« PreviousContinue »
35. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my Son, my chosen: hear ye him.
36. And when the voice came Jesus was found alone. And they held their peace, and told no man in those days any of the things which they had seen.
35. Καὶ φωνὴ ἐγένετο ἐκ τῆς νεφέλης λέγουσα: Οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ Υἱός μου ὁ ἐκλελεγμένος: αὐτοῦ ἀκούετε.
36. Καὶ ἐν τῷ γενέσθαι
In the second verse of the text of Matthew the common reading of the Greek codices is ὡς τὸ φῶς. D has ὡς χιών, and this reading is adopted by the Vulgate, Ethiopian, and Curetonian Syriac. In Verse three, the singular woon is found in, B, and D; the other codices have p0noav. In the fourth verse, B, C et al. have the singular Tonow, which reading is adopted by the Revised Edition of Oxford. Most authorities have toιnowμev. In the ninth verse, B and D have eyepon: the other authorities have avaσT?. In the eleventh verse πрŵτоν is found in C, E, F, G, K, M, S, U, V, Z, г, ▲, II, et al. It is also found in the Ethiopian version and in both Syriac versions. Notwithstanding this weight of authority, we believe that the term has been interpolated into the text of the codices to bring it into accord with Mark's text.
In the third verse of Mark is xiv is added in A, D, N, X, T, et al. This reading is followed by the Gothic version, by both Syriac versions, and by most of the codices of the Vulgate. The Codex Fuldensis of the Vulgate omits the reading. In Verse ten, D and some cursive MSS. have oтav EK veкpŵv ȧvaσty. This reading is followed by the Vulgate and the Syriac. In the eleventh verse and L read oi Papioaîoɩ kai οἱ Γραμματεῖς. This reading has the endorsement of the Vulgate and of Tischendorf, but it can scarcely be called a probable reading. In the twelfth verse ȧтокpileis eiπev is found in many codices. This reading is adopted by the Vulgate. B, C, L and ▲ have ễon, which is followed by the Coptic and Syriac versions. In the same verse we find κaðès уéураπтаι instead of καὶ πῶς γέγραπται in A, Κ, Μ, Δ, Π, et al.
In Verse thirty-four of Luke N, B, L, et al. have èπeoxíalev: the other codices have éπeoxíaσev. In the thirty-fifth verse we
find exλeλeyμévos in N, B, L, and Z. This reading is adopted by the Sahidic and Bohairic versions. The other authorities have ὁ ἀγαπητός.
It was decreed in the eternal counsels of God that Christ should save the world by the cross. Therefore he looked forward to that event as the grand consummation of his life. But, during the mortal life of the Lord, the Apostles could not comprehend the place which the cross held in the divine plan of salvation. We remember how, at Cæsarea Philippi, Peter remonstrated with Jesus for having declared that he must undergo suffering and death. Wherefore it was necessary to prepare the Apostles for the terrible event of the Crucifixion by showing them some scintillation of the divine glory of Jesus, which he veiled in order to save the world. And so on the mount he is transfigured before them, that they might not afterward stumble at the sight of their Master's sufferings. There was danger that when the Apostles should see their great Master torn and bleeding, staggering under a cross, and then dying on it, that their trust in him might waver; hence they were prepared by the Transfiguration for the day of Calvary. And not only they, but also the whole world is taught thereby who it was who died for man. The transcendent glory, the apparition of Moses and Eliah, and the voice of God out of the cloud all testify that Jesus was the son of God. Jesus Christ was true man; the Apostles saw much of Jesus as man. He ate with them, and drank with them. They saw him sleep in the boat on Gennesaret; they saw him sitting down to rest when wearied at Jacob's well in Samaria. He lived their common life; and was in form and fashion a man. But he was also God. This was harder to realize. But belief in the Divinity of Jesus was necessary that men might be saved; wherefore, at times, the transcendent power and glory of the Divinity of Jesus burst forth to hold men faithful in their belief in his two natures. The Transfiguration is one of these full, incontestable proofs that Jesus was the Son of God.
It was opportune at the time it was given; for that night was approaching of which Jesus declared: "All ye shall be made to stumble in me this night: for it is written: I will
smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad."-Matt. XXVI. 31.
Regarding the time of the Transfiguration there is a slight discrepancy between SS. Matthew and Mark, and Luke. Both Matthew and Mark declare that the Transfiguration took place six days after the events at Cæsarea Philippi. Whereas Luke affirms that the Transfiguration occurred "about eight days after these sayings."
In solving this difficulty we must note that in employing the term woei, "about," St. Luke admits that he is not defining the duration of time with mathematical precision. And again, very probably Luke included the day from which the computation is reckoned as one of the eight days, and also the day of the Transfiguration; whereas the other two may have omitted both in their method of reckoning the interval.
