take up the mantle


Senior Member
Korea, Korean
People in the community are encouraged to find their niche, right where they live, where they can take up the mantle for social responsibility and continue carrying it forth into the future.

This is from an article about volunteerism.
I'd like to know what the phrase in bold means.
It seems to be idiomatic.
  • GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    It is a well-known figure of speech, but it is being used incorrectly here.

    The origin is the Biblical story of the prophet Elijah and his successor Elisha. Elijah first made Elisha his disciple by casting his mantle on him.

    Later, as Elijah was being taken up into heave, he left his mantle behind, and Elisha took up his mantle, and in doing so took on the responsibilities of his predecessor.

    As a result, to take up someone's mantle is to act as that person did in some way. The error here is to say "to take up the mantle", as we are not naming the person whose mantle it was, and whose succesors the community members will be.
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