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Robert Sungenis and the Jews Contra Sungenis on Elijah and the Conversion of the Jews Introduction:

For years now, Bob Sungenis has made it a major objective to discredit the belie f that Elijah the prophet will return again to earth just prior to the Second Co ming of Christ. Why is he so focused on discrediting this belief that is expres sed by many Fathers and Doctors of the Church? Basically, because he thinks it will help him to discredit another belief one held by even more Fathers and Doct ors of the Church a belief that he dislikes even more: that there will be a fut ure, special conversion of the Jewish people to Christ. His argument runs that i f the Fathers got this detail of Elijah s return wrong, then their view of a futur e conversion of the Jews can also be rejected. As with so much of Sungenis s work involving Jewish issues, one must studiously av oid the temptation to simply accept his absolutist assertions and characterizati ons of the evidence. When one takes the time to examine the actual evidence for oneself, one will find that Bob s personal prejudice has led him to present somet hing far more akin to propaganda than to honest, reliable research. So let s exam ine his claims and compare them with the facts. He mounts this campaign against the idea of a future return of Elijah on basical ly four grounds. First, he tries to connect it to chiliasm or millennialism, th e view held by certain early Catholics that there will be a literal thousand yea r reign of Christ on earth after His Second Coming. Second, he insists that the belief is founded on blunders , confusion , and duplicity in the way that the Fathers r ead the Bible. Third, he seeks to taint the idea of a future return of Elijah b y pointing out that this idea was also expressed in various apocryphal works. A nd fourth he attributes a number of additional strange ideas specifically to St. Augustine that, if they were true, might cast some doubt on the saint s views (bu t which we will soon see are really just figments of Sungenis s imagination).

Establishing the Burden of Proof:

As always with Sungenis, it s important to establish at the start who bears the bu rden of proof. Bob regularly tries to shift the burden of proof to his opponent s. But we must remember that it is Bob who presents this belief of the Fathers as being based on obvious blunders (CASB3, p. 448). As he argues that they are fl at out wrong, that this is an error on their part, then the burden of proof is s quarely on him to demonstrate that the Fathers cannot be correct. All I need to do is demonstrate that this belief is reasonable, plausible, and supportable. But I will go beyond that and demonstrate that Bob s treatment of the Fathers of t he Church on this issue has been disrespectful and impious. Also, Bob argues that the belief in a future conversion of the Jews is dependent upon accepting the belief that Elijah will return to preach to the Jews. He ar gues that if the latter is incorrect, the then former must be as well. But anyo ne can see that there is no such complete, mutual dependency between these two b eliefs. The Fathers could potentially be wrong on the matter of Elijah s return a nd still be right concerning a future conversion of the Jews. Again, the burden is on Sungenis to demonstrate this necessary, absolute connection and we will s ee below that he fails to do so.

That being said, when I first began to look into this matter, I wasn t really sure just how strong the evidence was one way or the other and remained open to eith er possibility. I was mostly concerned to at least provide a balancing view to Bob s insistence that the Fathers were duplicitous blunderers and equivocators. B ut as I looked into this in more detail, I found that the support for the view i s much stronger than I had imagined. This renders Sungenis s presentation of the matter all the more disrespectful and impious. So let s look at this issue in mor e detail to discover why this view of the Fathers regarding the future return of Elijah is perfectly reasonable and plausible.

Question: g of Elijah? Answer:

What is the Real Foundation of the Belief in a Future Comin The Sacred Scriptures.

The main verse that illuminates this belief, which Bob criticizes, is Mal 4:5-6:

Behold, I will send you Elias the prophet, before the coming of the great and dr eadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the child ren, and the heart of the children to their fathers: lest I come, and strike the earth with anathema. Although it s clear that these verses have at least a partial fulfillment in the c oming of St. John the Baptist (see Matt 11:14), there are several details even i n the prediction from Malachi most notably the mention of the great and dreadful da y of the Lord which would suggest that there is another fulfillment in connection w ith the Second Coming of Christ. This is strengthened by another passage of sacred Scripture rejected by Protestant s, but known by Catholics to be inspired Scripture namely, Sirach 48:1-10, which r eads:

And Elias the prophet stood up, as a fire, and his word burnt like a torch. He brought a famine upon them, and they that provoked him in their envy, were reduc ed to a small number, for they could not endure the commandments of the Lord. B y the word of the Lord he shut up the heaven, and he brought down fire from heav en thrice. Thus was Elias magnified in his wondrous works. And who can glory li ke to thee? Who raisedst up a dead man from below, from the lot of death, by th e word of the Lord God. Who broughtest down kings to destruction, and brokest e asily their power in pieces, and the glorious from their bed. Who heardest judg ment in Sina, and in Horeb the judgments of vengeance. Who anointedst kings to penance, and madest prophets successors after thee. Who wast taken up in a whir lwind of fire, in a chariot of fiery horses. Who art registered in the judgment s of times to appease the wrath of the Lord, to reconcile the heart of the fathe r to the son, and to restore the tribes of Jacob (my emphasis). This is an important application of the prophecy from the Prophet Malachi, from another passage of sacred Scripture. Notice that from start to finish it is spe aking explicitly of the Old Testament prophet Elijah. Notice too that the last verse cited, v. 10, is clearly an application of the prophecy of Malachi 4:5-6 t o that same Elijah. The presentation of Elijah s deeds is chronological and he is

said to appease the Lord s wrath, reconcile father and son, and restore the tribes of Jacob after he was taken up in a whirlwind of fire into heaven thus it cannot be part of the prophet Elijah s first earthly ministry. And importantly, there is no indication whatsoever that when we come to verse 10 we are suddenly to think, n ot of the original prophet Elijah, but now exclusively of St. John the Baptist. There is no hint that there is any change of subject. Did St. John the Baptist fulfill the prophecy of Mal 4:5-6? Of course, he did. He came, as the angel said to our Lady, in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1 :17). But was that a complete fulfillment of Mal 4:5-6? Certainly Sirach 48:10 would indicate that it was not. And now here's what our Lord says about Elijah /John the Baptist:

