Transfiguration, six days, & Daniel the prophet.

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Ben C. Smith
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Transfiguration, six days, & Daniel the prophet.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Mon Jan 08, 2018 3:49 pm

Pursuant to my investigation into the legend of Peter on the mountain, I have been mulling over the notice in Matthew and Mark that the Transfiguration of Jesus occurred 6 days after the incident near Caesarea Philippi:

Matthew 17.1: 1 And after six days Jesus takes with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and leads them up on a high mountain by themselves.

Mark 9.2a: 2a And after six days Jesus takes with Him Peter and James and John, and brings them up on a high mountain by themselves.

Luke 9.28 has "about eight days" instead of "after six days," for reasons which are both obscure and possibly not relevant to the six days of Matthew and Mark.

There have been many explanations for the six days here, and the following passages have been adduced as parallels at one time or another:

Exodus 24.16: 16 And the glory of Yahweh rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; and on the seventh day He called to Moses from the midst of the cloud.

Exodus 16.26: 26 "Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the sabbath, there will be none."

Joshua 6.3-4: 3 "And you shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days. 4 Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets."

John 12.1: 1 Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover [πρὸ ἓξ ἡμερῶν τοῦ πάσχα], came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.

My problem with the parallel in Exodus 24.16 is that Moses spent those six days on the mountain, whereas the Transfiguration happens on the mountain only after six days, rather than for their duration. The sabbath week, symbolizing the days of creation, is an intriguing possibility. But I am not sure the passages from Joshua and John are really relevant in the most direct way.

Origen notices that 6 is a perfect number and relates the six days to the days of creation:

Origen, Commentary on Matthew 12.36: 36 "Now after six days," according to Matthew and Mark, "He takes with him Peter and James and John his brother, and leads them up into a high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them." Now, also, let it be granted, before the exposition that occurs to us in relation to these things, that this took place long ago, and according to the letter. But it seems to me, that those who are led up by Jesus into the high mountain, and are deemed worthy of beholding His transfiguration apart, are not without purpose led up six days after the discourses previously spoken. For since in six days — the perfect number — the whole world — this perfect work of art — was made, on this account I think that he who transcends all the things of the world by beholding no longer the things which are seen, for they are temporal, but already the things which not seen, and only the things which are not seen, because that they are eternal, is represented in the words, "After six days Jesus took up with Him" certain persons. If therefore any one of us wishes to be taken by Jesus, and led up by Him into the high mountain, and be deemed worthy of beholding His transfiguration apart, let him pass beyond the six days, because he no longer beholds the things which are seen, nor longer loves the world, nor the things in the world, nor lusts after any worldly lust, which is the lust of bodies, and of the riches of the body, and of the glory which is after the flesh, and whatever things whose nature it is to distract and drag away the soul from the things which are better and diviner, and bring it down and fix it fast to the deceit of this age, in wealth and glory, and the rest of the lusts which are the foes of truth. For when he has passed through the six days, as we have said, he will keep a new Sabbath, rejoicing in the lofty mountain, because he sees Jesus transfigured before him; for the Word has different forms, as He appears to each as is expedient for the beholder, and is manifested to no one beyond the capacity of the beholder.

I intend to take a slightly different perspective here, exploring a possible connection that I am not sure has ever been explored. This notice of the passage of a period of six days comes across to me as more like the time notices from the passion week than like anything we find elsewhere in the beginning or in the middle of any gospel. There is the temptation of 40 days, of course, but those days are all contained within a single symbolic pericope; they do not really mark the passage of time between two separate but related events (like the phrase "after three days" or "on the third day" does for the death and resurrection of Jesus). Elsewhere in the ministry the passage of time is very vague: "on one of those days," for example, or "on the Sabbath."

Now, Mark Goodacre has offered a possible explanation for the time notices during the passion week; he thinks that the passion narrative may reflect the liturgy of the primitive church:

From Mark Goodacre, Scripturalization in Mark's Crucifixion Narrative:

All that Amos 8.9 is able to explain is, at best, one element in the story – the darkness at midday. But this time reference is one of many in the Passion Narrative and they all have one thing in common: they happen at three hour intervals. The darkness that comes over the earth at 12 lasts three hours until 3 p.m., when Jesus dies (15.33-4). Before the darkness begins, Jesus has already been on the cross for three hours, since 9 a.m. (15.25). Before that, Jesus was brought before Pilate at dawn, πρωΐ (15.1). Nor does the pattern stop there. There appears to be something like a twenty-four hour framework, broken up neatly into three hour segments. Thus, if we imagine the Last Supper taking place at 6 p.m. (14.17, When it was evening ...), Jesus and the disciples would then go to Gethsemane at 9 p.m., Jesus would be arrested at midnight, and Peter denies Jesus during the Jewish trial at 3 a.m., cockcrow (14.72).

