Lectionary Year A
February 10, 2002
Matthew 17:1-9

Step II: Disposition

A. Genre

(JFC) These verses read like an eye-witness account. The appearances of Jesus' countenance, to say nothing of Moses' and Elijah's appearances at the time so many centuries after their demises, are matter-of-factly written and the conversations, as well as the voice out of the extra-ordinary cloud, are reported without any evaluative comments. The first five verses of the written record read so unemotionally and almost lifelessly, one wonders if the stoics have gotten hold of it and re-written it.

B. Personal Interaction

(JFC) This text has always raised several questions - how does this account relate to what precedes it, why these particular disciples, how did Jesus' appearance get changed/transformed, why and/or why not build the temporary structures, why no further comments, re: the disappearance of Moses and Elijah and why keep the vision a secret till after He is raised? So, what have we here? Is it a fabricated story, or even a miracle, a fantasy, a dream, a myth, an illusion, an hallucination, or what? Jesus calls it a vision (o[rama). Wonder how other translations translate that word and/or how the commentaries comment on the use of that word at that place. And, perhaps more importantly, what does this event mean to say to the community to and for whom it is transpiring?

(DH)QUESTIONS/OBSERVATIONS/ROUGH TRANSLATION ISSUES

- "Metamorphaesis" not just a "transfiguration," but a change of the "Gestalt," like a transformation from caterpillar to butterfly

Movement of the Text (as I perceive it)
- State of bumbling innocence (no care in the world, all is fine)
- Suddenly things change and the familiar turns unfamiliar
- Fear takes hold
- Moving out of the shadows of the valley of fear and death "and when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone"

Matth 3:17 and 17:5 = this is my Son, the Beloved (baptism and transfiguration)
-> does our transfiguration already begin with our baptism?!

IMMEDIATE CONTEXT

16:24-28
take up your cross and follow me if you want to be my disciples (up the mountain?)
saving and losing one's life = a counterintuitive notion
the Son of Man is to come with the angels in the glory of his Father (the transfiguration - a foretaste of his coming?)
truly, I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom
-> Peter, James and John had not tasted death when they went up that mountain with Jesus there is was, the Kingdom right before their very eyes?!

17:14-21
a test of faith (of the disciples) connected with healing
nothing will be impossible for those who have faith
should the disciples have had that kind of faith since they witnessed the power of God with their own eyes, since they had seen the Kingdom with their own eyes?

BROADER CONTEXT
Ex 24:12-18 " now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain "

Ex. 34:29 Moses comes down the mountain and "the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God"
->"shining ones" -> a sign for those who have been in the presence of the Living God

Dan 10:9-12 " I heard the sound of his words; and when I heard the sound of his words I fell into a trance, face to the ground. But then a hand touched me and roused me to my hands and knees pay attention to the words I am going to speak to you do not fear, Daniel "

C. Organization

(JFC) The three disciples are named in the first verse. Jesus' transformed appearance is in the second verse. The temporary shelters are suggested in the fourth verse. The eighth verse reports that Moses and Elijah have disappeared. Jesus' instruction to keep the event a secret comes in the last verse.

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