And the disciples asked him, "Then why do the scribes say that first Eli'jah mus t come?" He replied, "Eli'jah does come, and he is to restore all things; but I tell you that Eli'jah has already come, and they did not know him, but did to h im whatever they pleased. So also the Son of man will suffer at their hands." T hen the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist (M att 17:10-13; my emphasis). That's the Revised Standard Version (RSV) translation. Here's the Douay-Rheims (DR):

And his disciples asked him, saying: Why then do the scribes say that Elias must come first? But he answering, said to them: Elias indeed shall come, and resto re all things. But I say to you, that Elias is already come, and they knew him not, But have done unto him whatsoever they had a mind. So also the Son of man s hall suffer from them. Then the disciples understood, that he had spoken to the m of John the Baptist (my emphasis). Notice first of all that these words were said after St. John the Baptist had be en executed by Herod. He had already been put to death by Herod. A couple of other interesting things really stand out in this passage (especiall y vv. 10-11). First, it's set up in Greek using a ?? - d? construction, which me ans "on the one hand .... on the other hand". This is not brought out very well in the English translations, but it's concrete in Greek. So on the one hand.... ??....what? Our Lord says that "Elijah does come" or (in t he DR) "Elijah indeed shall come". The Greek verb is ???eta? which is the prese nt middle/passive indicative of the verb ???oma? which means "to come". So this is literally translated "he is coming". Even after St. John the Baptist is dea d, our Lord states that "Elijah is coming", something that seems to suggest a fu ture fulfillment. In addition, in verse 10 our Lord stated, "he [Elijah] will r estore all things". The verb is ?p??atast?se?, a straightforward future active indicative. Again, after St. John the Baptist is dead, our Lord states that Eli jah will in the future restore all things. This is clearly not something that St. J ohn did during his lifetime; it is something that belongs yet to the future. And "on the other hand".....d?....what? In verse 11 the verb is ???e?, the aori st active indicative of the same verb ???oma?, rightly translated as a past tens e, "he has come". This, of course, is looking back to St. John the Baptist. An d "they knew him not" again clearly looking back in the past to St. John. The Fathers of the Church saw here a both/and rather than an either/or. There i

s certainly a fulfillment of Mal 4:5-6 by St. John the Baptist, so that he can i ndeed be spoken of as "Elijah". And yet to the Fathers there remained a future, more literal fulfillment of the prophecy by Elijah himself. Indeed, even St. J ohn the Baptist, when asked whether he was actually Elijah, said I am not (John 1: 21). This juxtaposition of the already and the not yet is summarized well by renowned biblical scholar, Fr. Leo Haydock:

The prophet Elias will come again in person before [our Lord s] second coming to j udgment, and will re-establish all things, by the conversion of the Jews to the Christian faith, according to the common opinion. But John the Baptist who was Elias in spirit, is already come. . . . The Baptist was the precursor of Christ at his first coming, and was styled by our Lord Elias, because he performed the office of Elias; and he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias. (L uke i. 17.) --- But this prophet in person will be the precursor of the second c oming of Christ. . . . Jesus Christ here confirms the literal sense of the proph ecy; (Malachias iv. 5,) but in the next verse, he shews a prior, though less per fect accomplishment of the same in the person of John the Baptist, who was raise d by God to prepare the ways of the Lord. Cf. also renowned biblical scholar, Fr. Cornelius de Lapide:

Falsely do the Calvinists refer all these things to the first Advent of Christ, and explain both mentions of Elias viz., in verses 11 and 12 to mean John the Baptis t. For they think that Elias, whom Malachi predicted shall come as the precursor of Christ (iv. 5), is John the Baptist, and that there is no other who shall co me with Enoch before Christ s second Advent. (http://www.catholicapologetics.info/ scripture/newtestament/17matth.htm) This idea that there are comings of Elijah in conjunction with both the first an d second coming of our Lord is laid out by numerous Fathers of the Church. St. Justin Martyr, writing c. A.D. 160, had this to say:

Justin: Does not Scripture, in the book of Zechariah, Malachi 4:5 say that Elija h shall come before the great and terrible day of the Lord?

Trypho: Certainly.

Justin: If therefore Scripture compels you to admit that two advents of Christ w ere predicted to take place one in which He would appear suffering, and dishonoure d, and without comeliness; but the other in which He would come glorious and Jud ge of all, as has been made manifest in many of the fore-cited passages shall we n ot suppose that the word of God has proclaimed that Elijah shall be the precurso r of the great and terrible day, that is, of His second advent?

Trypho: Certainly.

Justin: And, accordingly, our Lord in His teaching proclaimed that this very thi ng would take place, saying that Elijah would also come. And we know that this s hall take place when our Lord Jesus Christ shall come in glory from heaven; whos e first manifestation the Spirit of God who was in Elijah preceded as herald in [the person of] John, a prophet among your nation; after whom no other prophet a ppeared among you.

Already in the second century the Fathers saw that Scripture supported the idea of an appearance of Elijah to accompany both the first and second comings of Chr ist. Another early Father, Tertullian, lays this out even more clearly:

But Elias is to come again, not after quitting life (in the way of dying), but a fter his translation (or removal without dying); not for the purpose of being re stored to the body, from which he had not departed, but for the purpose of revis iting the world from which he was translated; not by way of resuming a life whic h he had laid aside, but of fulfilling prophecy really and truly the same man, bot h in respect of his name and designation, as well as of his unchanged humanity. How, therefore could John be Elias? You have your answer in the angel's announce ment: "And he shall go before the people," says he, "in the spirit and power of Elias" not (observe) in his soul and his body.

Even Sungenis has to admit that Tertullian was one of the more vocal proponents o f both Chiliasm and the Enoch/Elijah theory and he seems to be reiterating an idea that came prior to him (CASB3, p. 443).