Nor is it simply that these stories fit nicely into this schedule. Individual units themselves seem to be patterned in such a way that they reflect this kind of structure. Jesus in Gethsemane asks his disciples to watch with him and is distressed that they could not stay awake for one hour (14.37), and then twice again he comes to them (14.40-1). And then, similarly, Peter denies Jesus three times at cockcrow, the Roman watch at 3 a.m. (14.54, 66-72).

Explanations for this marked three-hour structure that so dominates the Passion Narrative have not, on the whole, been forthcoming. The difficulty is, of course, that life is not quite as neat and tidy as this – events do not happen in even three hour units. That the pattern is intentional and in some way significant seems to be confirmed by a saying of Jesus located just before the beginning of Mark‘s Passion Narrative: "Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will return – whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the cock crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: – Watch!" (Mark 13.35-37).

The text itself appears to be drawing attention to the three hour pattern, alerting the bright reader to what is to come. And though an explanation has been put forward separately by three different scholars, a Canadian (Philip Carrington) in the 1950s, an Englishman (Michael Goulder) in the 1970s, and a Frenchman (Étienne Trocmé) in the 1980s, it is still hardly known at all in mainstream scholarship. These three scholars claim that the liturgy is the only thing that would make sense of this. What is happening, they suggest, is that the early Christians were holding their own annual celebration of the events of the Passion at the Jewish Passover, remembered as roughly the time of Jesus‘ death. While other Jews were celebrating Passover, Christian Jews held a twenty-four hour vigil in which they retold and relived the events surrounding Jesus' arrest and death, from sunset on 14/15 Nisan, and for twenty four hours. Perhaps Mark‘s account of the Passion, with its heavy referencing of Scripture, its regular time notes, was itself influenced by such a liturgical memory of the Passion.

I believe that Christian liturgy has been introduced into the gospels elsewhere, as well. It seems pretty certain to me that the Last Supper is such a case. Also, we find the following in one of the Jewish-Christian gospels:

Jerome, On Famous Men 2: Also the gospel which is named according to the Hebrews, and which was recently translated by me into Greek and Latin, which also Origen often used, refers after the resurrection of the savior: "But the Lord, when he had given the shroud to the servant of the priest, went to James and appeared to him. James indeed had sworn that he would not eat bread from that hour when he had drunk the chalice of the Lord until he saw him risen from among those who sleep." And again after a little bit: "'Bear forth,' said the Lord, 'a table and bread.'" And immediately is added: "He bore bread and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to James the just, and said to him, 'My brother, eat your bread, because the son of man has resurrected from among those who sleep.'"

John 3.3 has also been suspected of deriving from a baptismal liturgy. So the overall idea is hardly outrageous. It would make sense for the passion narrative to rank among the first parts of the gospel story to find itself both integrated into and influenced by liturgical interests; Jesus' death was vitally important to entire branches of Christian practice and belief, and it is, for example, virtually the only part of Jesus' alleged career which Paul writes about.

One attribute of the passion narrative in the gospels is its connections to the book of Daniel. With regard to Mark, for example, we find parallels such as the following:

Daniel 6.4: 4 Then the commissioners and satraps began trying to find [Theodotion: ἐζήτουν] a ground of accusation against Daniel in regard to government affairs; but they could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption, inasmuch as he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption was to be found in him [LXX: οὐδεμίαν ἁμαρτίαν οὐδὲ ἄγνοιαν ηὕρισκον; Theodotion: οὐχ εὗρον].

Mark 14.55: 55 Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain [ἐζήτουν] testimony against Jesus to put Him to death; and they were not finding any [οὐχ ηὕρισκον].

Daniel 6.19: 19 Then the king arose early with the dawn [ὤρθρισε πρωὶ] and went in haste to the lions' den.

Daniel 7.9: 9 "I kept looking Until thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like snow, and the hair of His head like pure white [λευκὸν] wool. His throne was ablaze with flames; its wheels were a burning fire.

Mark 16.2: 2 And very early [λίαν πρωῒ] on the first day of the week they went to the tomb when the sun had risen.

Mark 16.5: 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white [λευκήν] robe; and they were amazed.

