I am building on a previous question located here.

I am not satisfied with the answers to the question and want to ask specifically if the text describing the manner in which Enoch and Elijah went to heaven are actually different than how Jesus went to heaven?

My thought was this - John 3:13 specifically says 'ascended'. Enoch and Elijah were taken up. Doesn't the word 'ascended' imply that Jesus himself earned his way or by his own power took himself to heaven? While on the surface it appears to be a contradiction between the New and Old testament that in fact Jesus is the only being to ascend (by his own power) into heaven?

Do Hebrew or Greek text support this concept, or is it just me forcing my own thoughts into the explanation?

Reference Text:

John 3:13-14 (KJV) (Jesus said) “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:”

Gen 5:22-24 (KJV) And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: 23 And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: 24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

2 Kings 2:11 (KJV) And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

  • Jesus says this: "[17] Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. [18] No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father." -- John 10:17-18 (KJV) You are not coercing the text in any way. Neither Enoch, nor Elijah, nor any other man has such power and authority. – enegue May 7 '17 at 10:57
  • +1, I think. And, I voted to leave open - assuming the best case: If your question leads to "Do the underlying texts demonstrate clear 'active' or 'passive' verb tenses?", (Where someone is acting, or being acted upon), then I think this is a very straightforward - simple - question to answer. However, if you are headed in a different direction then, I think this is unclear - or at least a duplicate of the question you are referencing. – elika kohen Sep 26 '17 at 16:19

In terms of physical motion Jesus ascended Space-X style and is was slated to return in Space-X style (within the next 40 years as described in Jeremiah 33 and Zechariah 14). However, the Greek of "taken up" is in the passive indicating that he was drawn, as if by a heavenly tractor-beam:

http://biblehub.com/text/acts/1-9.htm

John 3:13 uses a different Koine word in the active voice (hence the question) but since it points to event described in Acts 1:9 must be understood that he did so under God's power, not his own.

http://biblehub.com/text/john/3-13.htm

The passive word "taken up" is used for an inanimate anchor as well as a lifeless corpse:

Act_20:9  And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. ... Act_27:40  And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoised up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore.

"To the Hebrews" reads from the LXX (Koine Greek) Enoch's experience which uses a different word altogether so there is no reason to think it was accomplished in the same fashion.

Elijah's flight is described as being accomplished by a divine whirlwind. The NT makes no mention of a whirlwind in connection with Jesus' ascension so there is a notable difference. And has been pointed out, his flight was apparently more local since he is involved in local politics later on in his life.

So to answer your question Jesus' flight, while an action by God and not a self-powered flight was in fact unique and it was only he that went all the way up to where God was, there to sit at God's right hand.

The contradiction disappears if neither Enoch nor Elijah went to heaven. Genesis says God took Enoch away, but nobody knows where. The passage doesn't say he was taken to heaven. Where ever he was taken, he eventually died like all men do. The Epistle to the Hebrews also confirms that Enoch eventually died.

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God...

...These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." Hebrews 11:5 & 13

The author says that every man he just described has died. Enoch was one of the first humans and surrounded by people who would eventually live for hundreds of years. If God took him somewhere that he would be alone, it would mean he never witnessed a death.

Elijah was taken up into the heavens by a chariot of fire, but this was not some inter-dimensional world. He was simply taken into the sky and transported somewhere else. After Elijah was "taken into the heavens", he writes a letter to Jehoram:

In his days the Edomites revolted from under the dominion of Judah, and made themselves a king.

Then Jehoram went forth with his princes, and all his chariots with him: and he rose up by night, and smote the Edomites which compassed him in, and the captains of the chariots.

So the Edomites revolted from under the hand of Judah unto this day. The same time also did Libnah revolt from under his hand; because he had forsaken YHVH God of his fathers.

Moreover he made high places in the mountains of Judah, and caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit fornication, and compelled Judah thereto.

And there came a writing to him from Elijah the prophet, saying, Thus saith YHVH God of David thy father, Because thou hast not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat thy father, nor in the ways of Asa king of Judah,

But hast walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and hast made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to go a whoring, like to the whoredoms of the house of Ahab, and also hast slain thy brethren of thy father's house, which were better than thyself:

Behold, with a great plague will YHVH smite thy people, and thy children, and thy wives, and all thy goods:

And thou shalt have great sickness by disease of thy bowels, until thy bowels fall out by reason of the sickness day by day." 2 Chronicles 21:8-15

Yeshua is the only human that has ascended into heaven.

