Elijah or ancient prophets (Lk 9:8-9:8)

“Some others said

That Elijah had appeared.

Others said

That one of the ancient prophets

Had risen.”

 

ὑπό τινων δὲ ὅτι Ἡλείας ἐφάνη, ἄλλων δὲ ὅτι προφήτης τις τῶν ἀρχαίων ἀνέστη.

 

Luke said that some people said Jesus was the appearance of Elijah (ὑπό τινων δὲ ὅτι Ἡλείας ἐφάνη).  Others said that Jesus was one of the ancient prophets who had risen (ἄλλων δὲ ὅτι προφήτης τις τῶν ἀρχαίων ἀνέστη).  There was nothing about this speculation in Matthew.  However, Mark, chapter 6:15, had something similar, almost word for word.  Some people said that Jesus was Elijah.  Still others said that he was a prophet, like the former ancient prophets.  Elijah was a 9th century BCE northern Israelite prophet whose work can be found in the Old Testament Books of 1 Kings, 2 Kings, and 1 Chronicles.  There was no doubt that the role of Elijah dominated late Jewish thought at the time of Jesus, with his name appearing around John the Baptist, the transfiguration, and the death of Jesus.  The prophets were the holy men of Hebrew scripture who brought the word of Yahweh to his people.  Who would you compare Jesus to?

He will be like Elijah (Lk 1:17-1:17)

“With the spirit

And power

Of Elijah,

He will go

Before the Messiah.

He will turn

The hearts

Of parents

To their children.

He will turn

The disobedient

To the wisdom

Of the righteous.

He will

Make ready

A people

Prepared for the Lord.”

 

καὶ αὐτὸς προελεύσεται ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ ἐν πνεύματι καὶ δυνάμει Ἡλεία, ἐπιστρέψαι καρδίας πατέρων ἐπὶ τέκνα καὶ ἀπειθεῖς ἐν φρονήσει δικαίων, ἑτοιμάσαι Κυρίῳ λαὸν κατεσκευασμένον.

 

Luke then introduced the concept of Elijah to this new child. The role of Elijah can be found also in Mark, chapter 9:11, as well as in Matthew, chapter 17:11, where the disciples of Jesus asked him why the Scribes said that Elijah the prophet had to come first.  The prophet Malachi, chapter 4:5, had also foretold the coming of Elijah.  Malachi had said that Yahweh was going to send the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of Yahweh would come.  Jesus did not disagree with this comment.  He responded by reiterating that Elijah was indeed coming to restore all things.  There was no doubt about the role of Elijah, a 9th century BCE northern Israel prophet, as in the Elijah cycle in 1 Kings, chapter 17-19.  He dominated late Jewish thought.  In Matthew, Jesus had a clear link of Elijah to John the Baptist, since he was the new Elijah.  Here Luke said that this child would precede or go first before the Lord (καὶ αὐτὸς προελεύσεται ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ).  He would have the spirit and the power of Elijah (ἐν πνεύματι καὶ δυνάμει Ἡλεία).  Then he would turn the hearts of parents to their children (ἐπιστρέψαι καρδίας πατέρων ἐπὶ τέκνα), as well as turn the disobedient ones into wise righteous ones (καὶ ἀπειθεῖς ἐν φρονήσει δικαίων).  He would prepare people to be disposed to get ready for the Lord (ἑτοιμάσαι Κυρίῳ λαὸν κατεσκευασμένον), by teaching about repentance and restoring families.  This child was going to be the forerunner for the Messiah, since all the prophets and the law had predicted this right up until the time of this child John.

Elijah restores things (Mk 9:12-9:12)

“Jesus said to them.

‘Elijah is indeed

Coming first

To restore all things.”

 

ὁ δὲ ἔφη αὐτοῖς Ἡλείας μὲν ἐλθὼν πρῶτον ἀποκαθιστάνει πάντα·

 

The role of Elijah can be found also in Matthew, chapter 17:11, as well as here in Mark.  Mark said that Jesus did not disagree with the Scribes.  He responded to his disciples (ὁ δὲ ἔφη αὐτοῖς) by reiterating that Elijah was indeed coming first to restore all things (Ἡλείας μὲν ἐλθὼν πρῶτον ἀποκαθιστάνει πάντα).  There is no doubt that the role of Elijah, a 9th century BCE northern Israel prophet, dominated late first century Jewish thought.

