|Saint Gregor Mendel|
Among the prophets, few if any loom larger than Elijah. Moses the lawgiver, for sure. Christians read a lot of Isaiah, but for all around popularity, Elijah's got the edge. Consider:
|Transfigured Jesus with Elijah and Moses|
- Folks leave a seat for him at Passover seders. They pour a glass of wine for him, and leave the door open for him.
- He's revered by Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Ba'hai. He also shows up in the Holy Piby, a scripture for the proto-Rastafarian faith.
- He performed the first resurrection of the dead in the Bible.
- Lots of folktales include Elijah. For example, when dogs are happy for no reason, it is attributed to Elijah having been nearby.
- In one non-Biblical story, Lilith, Adam's homicidal first wife, was confronted by Elijah just as she was about to kill a pregnant woman and devour the child. He cursed her and would only lift the curse if she promised to grant safety to those who hung her name in their homes.
- There are several stories in which he teaches various rabbis moral and practical lessons. When rabbis reach an impasse in a theological discussion, one way of tabling it is to set the question aside until Elijah comes.
- Elijah ascended corporeally into heaven in a fiery chariot. In Malachi, his return is predicted to be the harbinger of the Messiah. Although John the Baptist denied being the incarnation of Elijah, but Jesus tells the disciples that John is the forerunner, whom they understand to be Elijah.
- In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), the linkage is less ambiguous. On April 3, 1836, Elijah dropped by the Kirtland Temple in Ohio to visit Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.
- In Eastern Europe, he is Elijah the Thunderer, who supplanted the god of rain, thunder, lightning, hail, and dew. The association may result from his antagonism to the cult of Baal, the ancient Mesopotamian god of those same phenomena.
|Resurrection of the widow's son|
As I said, he spoke truth to power, as the bumpersticker admonishes us to do. However, the truth he was speaking was that there was no room in Israel for more than one faith. The peace and prosperity that had been achieved by the marriage of Ahab and Jezebel was meaningless because God would withdraw his favor from a pluralistic, multi-cultural land which tolerated the worship of Baal and Asherah.
|Going to heaven in a fiery chariot, dropping his mantle to Elisha|
For my own part, I cannot embrace a message of religious absolutism. Theocracy is a failed ideology and those who pursue it, from Kandahar to Kansas, are shoveling sand against the tide.