The list of Fathers I found who very matter-of-factly supported the view that El ijah would return again just prior to the Second Coming of Christ is impressive (and there may be more whom I did not find): St. Justin Martyr[i], Tertullian[ii ], Lactantius[iii], St. Hippolytus[iv], St. Clement of Alexandria[v], St. Victor inus[vi], St. Ambrose[vii], St. Jerome[viii], St. John Chrysostom[ix], St. Ephra im the Syrian[x], St. Hilary[xi], St. Gregory of Nyssa[xii], St. Augustine[xiii] , St. Prosper of Aquitaine (???), Theodoret[xiv], St. Gregory the Great[xv], St. John Damascene[xvi], St. Bede[xvii]. The view is also held by such Doctors of the Church as St. Thomas and St. Bellarmine. With a pedigree like that, it woul d require quite a bit of proof to demonstrate that they were not only wrong, but guilty of serious blunders , as Sungenis holds. So let s examine his evidence.

Now To Bob s Claims:

Here s a summary of his views from his CASB3 commentary on Romans:

It is quite evident that the tradition espousing the return of Enoch and Elijah to fulfill the imagery of Apocalypse 11:5-8 originated among: (1) the Fathers wh o held the Chiliastic view of eschatology, and (2) about a half-dozen apocryphal

or pseudepigraphal books that often contained exaggerated and fanciful accounts of biblical figures. In short, the idea that Enoch and Elijah would return in t he future to preach the gospel to the last generation of Jews has a dubious, and very possibly, a fallacious pedigree. (CASB3, p. 452) Let s dispatch these assertions one at a time. Sungenis makes the same charge aga inst the idea of a future return of Elijah that he does against belief in a futu re conversion of the Jews, namely, that it had its origin in early chiliastic or millennial views. Sungenis insists elsewhere that, the idea that Rm 11:25-27 is teaching a future conversion of the Jews had its origin in the Chiliasm of the early Fathers (CASB3, p. 448). A bold assertion indeed, since he uses this idea as a main platform on which to deny the common Catholic Tradition held by dozens o f Fathers, Doctors, Popes and recently taught by the Magisterium in the Catechis m of the Catholic Church that after the fullness of the Gentiles, there will be a special conversion of the Jewish people. For a claim so bold we would naturally want to see significant evidence. Instead, we find this is just another of Bob s mere, unsupported assertions. I d like to highlight one often-overlooked point before I proceed. Although it s tr ue that there were a number of the early Fathers who held to chiliasm/millennial ism, it seems clear they understood that Catholics could and did freely disagree . In fact, St. Justin Martyr comes right out and says as much. His statement i n support of millennialism is widely cited. Not so widely cited is his very mat ter-of-fact statement that, on the other hand, I signified to you that many who b elong to the pure and pious faith, and are true Christians, think otherwise (Dial ogue with Trypho 80; my emphasis). So I object to the characterization that the early Church was dominated by chiliasts. At least according to one of our impo rtant witnesses, some were, some were not. It does not appear to have been a ma tter of inordinate concern one way or the other and eventually chiliasm faded aw ay as more consistent eschatological views won out. I would also point out that the Fathers and Doctors of the Church exhibited no such doubt in regard to thei r belief in a special, future conversion of the Jews. They treated this belief as a well-known and accepted fact. As such, it s not logical to suggest that their b elief and teaching on the latter was predicated on the former. These sainted sc holars knew full well that a conclusion can t be more certain than the supposition s underlying that conclusion. Now, the only witness that Sungenis brings forward to try and demonstrate the al leged intrinsic connection between chiliasm and a future conversion of the Jews is Tertullian. Sungenis cites a text from Book 5, Chapter 9 of Adversus Marcion em in which Tertullian speaks of the belief in a future, special conversion of t he Jews. Then he notes that Tertullian was writing in and around the same time as other Fathers who held to millennial views and he gives a few quotes to illus trate the millennial views of those Fathers. Apparently we're supposed to find this significant and convincing, but he makes no connection to the future conver sion of the Jews. So the careful reader is left wondering what, exactly, this is supposed to prove.

Sungenis then cites another passage to try and link the conversion of the Jews w ith Tertullian s view on the millennium:

In the very book from which Tertullian says at the Second Coming he expects Chri st will favor with his acceptance and blessing the circumcision, he writes of his belief in a future kingdom on earth (CASB3, p. 445). And he summarizes,

Combining Tertullian s two above quotes, we can see that he envisioned a future 10 00-year kingdom that would house the Jews who had been converted to Christianity (CASB3, p. 446). Combining [the] two above quotes might be fine if there is some reason to believe that they are related in some way. But are they? The problem for Sungenis is t hat those two quotations from Tertullian, which he so blithely combines as if th ere is some obvious logical connection between them, are separated literally by over 70,000 words! They are in completely different parts of the larger work. As such, any intrinsic linkage between these two ideas exists more in Sungenis s m ind than Tertullian s. In fact, I would turn this right back on Sungenis. Far fr om there being any intrinsic connection between these two ideas, the very fact t hat they occur in totally different sections of Tertullian s work, separated by te ns of thousands of words is a good indication that there is no such connection. (The same is true of St. Justin Martyr s work, where the discussion of a future r eturn of Elijah is discussed in a completely different context from the discussi on on a future millennial kingdom.) Bob provides no evidence at all from Tertul lian s or St. Justin Martyr s own statements that they based their belief and teachi ng about the conversion of the Jews on chiliasm at all. He merely assumes it. Bob then insists that Tertullian was not the first to espouse this unique viewpoi nt and we naturally expect him to try and show more connections between chiliasm and the future conversion of the Jews. But, while Bob cites a few more early Fa thers who held to millennial ideas, he never gives any proof establishing any li nkage at all to a future Jewish conversion. Unfortunately, this doesn t stop him from asserting that he has actually demonstrated something:

