Mary isn’t the only person who was assumed, body and soul, by God at the end of her earthly life (Jesus “ascended” into heaven; read this for the difference). The Bible tells us about at least two other holy men of God who received a similar gift: Enoch and Elijah.
Enoch is something of an enigma. He’s mentioned in only 6 verses of the Old Testament book of Genesis, but what is said about him is fascinating:
“When Jared had lived 162 years, he became the father of Enoch. […] When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” (Genesis 5.18, 20-24)
Whoa! So Enoch was faithful, and then was taken away by God.
How was Enoch faithful? Why did God choose to take him away? Unfortunately, Scripture doesn’t say.
That hasn’t stopped people from trying to fill in the gaps: there are a number of apocryphal books about Enoch written long after Genesis that purport to tell “the rest of the story,” claiming that he was put in charge of angels and other incredible things.
Elijah was one of the most important prophets of the Old Testament. One day he was with his protégé Elisha, when “suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.” (2 Kings 2.11)
Elisha was dumbstruck, to say the least: “Elisha saw this,” Scripture says, “and cried out, ‘My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!’ And Elisha saw him no more.” (2 Kings 2.12)
Where did they go exactly?
While Mary definitely went to heaven, there is some debate about where exactly Enoch and Elijah went after being taken up by God. Did they go to heaven? Or did they go to the limbo of the patriarchs? Or to some other location?
St. Thomas Aquinas argued “Elijah was taken up into the atmospheric heaven, but not in to the empyrean heaven, which is the abode of the saints: and likewise Enoch was translated into the earthly paradise, where he is believed to live with Elias until the coming of Antichrist.”
Either way, it appears Enoch and Elijah both were taken up by God, body and soul, into some other realm, unlike most saints whose bodies remain on earth (at least until the resurrection at the end of the world).
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