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    I'm not so sure we can assume Enoch died. While the passage may not say Enoch was taken to heaven, it doesn't say he died either. In all of Genesis, every forefather, from Adam through to Joseph, clearly died; the only exception is Enoch. – John Martin May 7 '17 at 13:38
  • @JohnMartin Enoch didn't go to heaven/wherever by his own power, he was taken. A chariot was sent to pick up Elijah. Jesus, as he says himself, took up his life again by the power that was given to him before he died. This is what distinguishes him from the others. He died completely confident that he could defeat death, and his confidence was vindicated. What he did for himself, he will do for those who have the same confidence in what he gives them, that he had in what the Father gave him. – enegue May 7 '17 at 22:58
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    @enegue I believe Enoch and Elijah were taken by God whereas Jesus ascended on His own. – John Martin May 8 '17 at 2:00
  • +1, because of the textual merit underlying the answer, though I think its not a "strong" answer - in the "validity" sense. So, I added another question to tackle that presupposition elsewhere, "Did Enoch Actually Die?". In Hebrews - in the same context - it says that "Enoch did not taste death", so it seems pretty straightforward. But, I hope you can explain your conclusion in more detail. – elika kohen Sep 26 '17 at 16:26

In Hebrews 11:5, Enoch is described [Stephens 1550 Text and AV] as being "translated", metatithemi.

My understanding of both the Greek, and the archaic use of the word "translation", to be a matter of transposing (Young's Concordance) or re-positioning (my own word).

He was re-positioned at a time which, in the context of longevity at the time, was long before his natural time of decease.

Nigel.

  • Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted. – James Shewey Sep 26 '17 at 17:02
  • Edited to avoid dispute. – Nigel J Sep 26 '17 at 19:00
  • Thanks, but the issue is more that this answer doesn't show it's work which is usually required. So, for example, cite young's concordance. Provide an excerpt of a lexicon for metatithemi. Are there any scholars that take this position? cite them too. – James Shewey Sep 26 '17 at 19:17
  • Appreciate your input. Still on a learning curve. – Nigel J Sep 26 '17 at 20:03

There is an interesting piece of text in this regard in the 3rd part of the old Latin version of the Gesta Salvatoris (aka Evangelium Nicodemi). Although that piece is nowadays regarded as spurious or just another apocryphic “literary composition” of an unknown 4th to 6th century author by all scholars, there are many passages and expressions that lead me to believe that we have elements here of an older version about what happened before, during and after the Savior’s resurrection, that has somehow escaped the early censorship which might have been applied to certain sections of the canonical gospels.

Whereas various characters in the Gesta Salvatoris testify of seeing Jesus ascend into heaven -and the normal gospel expression “vidimus eum ascendentem in caelum > we saw him ascending into heaven” is used - at the end of part three Enoch and Helias appear in paradise after Christ had brought up the dead there from Hades, the lower world.

Enoch then says:

Ego sum Enoch, qui verbo DN̅i hic sum translatus; iste autem qui mecum est, Helias est Thesbites, qui curru igneo hic est adsumptus. > I am Enoch who has been transported here by the word of the LORD, but that one who is here with me, is Elias who was taken here by (means of) a fiery chariot (or vehicle).”

After shortly talking about their future battle with the Antichrist (as in the book of Rev.), the text continues:

“postque triduum & dimidium diei, iterum vivi in nubibus assumendi. > after three and a half days, being alive again, to be taken up into the clouds.”

Up to here, the text with respect to the physical ascension does not very much deviate from other known canonical passages, leaving one to wonder though what the nature of that “currus igneus” really is. But towards the end of the twin brothers Karinus’ and Leutius’ account things are getting more explicit. The text is corroborated by the oldest manuscripts of the Gesta Salvatoris.

Here the brothers talk about the dead that had been resurrected by the Savior and were permitted to celebrate his resurrection with their parents living on earth for three days:

"Quia tantum tres dies permissi sumus, qui resurreximus a mortuis, celebrare in Hierusalem pascha DN̅i cum viventibus parentibus nostris, in testimonium resurrectionis XP̅i DN̅i; et baptizati sumus in Sc̅o Iordanis flumine, accipientes singuli stolas albas. Et post tres dies celebrantes pascha DN̅i, rapti sunt a nubibus omnes qui nobiscum resurrexerunt; & perducti sunt trans Iordanen, & iam a nemine visi sunt. > as we, who were resurrected from the dead, are only permitted to celebrate the Pascha of the Lord with our living parents for three days, bearing testimony to the resurrection of Christ the Lord. And we are baptized in the holy river Jordan, each receiving a white robe. And after three days of celebrating the Pascha of the Lord, they who were resurrected with us (Karinus and Leutius), are taken away by clouds, and are led away across the (river) Jordan, and no (more) seen by anyone.”