These thematic and verbal parallels may mean something, along with the overall outline of the hero of the story being encased somehow (in a den versus in a tomb), but it is Matthew who really drives the Danielic parallels home:

Susanna [1.]45-46: 45 And as she was being led away to be put to death, God aroused the holy spirit of a young lad named Daniel; 46 and he cried with a loud voice, "I am clean of the blood of this woman [καθαρὸς ἐγὼ ἀπὸ τοῦ αἵματος ταύτης]."

Matthew 27.24: 24 And when Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the multitude, saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this man [ἀθῷός εἰμι ἀπὸ τοῦ αἵματος τούτου]; see to that yourselves."

Daniel 6.17: 17 And a stone was brought [ἠνέχθη λίθος] and laid over the mouth of the den; and the king sealed [ἐσφραγίσατο] it with his own signet ring and with the signet rings of his nobles, so that nothing might be changed in regard to Daniel.

Matthew 27.62-66: 62 Now on the next day, which is the one after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, 63 and said, "Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I am to rise again.' 64 "Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, lest the disciples come and steal Him away and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead,' and the last deception will be worse than the first." 65 Pilate said to them, "You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how." 66 And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone [ἠσφαλίσαντο τὸν τάφον σφραγίσαντες τὸν λίθον].

Daniel 7.9: 9 "I kept looking Until thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like snow [περιβολὴν ὡσεὶ χιόνα], and the hair of His head like pure white [λευκὸν] wool. His throne was ablaze with flames; its wheels were a burning fire.

Daniel 10.6: 6 His body also was like beryl, his face had the appearance of lightning [ὡσεὶ ὅρασις ἀστραπῆς], his eyes were like flaming torches, his arms and feet like the gleam of polished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a tumult.

Daniel 10.9: 9 But I heard the sound of his words; and as soon as I heard the sound of his words, I fell into a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground.

Daniel 10.12: 12 Then he said to me, "Do not be afraid [μὴ φοβοῦ], Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words.

Matthew 28.3-5: 3 And his appearance was like lightning [ἡ εἰδέα αὐτοῦ ὡς ἀστραπὴ], and his garment as white as snow [τὸ ἔνδυμα αὐτοῦ λευκὸν ὡς χιών], 4 and the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. 5 And the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid [μὴ φοβεῖσθε ὑμεῖς]; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified."

Daniel 7.14: 14 "And to Him was given authority [ἐδόθη αὐτῷ ἐξουσία], glory, and a kingdom, that all the nations [πάντα τὰ ἔθνη], peoples, and men of every language might serve Him. His authority is an everlasting [αἰώνιος] authority which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed."

Daniel 12.13: 13 "But as for you, go your way to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the consummation of days [εἰς συντέλειαν ἡμερῶν]."

Matthew 28.16-20: 16 But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 And when they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me [ἐδόθη μοι πᾶσα ἐξουσία] in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [πάντα τὰ ἔθνη], baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the consummation of the age [πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας ἕως τῆς συντελείας τοῦ αἰῶνος]."

As one researcher has commented:

Randel M. Helms, Gospel Fictions, chapter 7: Matthew was student both of a careful the Old Testament and of Mark, which in his time was not yet accepted as canonical Scripture and thus could be changed at need. His study revealed how frequently Mark's Gospel was transparent upon Scripture (or based upon it), and in ways that Mark himself apparently did not recognize. Mark had composed his Gospel on the basis of earlier oral and written sources, which in turn had found much of their information about Jesus in the Old Testament. Though Mark seems not to have realized that this was so, Matthew readily recognized the relationships between Mark and the Old Testament, and even took it upon himself to extend and correct them. In this case he saw Mark's resurrection narrative as transparent upon the Book of Daniel, especially chapter 6, the story of the lion's den. On recognizing the relationship, Matthew seems to have consulted the Septuagint version of Daniel and believed that he found there details of a more accurate account of the happenings of that Sunday morning some sixty years before, than could be found in the pages of Mark; never mind that Daniel's narrative is a story in the past tense about presumed events in the distant past. Matthew ignored its narrative and historical content and turned it into a prophetic oracle, as had the originators of Mark's story.

Helms supposes that Mark himself did not necessarily recognize the Danielic allusions in his own empty tomb narrative, simply because the similarities are limited mainly to the broadest outlines (the lions' den in Daniel as a representation of the tomb in Mark being the central thematic connection), while close verbal contacts are not nearly as prevalent in Mark as they are in Matthew.