Jesus and Elijah (Mk 6:15-6:15)

But others said.

‘He is Elijah.’

Still others said.

‘He is a prophet,

Like one of the prophets.”

 

ἄλλοι δὲ ἔλεγον ὅτι Ἡλείας ἐστίν· ἄλλοι δὲ ἔλεγον ὅτι προφήτης ὡς εἷς τῶν προφητῶν.

 

There is nothing like this in Matthew, but in Luke, chapter 9:8, there is something similar, almost word for word.  But others said (ἄλλοι δὲ ἔλεγον) that Jesus was Elijah (ὅτι Ἡλείας ἐστίν).  Still others said (ἄλλοι δὲ ἔλεγον) that he was a prophet, like the former prophets (ὅτι προφήτης ὡς εἷς τῶν προφητῶν).  Elijah was a 9th century BCE northern Israelite prophet whose work can be found in the Old Testament Books of 1 Kings, 2 Kings, and 1 Chronicles.  There was no doubt that the role of Elijah dominated late Jewish thought at the time of Jesus, with his name appearing around John the Baptist, the transfiguration, and the death of Jesus.  The prophets were the holy men of the Old Testament who brought the word of Yahweh to his people.

The role of Elijah (Mt 17:10-17:11)

“The disciples asked Jesus.

‘Why then do

The Scribes say.

That Elijah must come first?’

Jesus replied.

‘Elijah is indeed coming.

He will restore all things.’”

 

Καὶ ἐπηρώτησαν αὐτὸν οἱ μαθηταὶ λέγοντες Τί οὖν οἱ γραμματεῖς λέγουσιν ὅτι Ἡλείαν δεῖ ἐλθεῖν πρῶτον;

ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν Ἡλείας μὲν ἔρχεται καὶ ἀποκαταστήσει πάντα·

 

The role of Elijah can be found also in Mark, chapter 9:11, as well as here in Matthew.  The disciples of Jesus asked, questioned or interrogated him (Καὶ ἐπηρώτησαν αὐτὸν οἱ μαθηταὶ λέγοντες) about why the Scribes (Τί οὖν οἱ γραμματεῖς) said that Elijah had to come first (λέγουσιν ὅτι Ἡλείαν δεῖ ἐλθεῖν πρῶτον).  The prophet Malachi, chapter 4:5, had also foretold the coming of Elijah.  He said that Yahweh was going to send the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of Yahweh would come.  These Scribes were contemporary religious experts who determined the traditions to be followed.  They were professional copiers of manuscript documents, although they had a wider role in Jewish society.  Jesus did not disagree with this comment.  He responded (ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν) by reiterating that Elijah was indeed coming to restore all things (Ἡλείας μὲν ἔρχεται καὶ ἀποκαταστήσει πάντα).  There is no doubt that the role of Elijah, a 9th century BCE northern Israel prophet, dominated late Jewish thought.

 

Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Over a thousand years later, Martin Luther, a German Augustinian religious monk and Roman Catholic priest at Wittenberg appeared.  He was a bible scholar, so that biblical influences dominated him and his followers.  The epistles of Paul showed that righteousness was a gift that was not earned.  Faith alone, not works or even indulgences to be used in purgatory, was necessary for salvation.  In 1517, he posted his printed objections, since half a century earlier the printing press had been invented.  He translated and published the New Testament in German, so that people could read the Bible themselves.  This led to the Protestant Reformation, which actually maintained many of the medieval Catholic practices.  The Counter Reformation resulted in the Roman Catholic Council of Trent.  Instead of just accepting being excommunicated, these protesters formed their own community in northern Germany and Scandinavia.  Other groups also broke off from the Roman Catholic Church.

Different printed Bibles

The early bibles had to be copied by hand in manuscript form, since there was no printing press until the 15th century.  The classic Bible of the middle ages was the 4th century Latin Vulgate translation of St. Jerome.  The first book ever printed in the 15th century was the Latin Bible.  In the 16th century, the various translations began to appear, the most famous being the German New Testament translation of Martin Luther.  The English, under King James I (1603-1625) decided to set up a committee to translate the Bible into Elizabethan English.  They finished their task in 1611.  The King James Bible became the only authorized Bible in the English language and has dominated the American religious scene, because of its use among the American Puritans.  The Roman Catholics produced an English Douay-Rheims translation of the Bible in France about the same, in 1609-1610.