The episode of the Transfiguration of Jesus plays a key role in the narrative of the Synoptic Gospels. Peter and his fellow Apostles have just acknowledged Jesus to be Israel’s long-awaited Messiah, and have been shocked by Jesus’ immediate prediction of his coming passion and death. Now Peter, James and John are allowed to share an extraordinary vision, marking him out as truly God’s own Son, radiant with divine glory. Early Christian commentators and preachers recognized the crucial importance of this incident for Christian faith and discipleship, as pointing in advance to the power of the cross and resurrection of Christ. The liturgical feast of the Transfiguration, anticipating that of the Exaltation of the Cross by forty days, came to be celebrated in the Eastern and Western Churches, beginning in the seventh century; yet since at least the third century, theologians have reflected on the significance of this event for the life of faith. This volume brings together, in a new translation, a comprehensive collection of homilies on the Transfiguration of Christ from the Greek Patristic and Medieval Church, from Origen in the third century to St. Gregory Palamas in the fourteenth. Together they form a profound and moving set of meditations, from many perspectives and in many voices, on “the light of the recognition of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor 4:6), and on its importance for our lives.
“But our Lord Jesus Christ had that brilliance from within himself; therefore he had no need for prayer to illuminate his body with divine light, but he revealed it from the same source from which the brilliance of God is bestowed on the holy ones, and in the same way it is made visible to them. For the righteous, too, will ‘shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father,’22 and so, becoming wholly divine light, as offspring of the divine light, they shall gaze on the one who outshines them in a divine and ineffable way, whose glory, naturally coming forth from his divinity and possessed in common by his body, was revealed on Thabor through the unity of his hypostasis. So it was also through this light that ‘his face shone like the sun.’” (Page 362)
“Andrew also interprets the ‘bright cloud’ overshadowing the mountain as a figure of the Holy Spirit, implying that it is only by receiving the Spirit ourselves in baptism that we can enter into a full and participative understanding of the Trinity. Andrew concludes his homily with a powerful exhortation to his hearers to allow God to complete in them the work of transfiguration in Christ.” (Page 35)
“But Moses and Elijah—especially Moses, who existed as a soul without a body—how could they have been seen and been full of glory by means of perceptible light? For ‘they appeared in glory at that moment, and spoke about the exodus which he was to bring to fulfillment in Jerusalem.’30 How did the Apostles, who had never seen them before, recognize them, except by the revelatory power of that light?” (Page 365)