Only the later Paris codex BNF 3784 has replaced the preposition “a” with “in”. Einsiedeln SBE 324 has an even weirder variant:

“ ... reper(ti) sunt a nubibus, omnes qui nobiscum resurrexerunt, & perducti sunt trans Iordanem, & iam a nemine visi sunt. > were spotted / found out by (the) clouds and led away .. "

People may say that those are scribal errors in earlier manuscripts that have been copied down, but I am not so sure. If you connect that to Acts 1, 9 “et nubes suscepit eum”, one begins to wonder what the heck those clouds were.

One explanation is to give to the reader a pleasant image in which Christ is gracefully lifted up, blending gently with some kind of mist, which a cloud is in the last analysis, but that image is in stark contrast to the use of the verb “rapere” in the Gesta which means to take away by force. In the end you are left with your very own ideas you have about hell, paradise and heaven, and early public air transport.

For the agnostic things are abundantly clear, but for somebody who believes the resurrection to be a real thing, the ascension we are going to celebrate tomorrow becomes either a metaphysical or an astrophysical problem. It must also be said that the resurrected dead in the Gesta do appear to possess bodies that are not entirely material. In my opinion, Were all this a made-up story, one would expect them to be described as having normal bodies.

Update:

"fiery chariots" The passage in 2 Kings 2,11 should also be read in the version of the LXX, which is quite different to the Hebrew text. In fact the whole chapter is pretty astonishing. There is a good English translation by Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton which most people in the U.S. possess who are interested in the subject. It is a very precise translation, as far as I can judge. I am using the Latin translation by cardinal Ximenez, Rome 1588, which has a good apparatus, although I understand the translation is based in large part on the Greek Text of the codex Vaticanus.

In what concerns the Gesta Salvatoris, the only passage in the New Testament that refers to the dead being risen after the Lord’s resurrection is found in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 27, 51b – 53. This theme is picked up in the Gesta Salvatoris, but since this piece itself is not a canonical text, the moderator may well delete my post, as I did not realize that only passages from the canonical scriptures may be quoted from on this platform.

On the other hand, had the evangelists known in their own time that most of material they did not include in the gospels for reasons of space and conciseness would later be regarded as not genuine they might have attempted to enlarge their accounts considerably.

Reference text:

Gospel of Matthew, Old Latin Codex Vercellensis, edition Gasquet; Chapter 27 (there are few variants in this portion of text with respect to modern recensions)

“51b [Et ter]raemotum factum est magnum et petrae fissae sunt! 52. Et monumenta patefacta sunt, et mult(a) corp(or)a sanctorum dormi(ent)ium sur(re)xerunt. 53 Et (ex)euntes de (m)onumen(tis p)ost resur(recti)onem ipsius uene(runt) in sanc(tam) civitatem (et mul)tis appa(ruerunt)“

51b "And a massive earthquake took place and rocks were rent asunder. 52. And graves were opened, and many bodies of believers who had passed away were risen. 53. Leaving the graves after the resurrection of Him they came into the holy city and appeared unto many.

Tyndale 1526 ".. and the earth did quake, and the stones did rent, and graves did open, and the bodies of many saints which slept, arose; and came out of their graves after his resurrection, and came into the holy city, and appeared unto many"

In what concerns the question that Mr. Heeg poses, it appears difficult to judge from scripture alone what the metaphysical implications are for his question. The chapter in II Kings is a good example. Either one interprets the events told therein as mere tales or one believes them to have taken place in the way they are described in text. In the latter case a number of problems arise that cannot be solved with the help of biblical texts alone.

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    Welcome to BH. Please take a few moments to Tour the site here: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/tour. I've set off para. for easier readability, and italicized certain quotes to separate them from your comments. But, as the material relies upon non-canonical apocrypha it cannot be considered Biblical Hermeneutics. This site is concerned with exegesis of the scriptures. Can you support this position from within the scriptures? – Gina May 10 at 12:54
  • Thank you very much for the formatting, Gina! I'll read the guidelines and will come back. Yours, Mischa – Mischa Markert May 10 at 13:48

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