we can see rather easily where the combined prospects for a future millennial ki ngdom and an en masse conversion of the Jews to inhabit that kingdom originated. It did not originate with a thorough and detailed exegesis of Rm 11:25-27 or an y other passage of Scripture, but with an idiosyncratic tradition passed down by Papias to [sic] which other Fathers of his era adopted (CASB3, 447). And that s it. That s the sum total of the evidence Sungenis advances to try and esta blish this alleged essential connection between chiliasm and belief in a future conversion of the Jews. Most careful readers are going to be left scratching th eir heads. But in Bob's mind it s now so firmly established that for the rest of his excursus he simply assumes and asserts it: As noted above, the idea that Rm 1 1:25-27 is teaching a future conversion of the Jews had its origin in the Chilia sm of the early Fathers (CASB3, 448). Things don t get any better when we examine his attempt to connect the future retu rn of Elijah with the conversion of the Jews. He simply forges right on to asse rt again, without any significant substantiation that the view of a future return of Elijah (and Enoch) also has an essential connection with millennial views: Where did the Enoch/Elijah interpretation originate? Obviously with the same early Fathe rs who believed in Chiliasm (CASB3, p. 450). Obviously ? Hardly. The connection is only obvious to Bob. To establish this connection he offers two citations, one fr om Lactantius from a different work than that in which that Father spoke of the mi llennium and one from Tertullian again, from a completely different work than that i n which he spoke of the millennium and the conversion of the Jews. The fact is, there is no necessary connection between either the conversion of t he Jews and millennial views or the return of Elijah/Enoch and millennial views. That is precisely why the Fathers and Doctors of the Church would continue to

believe in both the conversion of the Jews and the return of Elijah in the Last Days, long after they had abandoned belief in a literal millennial kingdom. Bob accuses them of blundering or even engaging in duplicity . But the fact is that t hese connections exist fundamentally in Bob s fertile, anti-Jewish imagination. O nce we set aside Bob s unsubstantiated views, the Fathers and Doctors are seen to be perfectly consistent.

The Misleading Septuagint?

Bob repeatedly insists that the Fathers were misled by the particular translatio n of Malachi 4:5-6 in the Septuagint, the ancient Greek translation of the Old T estament, which speaks specifically of Elijah the Tishbite rather than more generi cally Elijah the prophet as the original Hebrew reads. Sungenis speaks of the blun der of St. Augustine:

Of the dozen or so Fathers that speak about a future conversion of the Jews, onl y superficial and question-begging assertions are made of Rm 11:25-27, and often with some obvious blunders. For example, beginning with Augustine, there persis ts a strain of thought that Elijah will be transported from heaven to earth in o rder to preach to the last generation of Jews for their conversion. Augustine at tempts to support this view by a tenuous interpretation of Malachi 4:5, which sp eaks of Elijah returning before the Day of the Lord in order to turn the hearts of fathers and sons toward each other.688 As opposed to his penchant to interpret [ sic] almost [sic] all other prophetic passages symbolically, Augustine insisted on interpreting Ml 4:5 literally. By his own admission, he did so because he was influenced by the translation of the Greek Septuagint that specified a return o f Elijah the Tishbite. Augustine said that the appearance of Tishbite led him to be lieve that the real Elijah would have to return from heaven in the distant futur e since only one person could satisfy being originally from Tishbi. Not being pr ivy to the Hebrew text (which was the only divinely inspired version of Malachi) , Augustine was not aware that Ml 4:5 merely said Elijah the prophet.

And then he insists that:

his error was carried over to a few other Fathers and medievals who, like August ine, didn t bother to exegete the passages in question but merely accepted what Au gustine had left them. This assertion of error on the part of St. Augustine may be answered in several ways. First, it is simply false that St. Augustine stated that he was influenced by the translation of the Greek Septuagint to speak specifically of Elijah the T ishbite. Bob is putting words in St. Augustine s mouth. Here s the entire text to which Sungenis refers:

After admonishing them to give heed to the law of Moses, as he foresaw that for a long time to come they would not understand it spiritually and rightly, he wen t on to say, "And, behold, I will send to you Elias the Tishbite before the grea t and signal day of the Lord come: and he shall turn the heart of the father to

the son, and the heart of a man to his next of kin, lest I come and utterly smit e the earth." It is a familiar theme in the conversation and heart of the faithf ul, that in the last days before the judgment the Jews shall believe in the true Christ, that is, our Christ, by means of this great and admirable prophet Elias who shall expound the law to them. For not without reason do we hope that befor e the coming of our Judge and Saviour Elias shall come, because we have good rea son to believe that he is now alive; for, as Scripture most distinctly informs u s,he was taken up from this life in a chariot of fire. When, therefore, he is co me, he shall give a spiritual explanation of the law which the Jews at present u nderstand carnally, and shall thus "turn the heart of the father to the son," th at is, the heart of fathers to their children; for the Septuagint translators ha ve frequently put the singular for the plural number. And the meaning is, that t he sons, that is, the Jews, shall understand the law as the fathers, that is, th e prophets, and among them Moses himself, understood it. (St. Augustine, City of God XX.29)

Notice that St. Augustine speaks of the Septuagint s putting the singular for the p lural in the phrase turn the heart of the father to the son . But where is the evid ence for Sungenis s insistence that St. Augustine explicitly appeals to the Septua gint in order to identify Elijah as the Tishbite ? It doesn t exist. So in accusing St. Augustine of blundering, Bob himself blunders. I readily concede that the original reading in the Hebrew text is the prophet rath er than the Tishbite . And there is no doubt, too, that Malachi 4:5-6 has St. John the Baptist as one of its primary fulfillments. But the question remains wheth er the fulfillment of that prophecy is exhausted in St. John the Baptist or if t here is a further, more literal fulfillment of it left for the future. The latt er position was taken by many of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church. Again, it is Bob s burden of proof to show that such a future, literal fulfillment of Mal achi s prophecy is impossible. Otherwise he is merely being disrespectful and imp ious by speaking so blithely of blunders and duplicity on the part of great saints l ike St. Augustine. But we ve already seen that, far from being impossible, their view was perfectly plausible, being well grounded in Mal 4:5-6, Sir 48:1-10, and Matt 17:10ff.. In short, Bob has tried to hang a large part of his case on the peg of the Septu agint s use of the phrase the Tishbite in Mal 4:5-6, but the peg just won t hold up hi s case.

