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Transfiguration Service

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The Transfiguration

The Transfiguration of Jesus is an event reported in the Gospels in which Jesus was transfigured upon a mountain (Matthew 17:1-6, Mark 9:1-8, Luke 9:28-36). The original Greek term in the Gospels is metamorphothe, describing Jesus as having undergone metamorphosis.

The Gospels state that Jesus led three of his apostles - Peter, John the Apostle, and James the Great - to pray at the top of a mountain. Once at the top, Jesus became transfigured, his face shining like the sun, and his clothes a brilliant white. They claim that Elijah and Moses suddenly appeared with Jesus and talked with him; Matthew and Mark do not say what the conversation was about, but Luke states that it was about Jesus' future death. Once they had spoken with each other, the Gospels state that a bright cloud appeared overhead, and a voice from Heaven proclaimed, "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased," paralleling a similar event during the Baptism of Jesus.

Traditionally, the event was considered to have literally happened, and it was believed that the event took place on Mount Tabor. Some modern scholars however, together with the ancient gnostics, believe that the Synoptic Gospels were originally meant to be understood allegorically. Moses and Elijah have been interpreted to represent the Law and the Prophets respectively, and their recognition and conversation with Jesus symbolising how Jesus fulfils "the law and the prophets" (Matthew 5:17-19).

In the narrative, after the cloud dissipates, Elijah and Moses disappear, and Jesus and the three Apostles head down the mountain, Jesus telling his Apostles to keep the event a secret until a/the Son of Man had risen from the dead

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Last Modified Saturday 09 June 2012