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Author Topic: Two men dressed in white, Ascension Moses and Elijah?  (Read 2431 times)

Peter Gabriel

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Okay, so I heard it read from a Catholic devotional book (an odd one) that in Acts 1 where it talks about the 'two men dressed in white" that these were Moses and Elijah.  Is this just a made up thing, or is there a tradition behind this?  Thanks.

Acts 1:[9] And when he had said these things, while they looked on, he was raised up: and a cloud received him out of their sight. [10] And while they were beholding him going up to heaven, behold two men stood by them in white garments.

[11] Who also said: Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven? This Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, as you have seen him going into heaven.

EcceQuamBonum

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Okay, so I heard it read from a Catholic devotional book (an odd one) that in Acts 1 where it talks about the 'two men dressed in white" that these were Moses and Elijah.  Is this just a made up thing, or is there a tradition behind this?  Thanks.

Acts 1:[9] And when he had said these things, while they looked on, he was raised up: and a cloud received him out of their sight. [10] And while they were beholding him going up to heaven, behold two men stood by them in white garments.

[11] Who also said: Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven? This Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, as you have seen him going into heaven.

Personally, I've always just assumed that the men are Moses and Elijah because of the rather clear parallels between the Ascension and the Transfiguration accounts.  I don't know what tradition there is to substantiate this, but it always made sense to me.
More an antique Roman than an Anglican.

"Sero Te amavi, Pulchritudo tam antiqua et tam nova.  Sero Te amavi!"-Confessions, X.27

"The Christians of Carthage have an excellent name for the sacraments, when they say that baptism is nothing else than 'Salvation,' and the sacrament of the Body of Christ nothing else than 'Life.'"
--St. Augustine, De peccatorum meritis et remissione, et de baptismo parvulorum ad Marcellinum, I.34

SaintSebastian

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Interesting, I've never heard that interpretation before. Sounds plausible though.

On the other hand, it seems the more common understanding is that they are angels. Here's part of a homily where St. John Chrysostom draws some parallels with other events where angels were present:

Quote
"And while they looked steadfastly," it is said, "toward heaven, as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, You men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven"— they used the expression "This" demonstratively, saying, "this Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall thus"— demonstratively, "in this way"— "come in like manner as you have seen Him going into heaven." (v. 10-11.) Again, the outward appearance is cheering ["in white apparel"]. They were Angels, in the form of men. And they say, "You men of Galilee:" they showed themselves to be trusted by the disciples, by saying, "You men of Galilee." For this was the meaning: else, what needed they to be told of their country, who knew it well enough? By their appearance also they attracted their regard, and showed that they were from heaven. But wherefore does not Christ Himself tell them these things, instead of the Angels? He had beforehand told them all things; ["What if you shall see the Son of Man] going up where He was before?" John 6:62.

Moreover the Angels did not say, 'whom you have seen taken up,' but, "going into heaven:" ascension is the word, not assumption; the expression "taken up," belongs to the flesh. For the same reason they say, "He which is taken up from you shall thus come," not, "shall be sent," but, "shall come. He that ascended, the same is he also that descended" Ephesians 4:10. So again the expression, "a cloud received Him:" for He Himself mounted upon the cloud. Of the expressions, some are adapted to the conceptions of the disciples, some agreeable with the Divine Majesty. Now, as they behold, their conceptions are elevated: He has given them no slight hint of the nature of His second coming. For this, "Shall thus come," means, with the body; which thing they desired to hear; and, that he shall come again to judgment "thus" upon a cloud. "And, behold, two men stood by them." Why is it said, "men?" Because they had fashioned themselves completely as such, that the beholders might not be overpowered. "Which also said:" their words moreover were calculated for soothing: "Why stand ye gazing up into heaven?" They would not let them any longer wait there for Him. Here again, these tell what is greater, and leave the less unsaid. That "He will thus come," they say, and that "ye must look for Him from heaven." For the rest, they called them off from that spectacle to their saying, that they might not, because they could not see Him, imagine that He was not ascended, but even while they are conversing, would be present ere they were aware. For if they said on a former occasion, "Where are You going?" John 13:36 much more would they have said it now.

