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Thank you for such a wonderful article on Elias and for the clarity given to the subject. You have given me increased perspectives on the linkage of Mount Sinai and the experiences of Moses, Elijah, Nephi, John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, James & John, and Paul.
Thank you for the time and effort that you have freely given.
Thank you for your comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of those prophets. It seems like Elias’ influence keeps expanding (in my understanding) the more I look for him in the scriptures.
If you will send me your e-mail address I will send you an explanation of my remarks. Or you can wait till my additional commentary on Ether 12 is posted on my website in the coming weeks.
Thank you for this article – I enjoyed reading it.
I do have one question. Keys were given on The Mount of Transfiguration and Moses and Elijah had been translated so that they could physically lay their hands on the recipient(s). How could John the Baptist bestow keys as he was neither translated or resurrected?
Steve, that’s a thought provoking question. I don’t have a good answer for that! Except to refer to the D&C verse that says we don’t have a fullness of the record of the Mount of Transfiguration.
Good question. The scriptures indicates that John the Baptist was there at Mount of Transfiguration and was conversing with Christ but does not state that he transferred keys at that time, and he probably didn’t need to. He had baptized Jesus and probably Peter, James, and John, and may have transferred his keys to them in the flesh.
The keys of the Preparatory Priesthood were given to Aaron, by Moses. John the Baptist’s father, Zacharias, was the High Priest of this priesthood and it may be that the keys of it were never lost.
Correction: John the Baptist, “was ordained by the angel of God at the time he was eight days old unto this power,” (D&C 84:28)
The “angel of God” in this case must be Gabriel (Noah) who had previously appeared to Zacharias. Maybe Noah didn’t die, but was translated?
Excellent research and excellent presentation!
You could have added more emphasis of Joseph Smith’s role as an Elias. For example, your following citation could also apply directly to Joseph:
“wherefore, he crieth unto the four angels having the everlasting gospel, saying: Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And, if you will receive it, this is Elias which was to come to gather together the tribes of Israel and restore all things.” (D&C 77:9)
Notice that it states that, “…this is [the] Elias which was to come to gather together the tribes of Israel and restore all things.”
Yes, that is a good application of that scripture. In D&C 27, there is a chain of action shown between Elias (Noah), Elias (John the Baptist) and Joseph Smith—each giving the keys to the next, which I think furthers the point of Joseph Smith being “an Elias”, though, The Elias, the angel in heaven directing the other angels to gather, probably refers to Gabriel (since Joseph Smith was the one on earth writing down the revelation).
Your article was wonderful and thought-provoking. Riffing off of Theodore’s comments, the Church Fathers had some interesting perspectives on Elias.
Hyppolytus comments, “For as two advents of our Lord and Savior are indicated in the scriptures, the one being his first advent in the flesh, which took place without honor….But his second advent is announced as glorious, when he shall come from heaven with the host of angels, and the glory of his Father….Thus also two forerunners were indicated. The first was John, the son of Zacharias, who appeared in all things a forerunner….The Savior is to be manifested again at the of the world as Judge. It is a matter of course that his forerunners must appear first, as he says, by Malachi and the angel. “I will send you Elias the Tishbite before the day of the Lord, the great and notable day, comes: and he sall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, lest I come and smite the earth utterly.” (Hyppolytus, Treatise on Christ and Anit-Christ 44-46, AnteNicene Fathers 5:214)
John Chrysostom also commented on the correlation of John the Baptist as a forerunner with a second forerunner, “As John was the forerunner of the first coming, so will Elias be the forerunner of the second coming…Christ called John Elias on account of his performing the same office.” (John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew 37:4)
To top it off, Parley P. Pratt saw Joseph Smith as the fulfillment of the forerunner for the second advent of the Savior. “And that great Prophet, Apostle and martyr, Joseph Smith, was the Elias, the restorer, the presiding messenger, holding the keys of the ‘dispensation of the fullness of times.’ Yes, that extraordinary man, whose innocent blood is yet dripping, as it were, from the hand of assassins and their accessories in the United States, as was the chosen vessel honored of God, and ordained by angels, to ordain other Apostles an Elders, to restore the Church and Kingdom of God, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and to be a messenger in the spirit and power of Elijah, to prepare the way of the Lord. ‘For behold, He will suddenly come to his temple.’ Like John, who fulfilled a similar mission preparatory to the first advent of the Son of God, he baptized with water unto repentance, for the remission of sins, like him, he was imprisoned; and, like him, his life was taken from the earth; and, finally, like all other true messengers, his message is being demonstrated by its progressive fulfillment, the power, gifts, and signs following the administrations of his message in all the world, and every minute particular of his predictions fulfilling in the order of events as wheels of time bring them due.” (Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology, p. 80)
Thanks, Robert. I agree that it’s great to see Jan’s work here, and also thank you for sharing your related thoughts. You make a very clear case that “Joseph Smith knew that OT Elijah and NT Elias were the same person” and that the claim blundered in a statement mentioning both is without foundation. Thanks for that contribution.
Nice to see work on “Elias” in JS’ revelations. Just fwiw, I have done some work on this, such as:
Hello! Thank you for sharing that link, those are interesting arguments that I would like to unpack a little bit–
First of all, I appreciate your defense of Joseph Smith, that he knew what he was talking about and wasn’t ignorant, as most of his critics like to make him out to be.
To take that confidence in Joseph Smith up a level, he was the one who saw the angels, talked with them, knew their specific keys and callings. If he said there was an Elijah and an Elias, I’m fine with believing him. We are all on board with the Father and the Son being two separate beings because he saw them–why do we not afford him the same confidence in this situation? Because the words mean the same thing? Because linguists and scholars have decided there could only be one Elijah/Elias? I appreciate your conclusion that Joseph was differentiating two people with identical names, and I find that to be plausible. I also wonder if there is a Hebrew name, for example: Eliasaph (God is Gatherer) and Eliashib (God will Restore) both contain the root “Elias” and happen to correspond with his keys in a beautiful way.
The internal congruency of the standard works on the existence of a separate Elias (who holds the keys of the preparatory priesthood–not the sealing keys of Elijah, according to Joseph Smith), stands on its own.
The quote from Joseph Smith from the Times and Seasons about how James said that Elias (Elijah) was a man subject. . . clearly refers to the prophet Elijah, but doesn’t negate the existence of a separate person called Elias. Just in that instance, he was clarifying the Elias in that verse was Elijah.
I love the quote from Joseph Fielding Smith identifying Elias as Noah, and your other resources. Thank you for sharing.