So the other day I did something I usually don’t like doing… engaging in the comment section of a news post. I had an exchange (I won’t even call it a discussion since the two “Christians” were less than charitable) that got into Mary’s assumption. One person said right off the bat, to not even mention Elijah or Enoch because the parallels aren’t valid, saying:
“The myths of Enoch and Elijah don’t prove anything. The individuals probably never existed and the stories about them probably have little, if any basis in fact.” He then went on to say something quite ridiculous when I asked him if he was even a Christian, saying, “Christianity does not require belief in the factual validity of Hebrew mythology.”
I then mentioned the Transfiguration, where Elijah appeared with our Lord, to which he had no direct reply. Then the other person chimes in with:
“Elijah went up in a chariot - laughable. Elijah didn’t die - Mary is said to have. Does that make Elijah one step holier than Mary? It’s all made up stories. Have you ever read the background? More smoke and mirrors. It’s so ridiculous it can’t be taken seriously.”
So here’s my question? Does anyone know a good source, or know off hand, the historicity of the two Books of Kings, specifically the passage where Elijah is taken up in the chariot? As a Catholic, I’ve never heard any interpretation other than that this was to be taken literally. I understand that the author of Kings took some liberties with the story, as these Books are not to be taken as straight history. But it seems like these two persons seem to doubt in anything spiritual as many Biblical scholars seem to in this age. If one thinks the story of Elijah is “smoke and mirrors” then what does one, as a Christian, call the story of Christ’s death and Resurrection?
I found this on the USCCB’s site regarding the passage with Elijah and the chariot, which I assume is taken from the NAB:
The story of Elisha’s succession to Elijah’s prophetic office is oddly set between the death of Ahaziah (1:17) and the accession of his successor (3:1). The effect is to place this scene, which is the central scene in the whole of 1–2 Kings, outside of time.** It thereby becomes almost mythic in its import **and reminds us that, behind the transitory flow of kings and kingdoms, stand the eternal word of God and the prophets who give it voice. Just as 1–2 Kings pivots on this chapter, so this scene too is concentrically constructed. Together Elijah and Elisha journey to Bethel, thence to Jericho, and thence across the Jordan. There Elijah is taken up in the whirlwind and Elijah’s mantle of power comes to Elisha. Now alone, Elisha crosses the Jordan again, returns to Jericho and thence back to Bethel.
So does the Church have an official stance on the story of Elijah? Is there actually an interpretation saying all of this was allegorical, because I’ve seen no evidence of that.
I’m just curious to know where these two got there information, and how to debunk it as I’ve always believed (and still do until otherwise shown) that the “assumption” of Elijah was literal. Would that be the Church’s interpretation?