The Apocrypha: But undaunted, Bob presses on, trying also to establish some connection between the belief in a future return of Elijah and various apocryphal/pseudegraphical w orks. I cited him above claiming that, the tradition espousing the return of Eno ch and Elijah to fulfill the imagery of Apocalypse 11:5-8 originated among: (1) the Fathers who held the Chiliastic view of eschatology, and (2) about a half-do zen apocryphal or pseudepigraphal books that often contained exaggerated and fan ciful accounts of biblical figures. Elsewhere he claims:

Such caution is especially needed in light of the fact that the source for the E noch/Elijah prediction originates from the Chiliasts among the early Fathers, an d was later popularized in an assortment of apocryphal and pseudepigraphal works circulating in the first centuries of the Church (CASB3, 442).

And,

Even more intriguing is that the supposed return of Enoch and Elijah was also a fixture in the apocryphal apocalypse literature of that Day (CASB3, p. 451).

Here, he adopts a common Protestant argument when seeking to discredit some dist inctively Catholic belief. Find a parallel for a given belief say the Assumption of Mary or Mary as a perpetual virgin in the apocryphal works and then insinuate t hat the belief held by Catholics actually came from those doctrinally tainted so urces. The problem is at least two-fold. First, his argument is anachronistic. The apocryphal works he cites date much later than the earliest Fathers who wi tness to this belief, such as St. Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Hippolytus, and Cle ment of Alexandria. Therefore it s far more likely, from chronology alone, that t he apocryphal writers got this notion from orthodox sources rather than the othe r way around. And how plausible is it really that the Fathers picked up an alien doctrine from apocryphal works and unthinkingly passed it on as Catholic tradition? Notice a lso the open disdain with which St. Augustine held The Revelation of Paul , which w as the very first example Bob cites to try to connect the Enoch/Elijah theme to apocryphal literature: "The Revelation of Paul was known to S. Augustine, who thus refers to it in his Tractate 98 on the Gospel of John, 8: ". . . There have been some vain individual s, who, with a presumption that betrays the grossest folly, have forged a Revela tion of Paul, crammed with all manner of fables, which has been rejected by the Orthodox Church" (ANF X, p. 150.) Is it really credible that St. Augustine, so openly disdainful of these apocryph al works, was also so gullible that he unthinkingly absorbed the notion of a fut ure return of Elijah from these same works?

St. Augustine, Blunderer Extraordinaire? Bob spends a particular amount of time criticizing St. Augustine with regard to belief in a future return of Elijah. He speaks of the Doctor s idiosyncratic view of Ml 4:5 , claiming that It would not be the first time in Augustine s career where his peculiar interpretation of one verse of Scripture would put the breaks [sic] on alternate interpretations (CASB3, p. 453). But we have seen above that this view was hardly idiosyncratic, having been held by numerous Fathers of the Churc h both before and contemporaneously with St. Augustine. It did not originate wi th him, nor is there any evidence that his own view exerted any particular or un due influence. Here is the pertinent passage again, in its entirety:

After admonishing them to give heed to the law of Moses, as he foresaw that for a long time to come they would not understand it spiritually and rightly, he wen t on to say, "And, behold, I will send to you Elias the Tishbite before the grea t and signal day of the Lord come: and he shall turn the heart of the father to the son, and the heart of a man to his next of kin, lest I come and utterly smit e the earth." It is a familiar theme in the conversation and heart of the faithf

ul, that in the last days before the judgment the Jews shall believe in the true Christ, that is, our Christ, by means of this great and admirable prophet Elias who shall expound the law to them. For not without reason do we hope that befor e the coming of our Judge and Saviour Elias shall come, because we have good rea son to believe that he is now alive; for, as Scripture most distinctly informs u s,he was taken up from this life in a chariot of fire. When, therefore, he is co me, he shall give a spiritual explanation of the law which the Jews at present u nderstand carnally, and shall thus "turn the heart of the father to the son," th at is, the heart of fathers to their children; for the Septuagint translators ha ve frequently put the singular for the plural number. And the meaning is, that t he sons, that is, the Jews, shall understand the law as the fathers, that is, th e prophets, and among them Moses himself, understood it. (City of God XX.29)

Notice that St. Augustine states that this was a common view, held in common by the faithful (again, in contrast to St. Justin Martyr s admission that many in his d ay did not agree with chiliasm/millennialism). Nor does he raise any caution ab out the view on the contrary, he wholeheartedly supports it himself. But Bob accuses the saint of blunders , of equivocation , and incredibly of exegetical duplicity which led him to [produce] many forced interpretations of Ap 11:5-8 and Rm 11:25-26 to make room for both a Jewish conversion and a Jewish evangelism to the Gentiles (CASB3, p. 454). Indeed, so great is his irritation that Bob accus es the Doctor of additional errors. He insists that St. Augustine s view that the re will be a future conversion of the Jews to Christ makes little sense and seems t o be somewhat frivolous by divine standards , because a large-scale conversion of the Jews is delayed until the end times. Incredibly, Bob conveniently ignores t he fact that according to his own theological views, the Jewish people will rema in irrevocably hardened and estranged from God to the bitter end! Are we to be lieve that Bob just somehow forgot writing these tender passages about the Jews and his version of divine mercy ?:

the hardening is never lifted. It is permanent because it serves as a final divin e judgment upon the stubbornly unrepentant (CASB 3, p. 112)

The unbelief of the Jews, by God's design, will continue right up until the end, and only a remnant out of Jewry will be saved (Conversion of the Jews not Necessa ry: The Apocalyptic Ramifications of a Novel Teaching).