Yet there is a passage in Mark in which the Danielic themes and words flow every bit as thick as what we find in Matthew's passion narrative:

Bel and the Dragon [1.]28-31: 28 When the Babylonians heard it, they were very indignant and conspired against the king, saying, "The king has become a Jew; he has destroyed Bel, and slain the dragon, and slaughtered the priests." 29 Going to the king, they said, "Hand Daniel over to us, or else we will kill you and your household." 30 The king saw that they were pressing him hard, and under compulsion he handed Daniel over to them. 31 They threw Daniel into the lions' den, and he was there for six days [ἡμέρας ἕξ].

Daniel 7.13-14: 13 "I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven [ἐπὶ τῶν νεφελῶν τοῦ οὐρανου] One like a Son of Man [ὡς υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου] was coming [ἤρχετο], and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. 14 And to Him was given dominion, glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom [ἡ βασιλεία αὐτοῦ] is one which will not be destroyed."

Daniel 10.12: 12 Then he said to me, "Do not be afraid [μὴ φοβοῦ], Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words."

Mark 9.1-9: 1 And He was saying to them, "Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who shall not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power [ἐληλυθυῖαν ἐν δυνάμει]." 2 And after six days [μετὰ ἡμέρας ἓξ] Jesus takes with Him Peter and James and John, and brings them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; 3 and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white [λευκὰ λίαν], as no launderer on earth can whiten them. 4 Elijah appeared to them along with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. 5 Peter says to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah." 6 For he did not know what to answer; for they became terrified [ἔκφοβοι γὰρ ἐγένοντο]. 7 Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, "This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!" 8 All at once they looked around and saw no one with them anymore, except Jesus alone. 9 And as they were coming down from the mountain, He gave them orders not to relate to anyone what they had seen, until the Son of Man [ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου] should rise from the dead.

So we are back to the Transfiguration! The connection of this pericope either to the resurrection or to Jesus' heavenly glory after his exaltation does not escape the notice of various early Christians:

Apocalypse of Peter 4-19: 4 And the Lord added and said: "Let us go unto the mountain [and] pray." 5 And going with him, we the twelve disciples besought him that he would show us one of our righteous brethren that had departed out of the world, that we might see what manner of men they are in their form, and take courage, and encourage also the men that should hear us. 6 And as we prayed, suddenly there appeared two men standing before the Lord upon whom we were not able to look. 7 For there issued from their countenance a ray as of the sun, and their raiment was shining so as the eye of man never saw the like: for no mouth is able to declare nor heart to conceive the glory wherewith they were clad and the beauty of their countenance. 8 Whom when we saw we were astonished, for their bodies were whiter than any snow and redder than any rose. 9 And the redness of them was mingled with the whiteness, and, in a word, I am not able to declare their beauty. 10 For their hair was curling and flourishing, and fell comely about their countenance and their shoulders like a garland woven of nard and various flowers, or like a rainbow in the air: such was their comeliness. 11 We, then, seeing the beauty of them were astonished at them, for they appeared suddenly.

Origen, Commentary on Matthew 12.42: 42 Next to these come the words, "While He was yet speaking, behold, also, a bright cloud overshadowed them," and the rest. Now, I think that God, wishing to dissuade Peter from making three tabernacles, under which so far as it depended on his choice he was going to dwell, shows a tabernacle better, so to speak, and much more excellent, the cloud. For since it is the function of a tabernacle to overshadow him who is in it, and to shelter him, and the bright cloud overshadowed them, God made, as it were, a diviner tabernacle, inasmuch as it was bright, that it might be to them a pattern of the resurrection to come; for a bright cloud overshadows the just, who are at once protected and illuminated and shone upon by it.

In context, the version in the Apocalypse of Peter belongs after the resurrection. Origen, like many Christian exegetes since his time, interprets the Transfiguration as a foretaste or preview of the resurrection. It is unclear whether the version in 2 Peter belongs after the resurrection or during the ministry:

2 Peter 1.16-18: 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, "This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased" — 18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

And notice, of course, that Matthew's only resurrection appearance takes place on a mountain.

