dislodge it from the narrative!), but of course pointing it (heavy-handedly, I might add) toward the passion, just like he does everything else.
ΤΙ ΕΣΤΙΝ ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ

Stefan Kristensen
Posts: 261
Joined: Wed May 24, 2017 1:54 am
Location: Denmark

Re: Roger Waters When Jewish Pigs Fly

Post by Stefan Kristensen » Sat Nov 04, 2017 12:01 am

JoeWallack wrote:
Fri Nov 03, 2017 6:57 am
Since GMark is the original Gospel narrative which the others are based on the subsequent Gospels have relatively little evidential value other than indicating what they thought "Mark" meant.
When you say "evidential value" you mean the gospels as evidence for what?

My view of gMark is that the author was the complete creator of his story. Even if he did use traditions (which he most likely did), he freely changed them in a way so they would fit into his narrative and message perfectly (like the other evangelists evidently do scrupulously with their material from Mark). In that way this very capable author, "Mark", created a perfectly coherent narrative relating exactly the message Mark wanted. Every character in the story says and does exactly what Mark wants them to say and do. Every word by Jesus is to be understood as Mark's words. Mark is the master of his Jesus-character.

With this view of Mark it is impossible to trace any historical 'tradition' and any historical Jesus in or behind the text of gMark, because the premise is there are no internal contradictions at all in the narrative. There are no passages that are foreign to the context. But if this view is correct, we must also be able to understand all the diffucult passages by trying to see the overall coherence. This means that any given passage loses some or all of its meaning if it is removed from its context within gMark.

This is the method invented by the form critics, and it is unfortunately, I think, still popular. The passages are not "pericopes", i.e. to be "cut around" and taken out of context. Then they lose their basic meaning.

User avatar
DCHindley
Posts: 2832
Joined: Mon Oct 07, 2013 9:53 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Re: Roger Waters When Jewish Pigs Fly

Post by DCHindley » Sat Nov 04, 2017 5:49 am

Stefan Kristensen wrote:
Sat Nov 04, 2017 12:01 am
This [treatment of discreet passages as "pericopes"] is the method invented by the form critics, and it is unfortunately, I think, still popular. The passages are not "pericopes", i.e. to be "cut around" and taken out of context. Then they lose their basic meaning.
I think that is a bit of an over-simplification. Aren't pericopes just discrete sense units? These sense units can be clauses, sentences, even multiple sentences as long as they seem related to a common message. We have always had the ability to "stack" pericopes to make greater sense of them, much like links to cells within a spreadsheet being used as elements in formulas, which seems to be what you are suggesting.

That being said, I do agree that form critics have gone down some sort of primrose path. I would speculate that what that path was is the expectation that all these pericopes served some sort of function in group devotions/worship. In my view, that assumes that how they were put to use by the later church is why they were written to start with.

IMHO, I would say that the gospels were written to serve rhetorical purposes, to help form narratives that "explained" how Jesus, the man executed by the Romans in a manner reserved for revolutionaries and bandits, was not *really* a revolutionary/bandit but a *sage* who spoke God's will, who was *tragically* accused and executed by the Judean authorities on account of *jealously*. Since Josephus's War and other parts of his works are full of accounts of Judean authorities on all levels stabbing each other in the back out of jealousy, the Judeans were an ideal foil for such rhetoric.

To the gospel writers, Jesus' death had a secret "meta purpose" that ultimately benefited all of mankind, if people become initiated into the Christian mysteries. It was only later that these rhetorical elements took on functions within group worship and community.

DCH :goodmorning: (I've only had one so far this morning)

User avatar
Giuseppe
Posts: 7963
Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:37 am
Location: Italy

Re: Roger Waters When Jewish Pigs Fly

Post by Giuseppe » Sat Nov 04, 2017 6:13 am

Stefan Kristensen wrote:
Sat Nov 04, 2017 12:01 am
. This means that any given passage loses some or all of its meaning if it is removed from its context within gMark.
JoeWallak wrote:. wrote: ↑Since GMark is the original Gospel narrative which the others are based on the subsequent Gospels have relatively little evidential value other than indicating what they thought "Mark" meant
Thanks for this. I would have liked very much this approach. But the assumption a priori about that approach to the our Gospels is that their authors, beyond any their possible divergence of views, agreed at least about a fact: the Father of Jesus was the Creator God. Under that common assumption, there was no reason to interpolate or mutilate strongly and in a naive way a presumed Mark First Gospel.