"Will You at this time," say they, "restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Recapitulation). They so well knew his mildness, that after His Passion also they ask Him, "Will you restore?" And yet He had before said to them, "You shall hear of wars and rumors of wars, but the end is not yet," nor shall Jerusalem be taken. But now they ask Him about the kingdom, not about the end. And besides, He does not speak at great length with them after the Resurrection. They address then this question, as thinking that they themselves would be in high honor, if this should come to pass. But He (for as touching this restoration, that it was not to be, He did not openly declare; for what needed they to learn this? Hence they do not again ask, "What is the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the world?" for they are afraid to say that: but, "Will You restore the kingdom to Israel?" for they thought there was such a kingdom), but He, I say, both in parables had shown that the time was not near, and here where they asked, and He answered thereto, "You shall receive power," says He, "when the Holy Ghost has come upon you. Is come upon you," not, "is sent," [to show the Spirit's coequal Majesty. How then do you dare, O opponent of the Spirit, to call Him a creature ?]. "And you shall be witnesses to Me." He hinted at the Ascension. [And when he had spoken these things. ] Which they had heard before, and He now reminds them of. ["He was taken up."] Already it has been shown, that He went up into heaven. ["And a cloud, etc."] "Clouds and darkness are under His feet," Psalm 18:9; 97:2 says the Scripture: for this is declared by the expression, "And a cloud received Him:" the Lord of heaven, it means. For as a king is shown by the royal chariot, so was the royal chariot sent for Him. [Behold, two men, etc.] That they may vent no sorrowful exclamations, and that it might not be with them as it was with Elisha, 2 Kings 2:12 who, when his master was taken up, rent his mantle. And what say they? "This Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall thus come." And, "Behold, two men stood by them." Matthew 18:16 With good reason: for "in the mouth of two witnesses shall every word be established" Deuteronomy 17:6: and these utter the same things. And it is said, that they were "in white apparel." In the same manner as they had already seen an Angel at the sepulchre, who had even told them their own thoughts; so here also an Angel is the preacher of His Ascension; although indeed the Prophets had frequently foretold it, as well as the Resurrection.

Everywhere it is Angels as at the Nativity, "for that which is conceived in her," says one, "is by the Holy Ghost" Matthew 1:20: and again to Mary, "Fear not, Mary." Luke 1:30 And at the Resurrection: "He is not here; He is risen, and goes before you." Luke 24:6 "Come, and see!" Matthew 28:6 And at the Second Coming. For that they may not be utterly in amaze, therefore it is added, "Shall thus come." Matthew 25:31 They recover their breath a little; if indeed He shall come again, if also thus come, and not be unapproachable! And that expression also, that it is "from them" He is taken up, is not idly added. And of the Resurrection indeed Christ Himself bears witness (because of all things this is, next to the Nativity, nay even above the Nativity, the most wonderful: His raising Himself to life again): for, "Destroy," He says, "this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up." John 2:19 "Shall thus come," say they. If any therefore desires to see Christ; if any grieves that he has not seen Him: having this heard, let him show forth an admirable life, and certainly he shall see Him, and shall not be disappointed. For Christ will come with greater glory, though "thus," in this manner, with a body ; and much more wondrous will it be to see Him descending from heaven. But for what He will come, they do not add.

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/210102.htm

Revixit

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Yes, the men are Moses and Elijah.  When you have a question like this, remember that the main Fisheaters site has a search engine.  Enter "Transfiguration" et voila:

"Recall the prophecy of Daniel:

Daniel 7:13-14:
I beheld, therefore, in the vision of the night, and lo, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and he came even to the ancient of days: and they presented him before him. And he gave him power, and glory, and a kingdom: and all peoples, tribes, and tongues shall serve him: his power is an everlasting power that shall not be taken away: and his kingdom that shall not be destroyed.
Today we recall when Moses, representing the Law, and Elias (Elijah), representing the Prophets -- two men who had special visions of God -- appear with Jesus on on Mt. Tabor (Matthew 17, Mark 9, Luke 9). There the Apostles see the Divine Uncreated Light shine forth from Our Lord, Who'd told them previously that He must die and be resurrected.

Matthew 17:1-8
And after six days Jesus taketh unto him Peter and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart: And he was transfigured before them. And his face did shine as the sun: and his garments became white as snow. And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with him.

And Peter answering, said to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.

And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them. And lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him.

And the disciples hearing, fell upon their face, and were very much afraid. And Jesus came and touched them: and said to them, Arise, and fear not. And they lifting up their eyes saw no one but only Jesus. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying: Tell the vision to no man, till the Son of man be risen from the dead.
Christ, as the Temple Who would be raised up three days after 'it' was torn down, shows that He is, indeed, He in Whom the glory dwells. As the Creed says, "Deum de Deo, Lumen de lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero" (God from God, Light from Light, true God of true God).

Of significance to this Feast is what it reveals about true Judaism. From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

False Judaism had rejected the Messias, and now true Judaism, represented by Moses and Elias, the Law and the Prophets, recognized and adored Him, while for the second time God the Father proclaimed Him His only-begotten and well-loved Son.

St. John Chrysostom writes more about the appearance of Moses and Elias in his Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew:"

To read the rest, including what St. John Chrysostom wrote,  go to

http://www.fisheaters.com/customstimeafterpentecost5.html


May the Sacred Heart of Jesus have mercy on us.

Vita sine libris mors est.

Peter Gabriel

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Thanks guys for the comments, very interesting.  Revixit, thanks for the tip.  I did use the search engine, however I was not looking for information on the Transfiguration.


Tim

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For the Transfiguration you're right, it is in Scripture. For the Ascension it's two angels they are not Moses and Elijah.
tim