* Transfig. 1
* Transfig. 2
* Transfig. 3
* Mk 9:2-10 A
* Mk 9:2-10 B
* Old Test.
* Post Crus.
* Pictures 1
* Pictures 2
* Pictures 3
* Pictures 4
The Transfiguration in Mk 9:2-10 (A)
(by Claudio Bottini, ofm - translated by Lionel Goh ofm)
Much studies have been devoted to the story of the Transfiguration in Mark's
It can be noted that the Transfiguration story is found in all 3 Synoptic
Gospels (Mt 17:1-8; Mk 9:2-10; Lk 9:28-36) and at significant moments in the
narration of Jesus' earthly life. The author
of the 2nd Letter of Peter (2Pet 1:16-18), perhaps dependent on a
particular tradition, recalled this episode which served to rekindle in
christians the hope of the Parousia. The Transfiguration is a theme also
well-known in the apocryphal writings, even
among the Gnostics. In both eastern and
western patristic (and medieval) writings, the Transfiguration is highlighted
as theological, christological, spiritual, iconographic and liturgical
Some of these meanings are beautifully summarized in the Preface of the
2nd Sunday of Lent. In the official italian version of the Roman
Missal it says: "He [Jesus Christ]. After having announced his death to his
disciples, manifested on the mountain his glory; and by calling upon the
testimony of the Law and the Prophets, he indicated to his disciples that only
through the Passion are we able to reach the triumph of the Resurrection".
In modern and contemporary exegesis, almost all approaches and methods have
been applied in the study of the Gospels regarding the Transfiguration.
In this article, we will read the account of Mark; trying to gather the message
which the evangelist wanted to transmit to the christian community. Firstly I
will present the wider as well as the immediate contexts of the verses. Then I
will illustrate briefly the themes present in the account of the
Transfiguration according to Mark.
I. The Context and its meaning
Even though no general structure of Mark's Gospel has to date been accepted by
consensus among academics, the delimitation of the unit 8:27-10:52 is almost
totally agreed by whichever criteria is used to study it.
The literary unit clearly comprises 3 predictions of the Passion and the
Resurrection (8:31; 9:31; 10:33-34), followed by as many times the
incomprehension of the disciples (8:32-33; 9:32-34; 10:35-37) and the
successive teaching by Jesus (8:34-38; 9:35-50; 10:38-45). The formula "along
the way (in greek en te hodo) " which occurs at the beginning of
the pericope of Peter's confession (8:27) and at the end of the healing of the
blind man in Jericho (10:52), functions as an inclusion which delimits the
section; suggesting, as many commentators would have it, a narrative and
theological theme of "following Jesus".
Another significant element in the context is the parallel function of the two
healings of blind men which Mark recounts in 8:22-26 (the blind man of
Bethsaida) to indicate symbolically the healing of the disciples' incapacity
to understand the messianic identity of Jesus; and in 10:46-52 (the blind man
of Jericho) to indicate symbolically the healing of the disciples' incapacity
to understand the mystery of the suffering mission of Jesus which they
themselves are called to follow by way of the cross. Indeed the way which Jesus the Son of Man undertook and
which the disciples must follow (8:34; 9:38; 10:32.52) is that which leads to
Jerusalem where Jesus must suffer the Passion (10:32.52; 11:1 and 9:33-34;
10:17.46). It is likewise unanimously agreed that Mk 8:27-33 constitutes the
end of the 1st part of the Gospel and the beginning of the
2nd. This corresponds with the theme of Jesus' identity and that of
The above observations lead us to conclude that the account of the
Transfiguration belongs to a part of the central literary unit in Mark's
Gospel, 8:27-10:52. Within this unit the account is inserted in the subsection
8:22-9:29 which comprises the following minor units: 8:22-26 (the blind man of
Bethsaida), 8:27-30 (the opinions of men, the faith of Peter in Christ),
8:31-32a (the Son of Man must suffer, the 1st announcement of the
Passion and Resurrection), 8:32b-33 (incomprehension of the disciples),
8:34-9:1 (teaching on discipleship), 9:2-13 (the Transfiguration), 9:14-29
(healing of the epileptic possessed by a deaf-mute spirit). Without doubt this
context offers the 1st orientation in which the meaning of the
Transfiguration is understood within the narrative and theological thought of
Mark's Gospel. It is found between a dialectic of Jesus' identity and of the
conditions of discipleship.
The literary and thematic structure of 8:22-9:29 highlights the position
occupied by the Transfiguration account. The
scheme comprises a threefold movement: (1) prediction of the Passion, (2)
incomprehension of the disciples, (3) teaching by Jesus. The Transfiguration
account rests outside of this scheme and serves as a "catechetical complement"
or an "illustrative story" which complements Jesus' teaching. But perhaps it could be more precise. The teaching of
Jesus culminates in 9:1 with a saying that certainly contains a literary and
thematic connection with the Transfiguration account in 9:9. Mk 9:1 says "In
truth I say to you: there are some of you present who will not die without
having seen (an idosin) the Kingdom of God come with power" and 9:9
"While coming down from the mountain, he ordered them not to tell anyone what
they had seen (ha eidon), except when the Son of Man might be risen from
the dead". Here lies the correspondence between what some will see (9:1) and
what the 3 disciples had seen on the mount of Transfiguration (9:9).