There is one more connection to be explored here. It is the story of Bel and the Dragon that gives us the information that Daniel was in the lion's den for 6 days. This story immediately continues as follows:

Bel and the Dragon [1.]32-42: 32 There were seven lions in the den, and every day they had been given two human bodies and two sheep; but these were not given to them now, so that they might devour Daniel. 33 Now the prophet Habakkuk was in Judea. He had boiled pottage and had broken bread into a bowl, and was going into the field to take it to the reapers. 34 But the angel of the Lord said to Habakkuk, "Take the dinner which you have to Babylon, to Daniel, in the lions' den." 35 Habakkuk said, "Sir, I have never seen Babylon, and I know nothing about the den." 36 Then the angel of the Lord took him by the crown of his head, and lifted him by his hair and set him down in Babylon, right over the den, with the rushing sound of the wind itself [LXX: καὶ ἐπιλαβόμενος αὐτοῦ ὁ ἄγγελος κυρίου τοῦ Αμβακουμ τῆς κόμης αὐτοῦ τῆς κεφαλῆς ἔθηκεν αὐτὸν ἐπάνω τοῦ λάκκου τοῦ ἐν Βαβυλῶνι; Theodotion: καὶ ἐπελάβετο ὁ ἄγγελος κυρίου τῆς κορυφῆς αὐτοῦ καὶ βαστάσας τῆς κόμης τῆς κεφαλῆς αὐτοῦ ἔθηκεν αὐτὸν εἰς Βαβυλῶνα ἐπάνω τοῦ λάκκου ἐν τῷ ῥοίζῳ τοῦ πνεύματος αὐτοῦ]. 37 Then Habakkuk shouted, "Daniel, Daniel! Take the dinner which God has sent you." 38 And Daniel said, "Thou hast remembered me, O God, and hast not forsaken those who love thee." 39 So Daniel arose and ate. And the angel of God immediately returned Habakkuk to his own place. 40 On the seventh day the king came to mourn for Daniel. When he came to the den he looked in, and there sat Daniel. 41 And the king shouted with a loud voice, "Thou art great, O Lord God of Daniel, and there is no other besides thee." 42 And he pulled Daniel out, and threw into the den the men who had attempted his destruction, and they were devoured immediately before his eyes.

Now, this motif of a servant of God being lifted up by his hair, or in any other way, and whisked off to a new location is not entirely unheard of elsewhere:

Ezekiel 8.3: 3 And He stretched out the form of a hand and caught me by a lock of my head; and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven [ἀνέλαβέν με τῆς κορυφῆς μου καὶ ἀνέλαβέν με πνεῦμα ἀνὰ μέσον τῆς γῆς καὶ ἀνὰ μέσον τοῦ οὐρανοῦ] and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the north gate of the inner court, where the seat of the idol of jealousy, which provokes to jealousy, was located.

2 Baruch 6.3: 3 And lo! suddenly a strong spirit raised me, and bore me aloft over the wall of Jerusalem.

Acts 8.39-40: 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch saw him no more, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus; and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities, until he came to Caesarea.

Kölner Mani Kodex 55.16-23: [...] ἐξα[ί]φνης ἥρπ[ασὲν] με π[νεῦμα τὸ] ζῶν καὶ ἀν[ήνεγκεν βί]αι μεγίστη[ι καὶ με κατέ]στησεν κα[τὰ τὸ ἄκρον] ὄρους ὑψη[λοτάτου.] / [...] sudd[e]nly [the] living s[pirit] sna[tched] me and with grea[t fo]rce [bore me] up [and] se[t me] do[wn on the peak] of a [very] high mountain.

But, for me, the most interesting parallel comes from the gospel of the Hebrews:

Origen, Commentary on John 2.12, commenting on John 1.3: But if any should admit the gospel according to the Hebrews, where the savior himself says: "Just now my mother, the Holy Spirit, took me by one of my hairs and carried me to Tabor, the great mountain [ἄρτι ἔλαβέ με ἡ μήτηρ μου τὸ ἅγιον πνεῦμα ἐν μιᾷ τῶν τριχῶν μου καὶ ἀπήνεγκέ με εἰς τὸ ὄρος τὸ μέγα Θαβώρ]," he will be confused as to how the holy spirit can be the mother of Christ, born through the word.

Origen, On Jeremiah 15.4: And if any accepts this: "Just now my mother, the Holy Spirit, took me to Tabor, the great mountain [ἄρτι ἔλαβέ με ἡ μήτηρ μου τὸ ἅγιον πνεῦμα, καὶ ἀνήνεγκέ με εἰς τὸ ὄρος τὸ μέγα τὸ Θαβὼρ]," and what follows, he can see his mother.

Jerome, On Micah 2, commentary on 7.6: Sed qui legerit canticum canticorum et sponsum animae dei sermonum intellexerit, credideritque evangelio quod secundum Hebraeos editum nuper transtulimus, in quo ex persona salvatoris dicitur: «», non dubitabit dicere sermonem dei ortum esse de spiritu, et animam, quae sponsa sermonis est, habere socrum sanctum spiritum, qui apud Hebraeos genere dicitur feminino rua (רוח). / But he who reads the Song of Songs and understands the spouse of the soul to be the speech of God, and believes the gospel which we recently translated, that published as according to the Hebrews, in which from the person of the savior it is said: "Just now my mother, the Holy Spirit, bore me by one of my hairs," will not doubt to say that the speech of God springs from the spirit, and that the soul, which is the spouse of the speech, has the holy spirit as a mother-in-law, which among the Hebrews is said by the female gender, rua (רוח).

