The prophet is the people
: an answer to "why Elijah" in Second Temple Jewish and early Christian literature

  • Alicia Ruth Hein

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


This study offers a literary analysis of the texts referencing the prophet Elijah in the Hebrew Bible, Second Temple Jewish literature, and the New Testament. From the perspective of these texts, it aims to answer the question of Elijah’s ongoing literary significance in early Jewish and Christian tradition; in other words, “why Elijah?” My findings propose that Elijah’s recognised role as restorer and forerunner of Yhwh’s restoration is based in the narrative characterisation he is given in 1 and 2 Kings. I argue that the Kings cycle portrays Elijah simultaneously as a prophet like Moses and as a literary embodiment of Yhwh’s righteous remnant, and that his character is purposely shaped as a literary image of hope for the survival of the post-exilic Israelite community. Elijah’s dual characterisation as prophet and remnant, in various forms and by various means, is clearly visible throughout the Second Temple and New Testament texts under analysis. As a prophet, Elijah experiences suffering and acts as Yhwh’s agent of restoration. As an image of the remnant community, he himself is endangered. His ascension to heaven without death, cited by many as the reason for his ongoing literary life, thus has a larger purpose. Elijah escapes death because he is an image of the righteous remnant which cannot die. I argue that Elijah’s character is developed and portrayed throughout early Jewish and Christian texts as the prophet who is simultaneously the righteous remnant people, and thereby, by his ongoing life, ensures their survival and restoration.
Date of Award11 Jun 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorMichael Alan Lyons (Supervisor)


  • Elijah
  • 1 & 2 Kings
  • Malachi
  • New Testament gospels
  • Second Temple literature
  • Intertextuality
  • Narrative analogy
  • Reception
  • Innerbiblical allusion
  • Prophet like Moses

Access Status

  • Full text embargoed until
  • 4 April 2027

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