[quote=cassman]What about Limbo of the Fathers? Has anyone heard of that?
How could Elijah have gone to Heaven if Jesus had not yet opened the gates to Heaven?
“Heaven” may have meant “sky”. Elijah may have just gone up into the sky, not necessarily Heaven?
I’m not for certain though.
The story may be a legend - the chariot is a hint in this direction. Both Baal, the “rider-of-the-clouds”, and JHWH, ride in the heavenly chariot - and it’s hard to see why a human being would be described with divine attributes such as chariot and cloud (which is a frequent OT symbol of the Glory of God’s Presence).
It’s also very striking the Elijah comes from a place called Tishbe - the name recalls that of Teshub, a Hittite god of storm and weather-god: which means that he has many of the same “responsibilities” as Baal and JHWH. So there does seem to be a lot of legendary material in the stories about Elijah - which is not to say they are untrue; only that they are not “historical”. Elijah is shown constantly besting Baal at his own game - he raises the dead, promises a son to a woman, prevents the rain from falling, calls down the lightning, slaughters Baal’s prophets. All of these activities are known from various texts, though not all are recorded as being done by Baal. So it’s entirely fitting that he should ride in Baal’s cloud-chariot.
And the reason Elijah does all this, is to make the point that JHWH the god of Israel is more than a match for Baal, who was one of the principal gods of Canaan & Tyre & Sidon - Jezebel the wife of Ahab, and enemy of Elijah, was a Sidonian princess. [1 Kings 16:31] ##