New American Bible (Revised Edition)
The Transfiguration of Jesus.[a] 1 (A)After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.[b] 2 [c](B)And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. 3 [d]And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. 4 Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents[e] here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5 (C)While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,[f] then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” 6 [g]When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” 8 And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.
The Coming of Elijah.[h]Read full chapter
- 17:1–8 The account of the transfiguration confirms that Jesus is the Son of God (Mt 17:5) and points to fulfillment of the prediction that he will come in his Father’s glory at the end of the age (Mt 16:27). It has been explained by some as a resurrection appearance retrojected into the time of Jesus’ ministry, but that is not probable since the account lacks many of the usual elements of the resurrection-appearance narratives. It draws upon motifs from the Old Testament and noncanonical Jewish apocalyptic literature that express the presence of the heavenly and the divine, e.g., brilliant light, white garments, and the overshadowing cloud.
- 17:1 These three disciples are also taken apart from the others by Jesus in Gethsemane (Mt 26:37). A high mountain: this has been identified with Tabor or Hermon, but probably no specific mountain was intended by the evangelist or by his Marcan source (Mk 9:2). Its meaning is theological rather than geographical, possibly recalling the revelation to Moses on Mount Sinai (Ex 24:12–18) and to Elijah at the same place (1 Kgs 19:8–18; Horeb = Sinai).
- 17:2 His face shone like the sun: this is a Matthean addition; cf. Dn 10:6. His clothes became white as light: cf. Dn 7:9, where the clothing of God appears “snow bright.” For the white garments of other heavenly beings, see Rev 4:4; 7:9; 19:14.
- 17:3 See note on Mk 9:5.
- 17:4 Three tents: the booths in which the Israelites lived during the feast of Tabernacles (cf. Jn 7:2) were meant to recall their ancestors’ dwelling in booths during the journey from Egypt to the promised land (Lv 23:39–42). The same Greek word, skēnē, here translated tents, is used in the LXX for the booths of that feast, and some scholars have suggested that there is an allusion here to that liturgical custom.
- 17:5 Cloud cast a shadow over them: see note on Mk 9:7. This is my beloved Son…listen to him: cf. Mt 3:17. The voice repeats the baptismal proclamation about Jesus, with the addition of the command listen to him. The latter is a reference to Dt 18:15 in which the Israelites are commanded to listen to the prophet like Moses whom God will raise up for them. The command to listen to Jesus is general, but in this context it probably applies particularly to the preceding predictions of his passion and resurrection (Mt 16:21) and of his coming (Mt 16:27, 28).
- 17:6–7 A Matthean addition; cf. Dn 10:9–10, 18–19.
- 17:9–13 In response to the disciples’ question about the expected return of Elijah, Jesus interprets the mission of the Baptist as the fulfillment of that expectation. But that was not suspected by those who opposed and finally killed him, and Jesus predicts a similar fate for himself.