Jessica White | Staff Writer
The Prophet Elijah is a major character for interfaith dialogue, because he appears in Christian, Jewish and Muslim texts, said Rabbi Samuel M. Stahl.
Stahl said he has always been fascinated by the stories and characteristics of Elijah, and he will discuss the prophet during his Jewish Thought Series from 3:30–4:45 p.m. today in the Hall of Christ. His lecture is titled “Elijah: Miracle Worker and Prophet Who Never Died,” and no registration is required.
Elijah is one of few biblical characters who became immortal. He was lifted to heaven in a flaming chariot, and it is implied that he will return to Earth at the end of time, Stahl said. In Christian thought, he becomes a model for John the Baptist, and in the New Testament, he appears with Moses during the transfiguration of Christ.
In Jewish tradition, Elijah appears in several rituals like Passover and brit milah — the circumcision of one-week-old boys.
Stahl will focus on Jewish and Christian interpretations of the prophet, but he said the Thought Series is open to people of all or no faiths.
“In fact, at my lectures, the larger percentage of people who come are not Jewish,” he said. “It’s open to all; it’s an educational experience.”
Senior rabbi for 26 years at Temple Beth-El in San Antonio, Texas, Stahl is a rabbi emeritus. In 1998, he first visited Chautauqua as a 2 p.m. religion lecturer, and he is now an associate of the Department of Religion.
Stahl has led several Jewish Thought Series every summer for the past eight years, and he said he aims to focus on different aspects of Jewish thought for each lecture. His topics are rarely based on the week’s theme.
He said he is always interested in how a biblical character like Elijah is treated in modern religious thought.
“Elijah is a main advance in interfaith understanding, because he’s an important figure in all three Abrahamic faiths,” Stahl said.