§ 70. The Second Coming of Elijah

Critique of the Gospel History of the Synoptics
by Bruno Bauer

Volume 3



§ 70.

The Second Coming of Elijah.

Mark 9, 11 – 13.

The omission of the conversation between Jesus and the disciples about Elijah was filled by Luke in a strange way, that he let the Lord leave the mountain the following day (Luke 9, 37). Matthew, who would have done best if he had at least omitted that dialogue, also overreaches himself somewhat when, on the contrary, he attempts to connect it with the transfiguration. “What, then, do the scholars of Christ say,” ask the disciples, as they came down from the mountain with their Master, “that Elijah must come first?” The question of the disciples presupposes the doubt of the disciples, whether Elijah must yet come, nay, it presupposes the certainty that he need not come at all, and it is therefore only intended to form an objection against the assertion of the scribes. If we now, since neither this doubt nor this certainty is founded in the foregoing, should nevertheless perhaps venture the utmost and explain the question of the disciples thus: “Elijah has just spoken with you, why then should we still expect him, or why do the scribes say that he must appear first, that is, before you? – But even this is of no avail, for the fact that Elijah appears once to the Lord and converses with him cannot be called the coming of which Malachi spoke.

Like the transition which Matthew made, the question itself, which we find in Mark, is made late. Matthew formed that inappropriate transitional formula, Mark created the question and answer and placed both here, not only because Elijah had just appeared and been mentioned, but because now that the Messiahship of Jesus had been explicitly discussed and acknowledged in all its attributes, it was time that the significance of the forerunner was also acknowledged and that he was explicitly called his forerunner by the Lord. Jesus’ response is the expression of later religious reflection on the history, and the question of the disciples is also poorly formulated in the scripture of Mark, as it presupposes in an exaggerated way the thought that it would be impossible to still need another Elijah in the disciples’ minds.


Jesus’ response *), that Elijah has already come and that he has suffered as it is written about the Son of Man, seems to belong completely to Mark, i.e. the original gospel writer seems to have already developed this comparison between the fate that the Messiah must suffer and that which the baptizer Elijah suffered, since Matthew (17:12) would not have easily come up with it at the corresponding location, and Luke in the reworking of this conversation about the Elijah-baptizer (Luke 7:33-34) also reveals that in the original account there was a statement that the people had rejected the baptizer and the Messiah in the same way.

*) And that as Fritzsche and Wilke rightly transpose the text: Mark 9, 13. 12, ελιας μεν . . . . αλλα λεγω υμιν, οτι και ηλιας εληλυθεν και εποιησαν αυτω οσα ηθελησαν, καθως γεγραπται επι τον υιον του ανθρωπου ινα πολλλα παθη και εξουδενωθη.

The fourth makes the Baptist himself declare that the saying of the prophet Isaiah was fulfilled in him by the preacher in the wilderness, but gives him occasion to declare that he was not Ellas. Both are equally inappropriate! He reads in the Scriptures of Luke that the Baptist had once had occasion to declare that he was not the Messiah, he makes this occasion an oskficial one, and as he now in a very exaggerated manner sets it up that the Baptist should first answer all the questions of the inquirers until he declares himself to be that preacher in the wilderness, so he presents the matter clumsily enough in such a way that mair also asked the Baptist whether he was the Ellas and the latter answered the question in the negative. The “who do you think that I am? I am not” of Luke (Acts 13, 25, Luk 3, 15) has been blown out of proportion by the Fourth.


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