the hardening God has cast upon the Jews at large for their general unbelief will r emain until the end of time (CASB 2, p. 139) "The whole tenor of the New Testament is that God is finally rejecting the Jews (except for a remnant)...God is giving up on the Jews. In the language of John 6 :44, God is no longer going to draw them to Jesus.? In fact, God will become act ive in keeping them in unbelief by blinding ?them to the truth (Romans 11:8). Th at is the kind of God we have; a ?very dynamic God...and the Jews will die in th eir unbelief." (Second Rebuttal to Dr. James White on Predestination) Bob himself blunders yet again when he asserts, For example, beginning with Augus tine, there persists a strain of thought that Elijah will be transported from he aven to earth in order to preach to the last generation of Jews for their conver sion (CASB3, p. 442). This idea did not begin with St. Augustine. Rather, it wa

s rather obviously expressed in the idea, voiced in Sir 48:10, that Elijah would just prior to the End restore the tribes of Jacob . And various Fathers expressed exactly this before St. Augustine did. For example St. Victorinus, writing abo ut a hundred years before St. Augustine, says: He speaks of Elias the prophet, who is the precursor of the times of Antichrist, for the restoration and establishment of the churches from the great and intole rable persecution. We read that these things are predicted in the opening of the Old and New Testament; for He says by Malachi: Lo, I will send to you Elias the Tishbite, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, according to the ti me of calling, to recall the Jews to the faith of the people that succeed them ( ANF 7, p. 413; my emphasis). And St. John Chrysostom, writing totally independently of, and probably before S t. Augustine, said:

To show therefore that the Tishbite comes before that other advent, which has th e judgment, He said this. And the reason too of his coming He teaches withal. An d what is this reason? That when He has come, he may persuade the Jews to believ e in Christ, and that they may not all utterly perish at His coming. Wherefore H e too, guiding them on to that remembrance, says, And he shall restore all thing s; that is, shall correct the unbelief of the Jews that are then in being (Homil y 57; NPNF1, vol. 10, p. 357). And Bob makes the additional claim that Augustine then sought to identify the Deli verer of Rm 11:26 with Elijah (CASB3, 449). This particular charge is remarkable, considering that in the passage under consideration St. Augustine does no such thing. Read St. Augustine s words above again. He doesn t even use the word Deliver er at all, let alone does he identify the Deliverer with Elijah rather than Jesus C hrist. I have no idea where Sungenis came up with this. So while accusing St. Augustine of blundering, Sungenis himself commits multiple blunders. Again, I find this approach to the Fathers of our faith to be disres pectful at best and downright impious at worst. What is Behind it All? Many years ago Mark Cameron posed a very pertinent question to Bob:

My other question is, given the broad consensus I have found in Catholic sources saying that there will be such a future conversion of Jews to the faith, some f rom sources that you must have seen before in your wide reading, why are you so keen to deny this teaching?

Why does Bob work so hard to discredit a future, special conversion of the Jews, even if it means pitting himself against an impressive array of Fathers, Doctor s, Popes, and the Magisterium itself? Why does he insist that the great consensus of the Fathers on the conversion of the Jews is certainly wrong, but is quick to trumpet the testimony of exactly tw o Fathers who suggest that the Antichrist might be a Jew? Why is he willing to crop out sections of patristic quotes that indicate that th

e Fathers believed in this future conversion? Why is he willing to torture the Catechism of the Catholic Church s English phrase in the wake of and studiously ignore the official Latin which unambiguously teach es that all Israel will recognize Jesus Christ after (post) the full inclusion of t he Gentiles in order to obfuscate an obvious magisterial affirmation of the teach ing of the Fathers and Doctors concerning a future conversion of the Jews? (See here.) Why does he accuse venerable Fathers of blunders , equivocation , and even exegetical d uplicity in believing in a future return of Elijah the prophet, when anyone can s ee that their views were perfectly reasonable and in harmony with sacred Scriptu re? Why indeed? Is this all a product of calm and deliberate scholarship? Does this support Bob s assertion that he s just in it for the truth ? Hardly. We ve suggested th at the only reasonable answer to Cameron s question is that Bob Sungenis harbors a n animus and a deep prejudice against the Jewish people that clouds his reason a nd taints his work. While Sungenis is capable of doing responsible work in othe r areas, it has been demonstrated repeatedly that when the topic turns to Jews o r anything Jewish, Bob s work degenerates into rank propaganda. The belief of numerous Fathers and Doctors of the Church in a future return of E lijah the prophet is well established in sacred Scripture. It is certainly a be lief in itself worthy of any Catholic and it is disrespectful and impious for Su ngenis to accuse the Fathers, as he does, of blundering and duplicity. The beli ef in a special conversion of the Jews which is itself supported by even more Fath ers and Doctors of the Church (not to mention four Popes and the Catechism of th e Catholic Church) is not dependent upon acceptance of the belief that Elijah wi ll return. But certainly the two views are complementary. In the end we find yet again that Bob exhibits a marked theology of prejudice, blatant exegetical b ias, and disrespect for his Fathers in the faith in his study of Jewish issues.

For further reading, see:

The Theology of Predjudice

Sungenis on Romans 11: Theological Bias in Biblical Exegesis

END NOTES: [i] Justin: Does not Scripture, in the book of Zechariah, Malachi 4:5 say that El ijah shall come before the great and terrible day of the Lord?

Trypho: Certainly.

Justin: If therefore Scripture compels you to admit that two advents of Christ w ere predicted to take place one in which He would appear suffering, and dishonoure d, and without comeliness; but the other in which He would come glorious and Jud ge of all, as has been made manifest in many of the fore-cited passages shall we n ot suppose that the word of God has proclaimed that Elijah shall be the precurso r of the great and terrible day, that is, of His second advent?

Trypho: Certainly. ustin: And, accordingly, our Lord in His teaching proclaimed that this very thin g would take place, saying that Elijah would also come. And we know that this sh all take place when our Lord Jesus Christ shall come in glory from heaven; whose first manifestation the Spirit of God who was in Elijah preceded as herald in [ the person of] John, a prophet among your nation; after whom no other prophet ap peared among you.

