This morning in church the service was about Elijah with the Baal's prophets. I read this verse and some questions arose which I could not find an answer on.

1 Kings 18:22 Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men.

The following questions arose:

  1. Was the Bible already written in the time of Elijah?
  2. If Elijah was the only prophet left, how can we make sure that the Baal's prophets did not corrupt the scriptures? And more in general, how can we make sure that none of the bad kings back in this time did not corrupt the scriptures?
  • 4
    Elijah was wrong -- there were still 7000 more (1 Kings 19:18)
    – Ryan Frame
    Jun 16, 2013 at 20:35

4 Answers 4


Just because there was only one prophet does not mean there were no priests or followers - prophets were messengers from God, priests actually served in the Temple, and adherents, well, they adhered. In Isaiah, the notion of the Remnant God's select people who remain true even when most fall away is well understood.

Additionally, it does not diminish the text for Elijah to have engaged in hyperbole. Even most inerrantists can accept that a human feeling all alone might exclaim, "I'm the only one left!"

Finally, if you read the context of 1 Kings 18 - you find just a few verses up (1 Kings 18:1 - 15) an encounter in which Elijah speaks with a fellow servant of the Lord - Obadiah - who would qualify as part of the remnant. And, as @RyanFrame points out, in 1 Kings 19:18, God reminds Elijah that he has "7000 who have not bended the knee".

To answer the related questions:

  1. Most scholars assume the books of the Torah to have been pretty well settled no later than 600 BC - and these events are less than 200 years away from that. Beyond that, the JEPD theory would argue that an iteration of the text was done as early as 1000BC - and depending on how liberal or conservative one is, there were no changes to some oral retelling changes in that time.

  2. Some historians like to state that Ba'al and El Shaddai / Yahweh were originally in one narrative together. The preserved Old Testament doesn't seem to reference this in any way, but other local myths do. This answer, in particular speaks to the Ugaritic and Cananite understandings of Ba'al, and his consort-like status to Yahweh. Theoretically, if the prophets of Ba'al had corrupted the Scriptures, they would have preserved the role of Ba'al. As it is, the only mentions of Ba'al are negative (disputing her actual existence) and as a misguided belief only. That they did not would seem to suggest that the preserved text was not influenced by the surrounding nations.

  • Ba'al was a god/goddess of fertility. I forget if it was supposed to be a he or a she. Please forgive my pronoun choices if I'm wrong. Jun 16, 2013 at 20:48
  • Ba'al was a he. He had a wife, I forget who (Asherah maybe?)
    – SSumner
    Jun 17, 2013 at 14:08
  • 1
    @SSumner wife and sister was Anat
    – user4060
    Jun 17, 2013 at 17:03

Elijah was living in the Northern kingdom of Israel. His words say nothing of the kingdom of Judah, which was more faithful.


Others have commented on the manuscript evidence and the fact that there were 7000 other faithful Jews who had not submitted to Baal in Elijah's day.

Add to this the fact that Elisha asked for and received a double portion of the Spirit of Elijah. In 2 Kings 2:

9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?”

“Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.

10 “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.”

Elisha was Elijah's direct successor.

However, the strongest evidence comes from Jesus. As the Son of God, his attitude toward the written scriptures is the one we should have. In Matthew 5, Jesus says:

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

If you follow every place where Jesus quotes the Old Testament, or makes judgments based on its reasoning, you will find his endorsement everywhere. He never challenged one thing as false, though he did correct misinterpretations. He quoted from or referenced most books of the Old Testament, meaning that we can trust them, too.

See http://www.bible.ca/b-canon-old-testament-quoted-by-jesus-and-apostles.htm where it says that Jesus quoted from 24 of the Old Testament Books.


First of all: what is in Torah are the teachings of God to Israel. Torah today contains these teachings. There are no Torah (Torah is the five books of Moses only)scrolls older than the 10th. cent. Most of Torah is oral teaching, which was passed down orally until the 3rd. cent A.D. when the oral Torah was finally written down. It is tradition that confirms that Torah today represents what God gave to Elijah.

The Church in the 3rd. century had no access to the Hebrew "bible" because there were no gentile Hebrew scholars in the Church - they had all been kicked out of the Church by then, and they wrote the "Old Testament" - the version that is in most English Bibles - from a Greek document called the Septuagint, which was a translation of Jewish documents with a few Greek additional books thrown in. It was condemned by the Judean authorities.

What Elijah did was teach the people by speaking to them, and most of what he said was not written down until the 5th cent. A.D. when the Babylonian Mishnah was written by the rabbis. Followed by the Jerusalem Mishnah. To see what Elijah taught (that is the Oral teachings,) you have to read a Jewish Bible - The Chumash, Stone edition, or the Etz Hayim, for example, which are five times thicker than the Pentateuch in the English Bible, and contain both Written and Oral Torah.

  • Um, one of the Dead Sea Scrolls was the Great Scroll of Isaiah, which at the latest could have been 200 AD and probably is much, much younger. So, no to say we have no scrolls older than the 10th century (aka 900 AD) is patently false. The Masoretic text is 10th century, and that's when we get vowel pointings finlly, but the data above is just wrong. Jun 24, 2013 at 10:06
  • Also, you are saying Elijah's word wasn't written down until 400Ad (5th century). That's wrong. Even at the latest, 5th Century bc (600s BC) remember you are less than 200 years from the time period of the events, and much possibly less. Jun 24, 2013 at 10:10
  • Isaiah is not part of Torah, which consists only of the five books of Moses.
    – Waeshael
    Jul 29, 2013 at 20:43
  • From Etz Hayim Study Companion ISBN9780827608221. "The oldest complete forms of the books of the Torah extant today are in manuscript copies, none of which is earlier than the 10th. cent. C.E."
    – Waeshael
    Aug 1, 2013 at 18:56

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