Transfiguration of Jesus

Article

August 19, 2022

The transfiguration of Jesus is an episode in the life of Jesus described in the Synoptic Gospels Matthew 17: 1-8; Mark 9: 2-8 and Luke 9: 28-36. The corresponding and homonymous feast is celebrated on August 6 by the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and other Christian denominations in memory of the biblical episode. Jesus reveals to the three beloved disciples the Body of the True Man and True God, which all twelve will see after the resurrection of Jesus from the death on the cross.

The transfiguration of Jesus Christ

The transfiguration

The episode of the transfiguration is narrated in the three synoptic gospels (Mark 9: 2-8, Matthew 17: 1-8, Luke 9: 28-36), after Peter's confession. According to these texts Jesus, after having withdrawn himself with the disciples Peter, James and John, changed his appearance showing himself to the three disciples with an extraordinary splendor of the person and an amazing whiteness of his clothes. In this context there is the appearance of Moses and Elijah conversing with Jesus and a voice is heard, coming from a cloud, declaring the divine sonship of Jesus. The splendor of Christ recalls his transcendence, the presence of Moses and Elijah it symbolizes the law and the prophets who announced both the coming of the Messiah and his passion and glorification; the cloud refers to theophanies already documented in the Old Testament. According to Elisha's vision reported in 2 Kings 1.15-18; 2: 1-6, Elijah was raptured to heaven without death; according to Deuteronomy, 32:49 and 34, however, Moses had died before reaching the Promised Land, because like Aaron he had not glorified God after the discovery of the spring located at Meribah of Kadesh.

The place of the transfiguration

A tradition already attested in the fourth century by Cyril of Jerusalem and Jerome identifies the place where the transfiguration would have taken place with Mount Tabor, in Arabic Gebel et-Tur ("the mountain"). A rounded and isolated hill, 588 m a.s.l., or about 400 meters above the level of the surrounding valleys. It is on this hill that the Byzantines will then build three churches mentioned by the Anonymous Piacentino who will visit them in 570. A century later Arculfo will find a large number of monks there, and the Commemoratorium de Casis Dei (9th century) will mention the bishopric of Tabor with eighteen monks serving four churches. Later there will be the Benedictines who will also build an abbey, surrounding the buildings with a fortified wall. Destroyed entirely by Sultan al-Malik al-'dil (1211-12) to build a fortress, the Christians will return there again, building a sanctuary. This too will be destroyed by order of Sultan Baybars (1263), leaving the mountain desolately abandoned for over four centuries. Only in 1631 the Franciscans with the Custos of the Holy Land Diego Campanile will be able to take possession of Mount Tabor. Two centuries later, in 1854, they will begin to study the ruins of the past, starting new constructions that will culminate with the current three-nave basilica, designed and built by the architect Antonio Barluzzi, which will be inaugurated in 1924. As an alternative to Mount Tabor, it is assumed that the "high mountain" mentioned in the Gospels is Mount Hermon. Generally, the reasons given in favor of this mountain reside in the fact that some ruins on Mount Tabor indicate that a fortified city was already flourishing before the first century, in fact the top of Tabor constituted a strategic position and very suitable for such a city. . Hence the doubt that the transfiguration of Jesus would have taken place on Mount Tabor, since the Gospels say instead that Jesus and his three companions were on the mountain "apart", "alone", "in a solitary place". Furthermore, shortly before the transfiguration, Jesus was near Caesarea Philippi at the headwaters of the Jordan River, a city located at the southwestern base of the high Mount Hermon. - Matthew 16:13; 17.1, 2; Mark 8.27; 9.2. The transfiguration and the a