[ii] I apprehend that heretics of this school seize with special avidity the exam ple of Elias, whom they assume to have been so reproduced in John (the Baptist) as to make our Lord's statement sponsor for their theory of transmigration, when He said, "Elias has come already, and they knew him not;" [Matthew 17:12] and a gain, in another passage, "And if you will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come." [Matthew 11:14] Well, then, was it really in a Pythagorean sense t hat the Jews approached John with the inquiry, "Are you Elias?" [John 1:21] and not rather in the sense of the divine prediction, "Behold, I will send you Elija h" the Tisbite? [Malachi 4:5] The fact, however, is, that their metempsychosis, or transmigration theory, signifies the recall of the soul which had died long b efore, and its return to some other body. But Elias is to come again, not after quitting life (in the way of dying), but after his translation (or removal witho ut dying); not for the purpose of being restored to the body, from which he had not departed, but for the purpose of revisiting the world from which he was tran slated; not by way of resuming a life which he had laid aside, but of fulfilling prophecy really and truly the same man, both in respect of his name and designati on, as well as of his unchanged humanity. How, therefore could John be Elias? Yo u have your answer in the angel's announcement: "And he shall go before the peop le," says he, "in the spirit and power of Elias" not (observe) in his soul and hi s body.

[iii] affirming that the two prophets Enoch and Elias have been translated into so me remote place that they might attend our Lord when He shall come to judgment (T he Manner in Which the Persecutors Died, Chapter 2, ANF).

[iv] But since the Saviour was the beginning of the resurrection of all men, it w as meet that the Lord alone should rise from the dead, by whom too the judgment is to enter for the whole world, that they who have wrestled worthily may be als o crowned worthily by Him, by the illustrious Arbiter, to wit, who Himself first accomplished the course, and was received into the heavens, and was set down on the right hand of God the Father, and is to be manifested again at the end of t he world as Judge. It is a matter of course that His forerunners must appear fir st, as He says by Malachi and the angel, "I will send to you Elias the Tishbite before the day of the Lord, the great and notable day, comes; and he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, lest I come and smite the earth utterly." These, then, shall come and

proclaim the manifestation of Christ that is to be from heaven; and they shall a lso perform signs and wonders, in order that men may be put to shame and turned to repentance for their surpassing wickedness and impiety. [v] 21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? and he saith, I am not. Ar t thou that Prophet? And he answered, No. Having said by way of explanation, he confessed, I am not the Christ; he tries t o shew how or in what manner the confession was made; and he appears to me to wi sh thereby to lay bare the ill-instructedness of the Jews. For professing themse lves to be wise they became fools, and puffed up at their knowledge of the Law, and ever putting forward the commandments of Moses and asserting that they were perfectly instructed in the words of the holy Prophets, by their foolish questio ns they are convicted of being wholly uninstructed. For the hierophant Moses say ing that the Lord should be revealed as a Prophet foretold to the children of Is rael, The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me, unto Him shall ye hearken; according to all that thou desiredst of the Lord thy God in Horeb. The blessed Isaiah, introducing to us the forerunner and fore-messenger, says, The voice of one crying in the wild erness Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight: and in addition to these the Prophet Joel 13 says of |127 the Tishbite (he was Elias) Behold, I send you Elijah the Tishbite 14 who shall turn the heart of the fathers to the c hildren, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, lest I come and smite th e earth with a curse. There being then three, who were promised should come, Christ and John and Elias , the Jews expect that more will come, that they may rightly hear, Ye do err not knowing the Scriptures. For when they enquired of the blessed Baptist and learn ed that he was not the Christ, they answer, What then? art thou Elias? and on hi s saying I am not, when they ought to have asked respecting the fore-runner (for he it was that remained) they ignorantly return to Christ Himself, Who was reve aled through the Law as a Prophet. For see what they say, not knowing what was t old them through Moses, Art thou the Prophet? and he answered, No. For he was no t the Christ, as he had already before declared.

[vi] And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the livi ng God. ] He speaks of Elias the prophet, who is the precursor of the times of Ant ichrist, for the restoration and establishment of the churches from the great an d intolerable persecution. We read that these things are predicted in the openin g of the Old and New Testament; for He says by Malachi: Lo, I will send to you El ias the Tishbite, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, according t o the time of calling, to recall the Jews to the faith of the people that succee d them. (ANF 7, ).

[vii] "Because the Lord was to come down from heaven, and to ascend to heaven, H e raised Elias to heaven, to bring him back to the earth at the time He should p lease." "The beast, Antichrist, ascends from the abyss to fight against Elias an d Enoch and John, who are restored to the earth for the testimony to the Lord Je sus, as we read in the Apocalypse of John."

[viii] "God will send, in Elias (which is interpreted 'My God' and wire is of th e town Thisbe, which signifies 'conversion' or 'penitence') the whole choir of t he prophets, "to convert the heart of the fathers to the sons," namely, Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the patriarchs, that their posterity may believe in

the Lord the Saviour, in whom themselves believed: 'for Abraham saw the day of t he Lord and was glad.'" Here, he speaks of the "coming of Elias before their ano inted," as a supposition of Jews and Judaizing heretics. But in commenting on ou r Lord's words in Matthew, he adheres twice to the literal meaning. On Matthew 1 1:14-15, "Some think that John is therefore called Elias, because, as, according to Malachi, at the second coming of the Saviour. On Matthew 17:11-12, Elias wil l precede and announce the Judge to come, so did John at His first coming, and e ach is a messenger, of the first or second coming of the Lord:" and again concis ely, On Matthew 17:11-12, "He who is to come in the second Coining of the Saviou r in the actual body, now comes through John in spirit and power;" and he speaks of Enoch and Elias as "the two witnesses in the Revelation, since, according to the Apocalypse of John, Enoch and Elias are spoken of, as having to die."