But when what is in question is the same identity of the Father of Jesus, it is not more a problem of who or what "Mark" thought really. It is reduced to a naive War of Religion (practiced on the same texts) not very dissimilar from more modern Religious Wars as to polemical bias, ideological rivalry etc.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

User avatar
MrMacSon
Posts: 6215
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 3:45 pm

Re: Elijah, Elisha, John, and Jesus.

Post by MrMacSon » Sat Nov 04, 2017 1:06 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Fri Oct 27, 2017 10:27 am
I am posting this thread in order to lay out (and collect more) parallels between the John/Jesus material in the gospels and the Elijah/Elisha material in the Hebrew scriptures. I believe that there are certainly deliberate parallels between these two cycles, as later Christians recognized:

Aphrahat, Demonstrations 6.13:
Our Lord testifies concerning John, that he is the greatest of the Prophets. Yet he received the Spirit by limit, because in that measure in which Elijah received the Spirit, (in the same) John obtained it. And as Elijah used to dwell in the wilderness, so also the Spirit of God led John into the wilderness, and he used to dwell in the mountains and caves. The birds sustained Elijah, and John used to eat locusts that fly. Elijah had his loins girded with a girdle of leather; so John had his loins girded with a cincture of leather. Jezebel persecuted Elijah, and Herodias persecuted John. Elijah reproved Ahab, and John reproved Herod. Elijah divided the Jordan, and John opened up baptism. The spirit of Elijah rested twofold upon Elisha, so John laid his hand on our Redeemer, and He received the Spirit not by measure. Elijah opened the heavens and ascended; and John saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit of God which descended and rested upon our Redeemer. Elisha received twofold the Spirit of Elijah; and our Redeemer received that of John and that of heaven. Elisha took the mantle of Elijah, and our Redeemer the imposition of the hand of the priests. Elisha made oil from water, and our Redeemer made wine from water. Elisha satisfied with a little bread a hundred men only; and our Redeemer satisfied with a little bread five thousand men besides children and women. Elisha cleansed Naaman the leper, and our Redeemer cleansed the ten (lepers). Elisha cursed the children and they were devoured by bears, but our Redeemer blessed the children. The children reviled Elisha, but the children glorified our Redeemer with Hosannas. Elisha cursed Gehazi his servant, and our Redeemer cursed Judas His disciple and blessed all His (other) disciples. Elisha raised to life one dead man only, but our Redeemer raised up three to life. On the bones of Elisha one dead man revived, but when our Saviour descended to the abode of the dead, He quickened many and raised them up. And many are the signs that the Spirit of Christ wrought, which the Prophets received from Him.

I want to emphasize that, while some of the parallels cleanly equate John with Elijah and Jesus with Elisha, not all do. Sometimes the parallels are more general than this, with Elijah serving as inspiration for Jesus as well as for John ...

General Patterns
Elijah ranks third (tied with Abraham) among famous Jewish heroes in terms of number of mentions by name in the gospels ...
.

I was intrigued to see Aphrahat writing like that ~337 AD, although, given the loose and debated doctrines then, it probably isn't unexpected. But it is interesting Aphrahat is writing such involved relational commentary: perhaps more elaborately described as 'inter-relational, intra-and-inter-testamentary commentary'.

I am further intrigued to see Aphrahat's wikipedia entry say -
All of his gospel quotations seem to be drawn from the Diatessaron, the gospel harmony that served the church at his time. Aphrahat's mode of biblical interpretation is strikingly similar to that of the Babylonian rabbinic academies of his day ..."

Post Reply