Jerome On Isaiah 11, commenting on 40.9: But also in the gospel which the Nazaraeans read, written according to the Hebrews, the Lord says: "Just now my mother, the Holy Spirit, bore me away [modo me tulit mater mea, spiritus sanctus]."

Jerome, On Ezekiel, commenting on 16.13: In the gospel of the Hebrews also, which the Nazaraeans read, the Savior is introduced saying: "Just now my mother, the holy spirit, snatched me away [modo me arripuit mater mea, spiritus sanctus]."

Jesus is here whisked away, by his hair, to Tabor. This mountain has been associated in Christian tradition both with the mountain of Transfiguration and with the mountain upon which Jesus appears in Matthew 28.16-29. A. F. J. Klijn comments, for example, in Jewish-Christian Gospel Tradition that in NT minuscule 1424 "it is said in a marginal gloss" to Matthew 28.16 "that Jesus appeared to his disciples after the resurrection εἰς τὸ Θαβώρ." Could this story be a relic of an earlier story in which the Transfiguration was an appearance to his apostles from glory?

What I am imagining is as follows. The Transfiguration was originally the legend of an appearance by Jesus to the apostles: at least to Peter, and possibly to others. Its status as such is preserved in the Apocalypse of Peter and possibly in 2 Peter, as well. In the synoptic gospels, however, it has been moved back into the ministry of Jesus (probably along with several other pericopes, including the walking on water and the miraculous catch of fish). But its Danielic connections, not to mention its resurrectional/exaltational significance, was never lost. The "six days" are a callback to the legend of Bel and the Dragon; possibly in this early branch of the tradition Jesus was regarded as dead for six days before being raised up (on the seventh day, as an act of a completed new creation?), until the rubric of three days took over all branches. We know that eventually a Paschal fast of six days (Monday through Saturday) rose up in the church, which would then celebrate the resurrection on Sunday; was this practice modeled on an early recollection of six days being the time that Daniel was in the lion's den and Jesus in the tomb?

At any rate, the Jewish-Christian gospel tradition preserved the Danielic connections, as well, with that whisking away of Jesus by the hair. This is probably not from a resurrection story in the gospel of the Hebrews itself, but may preserve some of that early liturgical symbolism from Daniel in connection with the mountain of revelation, the mountain upon which the apostle(s) supposedly received their divine commissions from the exalted Lord. This mountaintop tradition would be a parallel but separate thread from the tradition of the apostles as fishermen, but the result would be much the same: Jesus was exalted (whether after three days or after six days), and he appeared to his apostles and commanded them to evangelize.

In this scenario, of course, I am envisioning two different yet overlapping means of transmitting stories and themes down through the Christian generations: written texts and (probably unwritten) liturgical materials. Only a scant fraction of all early Christian texts have survived, and practically nothing beyond glimpses of what Christians must have said, done, and shared in their rites and rituals, in their gatherings, and in their encounters with wandering preachers and teachers.

I fully realize how speculative all of this is and must remain. But it interests me that the chronological notice, the Danielic themes, and the symbolic value of the Transfiguration pericope all seem to feel more at home in a setting associated with the passion and subsequent exaltation of Christ than in one associated with his Galilean ministry.

Ben.

PS: For convenience:

Matthew 17.1-8: 1 Six days later, Jesus takes with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and leads them up on a high mountain by themselves. 2 And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah." 5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!" 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. 7 And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, "Get up, and do not be afraid." 8 And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone.

Mark 9.2-8: 2 Six days later, Jesus takes with Him Peter and James and John, and brings them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; 3 and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them. 4 Elijah appeared to them along with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. 5 Peter says to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah." 6 For he did not know what to answer; for they became terrified. 7 Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, "This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!" 8 All at once they looked around and saw no one with them anymore, except Jesus alone.

Luke 9.28-36: 28 Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. 30 And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, 31 who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep; but when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him. 33 And as these were leaving Him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles: one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah" — not realizing what he was saying. 34 While he was saying this, a cloud formed and began to overshadow them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!" 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent, and reported to no one in those days any of the things which they had seen.