On a thematic level this connection is reinforced when one considers the blind
man whom Jesus restores his eyesight (8:22-26) is probably a symbol of Peter
who sees and confesses the messianic identity of Jesus (8:27-30) and the 3
disciples who see the divine identity/glory of Christ transfigured (9:2-10).
Still on the thematic level, one may deduce from the Transfiguration story the
divine voice of the Father, which says "This is my beloved son; Listen to him!"
(9:7), constitutes a confirmation of the messianic identity of Jesus already
confessed by Peter, of the revelation of the suffering mission of the Son
(8:31-33) and the instruction on the necessity of suffering by the disciple
(8:34-38). On this final point, an ultimate confirmation could be derived from
the symbolic meaning of the healing of the deaf-mute epileptic boy
These observations on the immediate context conclude that the account of the
Transfiguration was inserted into a train of thought which centers on the
interwoven themes of the messianic and divine identity of Jesus and the
necessity for the disciples to suffer. Furthermore it can be added that the
Transfiguration was promised by Jesus himself at the end of the teaching (9:1)
as an event given to the disciples to strengthen and encourage their journey to
follow Jesus in his suffering. This served to assure them that such a journey
of suffering and death will lead to life and the glory of the Kingdom of God.
"Jesus promised that some of the disciples - for the good of the community -
will see in Jesus the Kingdom of God come in power; they will see his glory
which is the fruit of his death; the glory which he will receive in the
Resurrection as the 1st act of the Parousia."
 In the bibliography compiled by F.
Neyrinck and collaborators (The Gospel of Mark. A Cumulative
Bibliography:1950-1999 [BETL 102], Leuven 1992) are listed 95 authors who
have studied Mk 9:2-1. This excludes the list of those who have examined
individual verses of this pericope. 15 authors deal with this topic in specific
monographs or noteworthy contributions.
 X. Leon-Dufour, "The Transfiguration of
Jesus", in Studi sul Vangelo (La Parola di Dio 2), 3rd ed.,
Cinisello Balsamo 1974, 105-157, maintains that it is possible to see a
transposition of events leading from the existence of the Incarnate Word to its
"crystallization" in Jn 12:20-32 (p.149).
 The Apocalypse of Peter 15-17; The
Acts of Peter 20; The Acts of John 90; The Acts of Thomas
 Pistis Sophia I, 2-6.
 Cf. E. Nardoni, La Transfiguracion de
Jesus y el dialogo sobre Elias segun el Evangelio de San Marcos (Teologia:
Estudios y Documentos 2), Buenos Aires 1976, 25 and notes 3-7.
 Similar meanings are also expressed in the
Preface of the Feast of the Transfiguration in the Roman Missal.
 Cf. C. Clivaz, "La Transfiguration au risque
de la comprehension du disciple: Mc 9/2-10". Etudes Theologiques et
Religieuses 70 (1995) 493-508.
 Cf. J. Dupont, "Il cieco di Gerico
riacquista la vista e segue Gesu (Mc 10:46-52)", Parola Spirito e Vita 2
 Cf. I. De la Potterie, "La confessione
messianica di Pietro in Marco 8,27-33", in San Pietro. Atti della XIX
Settimana Biblica, Brescia 1967, 59-77; V. Fusco, Parola e Regno. La
sezione delle parabole / Marco 4,1-34 / nella prospettiva marciana
(Aloisiana 13), Brescia 1980, 129 and 115-132; K. Stock, "Vangelo e discepolato
in Marco", Rassegna di Teologia 19 (1978) 1-7.
 Some authors claim that between 8:22-9:29
it is possible to find a chiastic structure according to the scheme: A
(8:22-26); B (8:27.28); C(8:29.30); D(8:31-33); E (8:34-9:1); D' (9:2-6); C'
(9:7-8.9-10); B' (9:11-13); A' (9:14-29). Cf. Nardoni, La
Transfiguracion, 40-41 and authors cited.
 Cf I. De la Potterie, "La confessione messianica di Pietro in Marco
8,27-33", in San Pietro. Atti della XIX Settimana Biblica, Brescia 1967,
59-77; V. Fusco, Parola e Regno. La sezione delle parabole / Marco 4, 1-34 /
nella prospettiva marciana (Aloisiana 13), Brescia 1980, 129 e 115-132; K.
Stock, "Vangelo e discepolato in Marco", Rassegna di Teologia 19 (1978)
 Nardoni, La Transfiguracion,