Jesus takes up into the mount with him Peter, the prince of the Apostles, and the two sons of Zebedee, James and John. We have before noted that the Lord accorded to these a certain pre-eminence. He selected them as the witnesses of the raising of the daughter of Jairus, and as witnesses of the agony in the garden. We remember also that James and John were called by Jesus the sons of thunder. It is easy to understand that Jesus should favor Peter more than the other Apostles. James was the first martyr of the apostolic college, and John enjoyed in a special manner the love of Jesus. He who knew all the secrets of hearts knows best why he chose Peter to be the prince of the Apostles, and why he favored James and John in an especial manner
The next question that occupies our attention is the site of the event. The tradition is old that assigns Mount Tabor as the mount of the Transfiguration. In his commentary on the eighty-ninth Psalm, Origen declares: "Tabor is a mountain of Galilee, where the Lord was worshipped. Cyril of Jerusalem, and St. Jerome also support this opinion. Tabor is held in veneration to-day by the Franciscan monks of the East as the site of the Transfiguration. They have a chapel on its summit, where pilgrims say Mass. There are also on its summit ruins of an ancient Christian church
Mount Tabor rises out of the Plain of Esdraelon like a great solitary cone. Its altitude above the sea level of the Mediterranean is about two thousand feet. It is thirteen hundred feet higher than the Plain of Esdraelon. It is distant from Nazareth about three hours' ride on horseback. That the natural character of the mountain could fit the description of the event in the Gospels, no one can doubt. It can justly be called a high mountain, for it is the highest mountain of Lower Galilee. Nevertheless, many modern writers reject the tradition which fixes this event on Tabor. Among these modern writers may be mentioned Patrizi, Schegg, Schanz, Fillion, Keil, Mansel, and Geike. These contend that from intrinsic reasons and historical reasons the event can not be placed on Tabor. The opponents of the tradition concerning Tabor assert that, even in the third century before Christ, there was a fortified village on the summit of Tabor, whereas the Gospel narrative plainly indicates that the Transfiguration took place in a desert region. This argument is poorly answered by saying that the village may have become a ruin. There is no historical proof that the village ceased to be inhabited; but on the contrary Josephus in Wars of the Jews, II. XX. 6, declares that Mount Tabor (Tò 'Iтaßúρiov ŏpos) was one of the important places which he fortified. The manner in which he includes Tabor with other villages clearly shows that the top of the mount itself was a village. Again in the Wars of the Jews, IV. I. 8, Josephus declares that on the top of Mount Tabor was a plateau having an area of twenty-six stadia completely surrounded by a wall. He speaks in the same place of the dwellers of the top of the mount, declaring that they were dependent for their water supply on rain water. He also asserts that after a successful attack by Placidus, the dwellers of Tabor surrendered to Placidus. The fact that Josephus here designates the inhabitants of Tabor as the eπixápio is evidence that at his time there was a village on the summit of the mount.
The strongest argument against Tabor is drawn from the subsequent text of Mark, IX. 30-33; "And they went forth from thence, and passed through Galilee And they
came to Capharnaum. " It is rightly argued that the expres
sion, "they passed through Galilee" could not reasonably be employed to describe the short journey from Tabor to Capharnaum. The distance from Tabor to Capharnaum is reckoned by Frère Liévin de Hamme as a journey of eight hours on horseback.
Again, the expression, "they went forth from thence, and passed through Galilee" clearly indicates that the site of the Transfiguration was not in Galilee. Now Tabor is in Galilee, close by Nazareth and Capharnaum. Moreover, the last event with which the Synoptists were occupied before the Transfiguration was near Cæsarea Philippi. It would seem incongruous in them to pass to describe an event on Tabor in Lower Galilee without some account of the journey down to Tabor from Cæsarea Philippi.
The passage, "Tabor and Hermon rejoice in thy name,' which occurs in Psalm LXXXIX. 12, has no bearing on the present question. The two mountains are there spoken of solely on account of their altitude.
Moved by these considerations, we believe that the site of the Transfiguration can not be placed on Tabor.
In seeking the site of the great event, we note that nothing is narrated by any Evangelist as having occurred between the confession of Peter near Cæsarea Philippi and the Transfiguration. It is true that an interval of six days intervened between the two events, and in that time the Lord and his Apostles could have traveled far from Cæsarea Philippi; but had they done so, it seems probable that at least the eye-witness Matthew would have told us of the journey. Moreover, the fact that the band had to "go out from thence" before "passing through Galilee," leads us to believe that the Transfiguration took place near Cæsarea Philippi. Now, the southern ramifications of the great Hermon mountain range come very close to Cæsarea Philippi. In fact, the city is at an elevation of upwards of thirteen hundred feet above the level of the MediterTo the northeast stretches the Hermon range, in length about ten miles. The highest peak of the range is over nine thousand feet high. The elevations of land round about Cæsarea Philippi might be called the outposts of the great peak of the Hermon range. The higher peaks of the Hermon range