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Re: Transfiguration, six days, & Daniel the prophet.

Post by Secret Alias » Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:38 pm

I like Goodacre. I feel like I know him for some reason without ever formally meeting him. But it is high ironic that he uses arguments related to research into Secret Mark to support this idea while rejecting the association with a text with implies or opens the door for Q or gospels behind the canonical gospels. It reminds me of Nietzsche's old question about the difference between a presupposition and a lie. Cool guy though.
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Re: Transfiguration, six days, & Daniel the prophet.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:58 pm

Secret Alias wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:38 pm
I like Goodacre. I feel like I know him for some reason without ever formally meeting him. But it is high ironic that he uses arguments related to research into Secret Mark to support this idea while rejecting the association with a text with implies or opens the door for Q or gospels behind the canonical gospels.
To be fair, he did not get the liturgical idea from Secret Mark; he got it from Goulder.
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Re: Transfiguration, six days, & Daniel the prophet.

Post by Stefan Kristensen » Tue Jan 09, 2018 6:18 am

This whole thing is extremely interesting. For me, the six days in the Transfiguration story in gMark and gMatt is first and foremost a reference to Ex 24. That said, I think your research here and your contemplations back up a suspicion of mine that there might have been a more general idea concerning week-symbolism, or six+one. I suggest that it is on the basis of Gen 1, that this construct (six+one) became a general frame of reference, referring to God at work, divine workings, or something like that. In that case we need not decide on one single place where the six days of the Transfiguration story comes from.

Consider also the notion of the new temple in the form of the risen Jesus. In fact, I'd say it not impossible that among the things Mark uses to build his scene of the Transfiguration (I believe that's how we should view it) is the heavenly "blueprint" of the tabernacle shown to Moses on Sinai. The risen Jesus is the new temple, or tabernacle to stay within the exodus narrative, so the transfigured Jesus is the 'blueprint': the transfigured Jesus is the heavenly blueprint for the risen Jesus! This explains why Mark has Peter say such an odd thing, to "make three dwellings", for he uses of course the word for "tabernacle", or "tent", σκηνη, which is also used for the earthly bodies in which souls or spirits dwell. Cf. 2 Cor 5. Also the Johannine Prologue, which I believe is literarily dependant on Mark's Transfiguration scene. Now, consider also the fact that the temple, or tabernacle, was in fact built in seven stages in conscious imitation of the creation, as P. Kearney has argued.
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Re: Transfiguration, six days, & Daniel the prophet.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Jan 09, 2018 6:38 am

Stefan Kristensen wrote:
Tue Jan 09, 2018 6:18 am
This whole thing is extremely interesting. For me, the six days in the Transfiguration story in gMark and gMatt is first and foremost a reference to Ex 24. That said, I think your research here and your contemplations back up a suspicion of mine that there might have been a more general idea concerning week-symbolism, or six+one. I suggest that it is on the basis of Gen 1, that this construct (six+one) became a general frame of reference, referring to God at work, divine workings, or something like that. In that case we need not decide on one single place where the six days of the Transfiguration story comes from.
Good point. I think that the 6 days of creation followed by the 1 of divine rest finds its way into lots of other motifs. Given the strong Danielic and resurrectional/exaltational flavor of Mark's Transfiguration scene, I think the six days of Daniel in the lion's den is an attractive connection, but that motif itself may be related to the 6+1=7 pattern; the two, as you suggest, need not be mutually exclusive.
Consider also the notion of the new temple in the form of the risen Jesus. In fact, I'd say it not impossible that among the things Mark uses to build his scene of the Transfiguration (I believe that's how we should view it) is the heavenly "blueprint" of the tabernacle shown to Moses on Sinai. The risen Jesus is the new temple, or tabernacle to stay within the exodus narrative, so the transfigured Jesus is the 'blueprint': the transfigured Jesus is the heavenly blueprint for the risen Jesus! This explains why Mark has Peter say such an odd thing, to "make three dwellings", for he uses of course the word for "tabernacle", or "tent", σκηνη, which is also used for the earthly bodies in which souls or spirits dwell. Cf. 2 Cor 5. Also the Johannine Prologue, which I believe is literarily dependant on Mark's Transfiguration scene. Now, consider also the fact that the temple, or tabernacle, was in fact built in seven stages in conscious imitation of the creation, as P. Kearney has argued.
Thanks for that. :)
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Re: Transfiguration, six days, & Daniel the prophet.

Post by Charles Wilson » Tue Jan 09, 2018 10:01 am

One other mention of "Six Days...":

John 12: 1 (RSV):

[1] Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Laz'arus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.

