Elijah, Apocalypse of

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ELIJAH, APOCALYPSE OF , apocryphal work. In the Stiehometry of Nicephorus, a Christian list of biblical books and Apocrypha generally dated to the middle of the sixth century, there is the item, "Of the Prophet Elias, 316 stichoi." Similar references are found in other early Christian lists and the List of 60 Books gives the title as The Apocalypse of Elias. The existence of such a work is confirmed by Origen's comment that the verse in i Corinthians 2:9 (Commentary to Matthew 27:9) is from the Apocalypse of Elias the Prophet. A similar claim is made by other Church Fathers, but Jerome, a great opponent of all apocryphal books, denies it vigorously (Epistula lvii [ad Pammachium], 9). This same verse is quoted in the Ascension of Isaiah 11:34, definitely from i Corinthians and perhaps independently in Pseudo-Philo (Antiquitatum biblicarum liber 26:13), Clement of Alexandria (Protrepticus 10:94), and elsewhere. Likewise, some ancient sources attribute a quotation in Ephesians 5:14 to the same source (cf. Schuerer, Gesch, vol. 3, 361ff.).

Two Latin documents containing quotations from the Apocalypse of Elijah have been discovered, one of particular interest (de Bruyne, in Revue Benedictine (1908), 146ff.), presenting a description of the torments in Hell. A similar revelation is shown by Elijah to R. Joshua b. Levi in the Chronicles of Jeraḥmeel (ed. by M. Gaster (1899), 34ff.). De Bruyne published additional Latin materials relevant to the Apocalypse of Elijah in Revue Benedictine in 1925. There are also two later Apocalypse of Elijah. One, in Coptic, first published by G. Steindorff in 1899 (there is a 1981 edition: The Apocalypse of Elijah, based on Pap. Chester Beatty 2018: Coptic text, ed. and transl. by A. Pietersma and S. Turner Comstock, with H.W. Attridge), probably preserves a considerable body of older Jewish apocalyptic material, including descriptions of the Antichrist. Similar descriptions are also to be found in the Hebrew Sefer Eliyahu, a work edited with an explanation in German by M. Buttenwieser (1897), who discerned in it an apocalypse written about 260 c.e. with later, supplementary materials. A description of the Antichrist is also found in quotations attributed to the Apocalypse of Elijah in the fragments published by F. Nau in Journal Asiatique in 1917 (Ilesérie, tome 9, p. 453ff.).


In addition to that cited above see M.R. James, Lost Apocrypha of the Old Testament (1920), 53–61; and dbi, Supplement 1 (1928), 456–8, both with bibliographies.

[Michael E. Stone]