[ix] For in the first [advent] He came not to smite the earth. For, "I came not," saith He, "to judge the world, but to save the world." To show therefore that [ Elijah] the Tishbite comes before that [second] advent ... He said this. ... And what is this reason? That when He is come, He may persuade the Jews to believe in Christ ... Wherefore He too, guiding them on to that remembrance, saith, "And he shall restore all things;" that is, shall correct the unbelief of the Jews t hat are then in being. Hence the extreme accuracy of his expression; in that He said not, "He will restore the heart of the son to the father," but "of the fat her to the son." For the Jews being fathers of the apostles, his meaning is, tha t he will restore to the doctrines of their sons, that is, of the apostles, the hearts of the fathers, that is, the Jewish people's mind. (St. John Chrysostom, H omilies on Matthew, Homily LVII, 1; P. Schaff (ed.), Nicene and Post-Nicene Fath ers, Series I (hereafter, NPNF1), Vol. X [Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publ ishing, 1956], p. 352, emphasis added)

[x] Before all this occurs, the Lord in His mercy will send Elijah and Enoch, tha t they might preach true piety to mankind and boldly preach the knowledge of goo d to all, teaching them not to believe in the tormentor out of fear. They will c all out and say: O people, this is flattery! Let no one believe it and obey the a ntagonist of God; let none of you be brought to fright, for he will soon be brou ght to naught. Soon, the Holy Lord will come from heaven to judge all who have b elieved his signs. Few will desire to hear and believe this admonition of the pro phets. (The Word of our Holy Father Ephraim the Syrian on the Coming of Antichri st).

[xi] "The Apostles inquire in anxiety about the times of Elias. To whom He answe reth, that "Elias will come and restore all things," that is, will recall to the knowledge of God, what he shall find of Israel; but he signifies that John came "in the spirit and power of Elias," to whom they had shown all severe and harsh dealings, that, foreannouncing the Coming of the Lord, he might be a forerunner of the Passion also by an example of wrong and harass." "We understand that tho se same prophets (Moses and Elias) will come before His Coming, who, the Apocaly pse of John says, will be slain by Antichrist, although there are various opinio ns of very many, as to Enoch or Jeremiah, that one of them is to die, as Elias."

Hilary the Deacon, 355 a.d., has on the words, "I suppose God hath set forth us the Apostles last;" "He therefore applies these to his own person, because he wa s always in distress, suffering, beyond the rest, persecutions and distresses, a s Enoch and Elias will suffer, who will be Apostles at the last time. For they h

ave to be sent before Christ, to make ready the people of God, and fortify all t he Churches to resist Antichrist, of whom the Apocalypse attests, that they will suffer persecutions and be slain." "When the faithless shall be secure of the k ingdom of the devil, the saints, i. e., Enoch and Elias being slain, rejoicing i n the victory, and 'sending gifts, one to another' as the Apocalypse says Revela tion 11:10 sudden destruction shall come upon them. For Christ at His Coming, sh all destroy them all."

[xii] Gregory of Nyssa quotes the prophecy under the heading, that "before the s econd Coming of our Lord, Elias should come."

[xiii] After admonishing them to give heed to the law of Moses, as he foresaw tha t for a long time to come they would not understand it spiritually and rightly, he went on to say, "And, behold, I will send to you Elias the Tishbite before th e great and signal day of the Lord come: and he shall turn the heart of the fath er to the son, and the heart of a man to his next of kin, lest I come and utterl y smite the earth." It is a familiar theme in the conversation and heart of the faithful, that in the last days before the judgment the Jews shall believe in th e true Christ, that is, our Christ, by means of this great and admirable prophet Elias who shall expound the law to them. For not without reason do we hope that before the coming of our Judge and Saviour Elias shall come, because we have go od reason to believe that he is now alive; for, as Scripture most distinctly inf orms us,he was taken up from this life in a chariot of fire. When, therefore, he is come, he shall give a spiritual explanation of the law which the Jews at pre sent understand carnally, and shall thus "turn the heart of the father to the so n," that is, the heart of fathers to their children; for the Septuagint translat ors have frequently put the singular for the plural number. And the meaning is, that the sons, that is, the Jews, shall understand the law as the fathers, that is, the prophets, and among them Moses himself, understood it (St. Augustine, Cit y of God XX.29).

[xiv] "Malachi teaches us how, when Antichrist shall presume on these things, th e great Elias shall appear, preaching to the Jews the coming of Christ: and he s hall convert many, for this is the meaning of, "he shall turn the heart of the f athers to the children," i. e., the Jews (for these he calls fathers, as being o lder in knowledge) to those who believed from the Gentiles. They who shall belie ve through the preaching of the great Elias, and shall join themselves to the Ge ntiles who seized the salvation sent to them, shall become one church.

[xv] Which, clearly, is said, not because the Elect shall fall, but because they shall tremble with terrible alarms. Now at that time both the latest Elect and the first Elect are described as maintaining the conflict for righteousness agai nst him, in that both they that shall be found among the Elect at the end of the world, are destined to be laid low in the death of the flesh, and they too who proceeded from the former divisions of the world, i.e. Enoch and Elijah, shall b e brought back amongst men, and shall be exposed to the savageness of his cruelt y still in their mortal flesh (Moralia XIV.27).

[xvi] But Enoch and Elias the Thesbite shall be sent and shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, that is, the synagogue to our Lord Jesus Christ an

d the preaching of the apostles: and they will be destroyed by him. And the Lord shall come out of heaven, just as the holy apostles beheld Him going into heave n perfect God and perfect man, with glory and power, and will destroy the man of lawlessness, the son of destruction, with the breath of His mouth. Let no one, therefore, look for the Lord to come from earth, but out of Heaven, as He himsel f has made sure (Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book IV, Chapter 26).

[xvii] He will restore all things, that is to say, those things which Malachi poi nts out, saying, Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet, and he shall turn t he heart of the fathers to be children, and the heart of the children to their f athers....." Jesus makes it clear that Elijah is to come, and He made it clear t hat he has come in a figurative way, much like the antichrist has come, is here, and will continue to come until the Antichrist comes at the end of time. 1 Jn 2 :18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist s hall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the l ast time.