Of course, the "Pass-Over" tells of the Angel of Death passing-over the Israelites. "Life" is on the other side.

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Re: Transfiguration, six days, & Daniel the prophet.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Jan 09, 2018 10:27 am

Charles Wilson wrote:
Tue Jan 09, 2018 10:01 am
One other mention of "Six Days...":

John 12: 1 (RSV):

[1] Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Laz'arus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
The OP has that one.
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Re: Transfiguration, six days, & Daniel the prophet.

Post by Charles Wilson » Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:39 am

Dyslexia is a terribus whank. Apologies.

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Re: Transfiguration, six days, & Daniel the prophet.

Post by andrewcriddle » Tue Jan 09, 2018 12:34 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 3:49 pm
...................................................................................
What I am imagining is as follows. The Transfiguration was originally the legend of an appearance by Jesus to the apostles: at least to Peter, and possibly to others. Its status as such is preserved in the Apocalypse of Peter and possibly in 2 Peter, as well. In the synoptic gospels, however, it has been moved back into the ministry of Jesus (probably along with several other pericopes, including the walking on water and the miraculous catch of fish). But its Danielic connections, not to mention its resurrectional/exaltational significance, was never lost. The "six days" are a callback to the legend of Bel and the Dragon; possibly in this early branch of the tradition Jesus was regarded as dead for six days before being raised up (on the seventh day, as an act of a completed new creation?), until the rubric of three days took over all branches. We know that eventually a Paschal fast of six days (Monday through Saturday) rose up in the church, which would then celebrate the resurrection on Sunday; was this practice modeled on an early recollection of six days being the time that Daniel was in the lion's den and Jesus in the tomb?

...................................................................................................
The earliest unambiguous evidence of a six days paschal fast seems to be Dionysius of Alexandria c 250 CE.
For all do not continue during the six days of the fast either equally or similarly: but some remain without food till cockcrow on all the days, some on two, or three, or four, and some on none of them. And for those who strictly persist in these prolonged fasts and then are distressed and almost faint, there is pardon if they take something sooner. But if some, so far from prolonging their fast do not fast at all, but feed luxuriously during the earlier days of the week, and then, when they come to the last two and prolong their fast on them alone, viz. on Friday and Saturday, think they are performing some great feat by continuing till dawn, I do not hold that they have exercised an equal discipline with those who have practised it for longer periods. I give you this counsel in accordance with my judgment in writing on these points.
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διαγενομένου

Post by JoeWallack » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:05 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 3:49 pm
The "six days" are a callback to the legend of Bel and the Dragon; possibly in this early branch of the tradition Jesus was regarded as dead for six days before being raised up (on the seventh day, as an act of a completed new creation?), until the rubric of three days took over all branches. We know that eventually a Paschal fast of six days (Monday through Saturday) rose up in the church, which would then celebrate the resurrection on Sunday; was this practice modeled on an early recollection of six days being the time that Daniel was in the lion's den and Jesus in the tomb?
JW:
As far as the number transition from 6/7 to 3 I think you are on the right track except that it is simpler than what you are speculating:
  • 1) The number transition from 7 to 3 just represents the supposed transition from old Jewish/Sabbath to new Christian resurrection.

    2) "Mark" (author) is the original author of the related narrative.
Note that generally specific days in GMark are identified as either Sabbath or in relation to Sabbath. The Galilean Teaching & Healing Ministry starts and ends on the Sabbath. The "after 6 days" Transfiguration scene is explicitly a conversion from Jewish to Christian, not to mention, by definition it is The Recognition Scene in classical Greek Tragedy. After the resurrection scene Jesus predicts that after 3 days he will be resurrected. Then Mark well the ending connection (so to speak) between Sabbath and resurrection:

And when the sabbath was past.
1230 [e]--- diagenomenou--- διαγενομένου--- having been past--- V-APM-GNS
Note that the word here is in the context of time. The Sabbath has ended. For those who need points repeated, like iskander and Neil Godfree, "The Sabbath has ended". Gone, expired, finito, kaput. The 7th day Sabbath has left. The 3 day resurrected Jesus has come. Tradition to Transition. "Mark" uses one of his weaker proof-texts to supposedly justify with The Sabbath Was Made For The Son Of Man in Chapter 2.

Since GMark is the original Gospel narrative and the base for all subsequent Gospels it's as good as we are going to get for a source regarding HJ. What it seems to indicate above is that historical witness to Jesus saw and promoted him as a Jewish teacher and healer rooted in Pharisaic Judaism.


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