Saturday, February 2, 2008

Elijah, Elias, Isaiah, Esaias

It has been noted that in LDS scripture there is sometimes made a distinction between Isaiah and Esaias as well as Elijah and Elias. "Elias" is consistently used as a title for someone who prepares the way for the coming of the Lord. Thus in the Bible John is referred to as "Elias." (See http://en.fairmormon.org/Elias_and_Elijah_at_the_Kirtland_Temple for more information on the use of Elias in the Church)


As far as Isaiah goes, the Hebrew name Yesha'yah[u] (transliterated as Isaiah) appears in the Bible on many occasions, but is used to denote different individuals other than the prophet who authored the Book of Isaiah. These names are rendered Esaias in the Greek Septuagint, and are rendered Isaiah, Jesiah and Jesaiah in the KJV and many other translations of the Old Testament. In the passages in LDS scripture (apart from the Bible) that refer to Esaiah, it is possible that Joseph Smith was using a different transliteration of the Semitic name to differentiate one Isaiah from another. Indeed, we have many New Testament parallels in translation literature, such as the Jude/Judas variant in the New Testament where the translators chose to use "Jude" in an attempt to distinguish from "Judas" who betrayed Jesus.


In the nineteenth century, "Elias" was used rather generically to denote a forerunner. Alexander Campbell, in Delusions used it in the same fashion as did Joseph Smith:


The Jews gave up their business and attended to him. He obtained one Nathan in Jerusalem to pass for his Elias, or forerunner.
(www.lds-mormon.com/campbell.shtml)

In many places, the Lord says that the revelations received by Joseph Smith were put into his own language according to his own understanding.(See D&C 67:5). It is likely, therefore, that he would have used "Elias" as a name-title for forerunners.

The Elias in D&C 27 seems to be Noah, who Joseph Smith identified with the angel Gabriel, and could well be the same as the one in D&C 110 (in section 27, Elias [clearly Gabriel/Noah from the context] was promised to bestow keys of authority. This may have been fulfilled as recorded in D&C 110).

I hope this adds some helpful information to this somewhat difficult question.

4 comments:

chad said...

That clears it up a bit....

And rvelations given to someone under their own understanding makes sense as well - I have used that line of thought with the BoM while reasoning out whay Christ, Baptism and other "Christian/Greek" Terms would be used so early on in BoM history...

Andrew Miller said...

These are obviously some of the more difficult issues, in my opinion. However, it creates a real paradox for those who choose not to believe. How is it that Joseph Smith could be so intelligent and brilliant in creating a religion and restoring ancient concepts on the one hand, but so foolish on the other to think that Elias could be a name for more than one individual, etc?

chad said...

I ride that line in my prayers and thinking...it's not so black and white is it?

Andrew Miller said...

No, it's really not. As a believer, there are certain things that sometimes are difficult to understand. I generally "shelf" them until I find some sort of solution. Slowly but surely I find solutions. Some may not have solutions in this life.

On the other hand, there are many things that help strengthen my belief. A big part of this blog is to share these things with others. I think there is a lot of evidence for believing these things to be true, but there isn't so much evidence that a person has to believe. I think faith can't grow in a vacuum without evidence, but on the other hand it wouldn't be faith without somethings that give room for doubt. It wouldn't be faith at all if there were no obstacles.

"And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith." (Ether 12:6)

I look forward to the day when I shall receive that sure knowledge, seeing the Lord face to face (whether in this life or in death). One thing is for sure, however, that such a witness only comes to those who believe without seeing first.

I'd encourage you to check out Alma 32 on this issue of faith and how a person can move from wanting to believe or know to having a sure knowledge.