"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Friday, August 6, 2021

That We Might All Be Transfigured

The Transfiguration has long been my favourite feast. It its honour today, I reprint below an updated and slightly condensed version of several posts from many years ago now. 

The Transfiguration has an obvious Paschal character--to say nothing of the fact that is so wonderfully captures the "dyophysite" nature of humankind: called to transfiguration ourselves, beholding the glory of Christ as far as we can bear it, we are also at the same time like the apostles: falling down the mountain, our faces half-covered in cowardice and bewilderment. 

As for suitable books for feasting this occasion, I first draw your attention to this interview I did with Michael Martin about his book Transfiguration: Notes Toward a Radical Catholic Reimagination of Everything

Next I point you to a book from two of the leading patrologists of our time, one Catholic and the other Orthodox: Brian E. Daley, trans. and John Behr, ed. Light on the Mountain: Greek Patristic and Byzantine Homilies on the Transfiguration of the Lord (SVS Press, August 2013), 378pp.

About this collection, which is volume 48 in the SVS series "Popular Patristics," we are told by the publisher:

The episode of the Transfiguration of Jesus plays a key role in the narrative of the Synoptic Gospels. Peter and his fellow Apostles have just acknowledged Jesus to be Israel s long-awaited Messiah, and have been shocked by Jesus immediate prediction of his coming passion and death. Now Peter, James and John are allowed to share an extraordinary vision, marking him out as truly God s own Son, radiant with divine glory. Early Christian commentators and preachers recognized the crucial importance of this incident for Christian faith and discipleship, as pointing in advance to the power of the cross and resurrection of Christ. The liturgical feast of the Transfiguration, anticipating that of the Exaltation of the Cross by forty days, came to be celebrated in the Eastern and Western Churches, beginning in the seventh century; yet since at least the third century, theologians have reflected on the significance of this event for the life of faith.

This volume brings together, in a new translation, a comprehensive collection of homilies on the Transfiguration of Christ from the Greek Patristic and Medieval Church, from Origen in the third century to St. Gregory Palamas in the fourteenth. Together they form a profound and moving set of meditations, from many perspectives and in many voices, on the light of the recognition of the glory of God in the face of Christ (II Cor 4.6), and on its importance for our lives.

Homilies include:

Origen, Commentary on Matthew 12.36 43 (on Matthew 17.1 9)

John Chrysostom, Homily 56 on Matthew (on Matthew 16.28 17.9)

Proclus of Constantinople, Homily on the Transfiguration

Cyril of Alexandria, Homily 51 on Luke (on Luke 9.27 36)

Pantoleon, Sermon on the Transfiguration of the Lord

Leontius, Presbyter of Constantinople, Homily 14 on the Transfiguration

Patriarch Anastasius I of Antioch, Homily on the Transfiguration (Homily 1)

Timothy of Antioch, Homily on the Cross and Transfiguration of Jesus

Anonymous, Incomplete Homily on the Transfiguration (7th-9th c.)

Anastasius of Sinai, Homily for Feast of the Transfiguration

Andrew of Crete, Homily for the Feast of the Transfiguration

John of Damascus, Homily for the Feast of the Transfiguration

Emperor Leo VI (the Wise), Three Homilies for the Transfiguration:10,11,39

Philagathos of Cerami, Homily 31 on the Feast of the Saving Transfiguration

Neophytos the Recluse, Catechesis on the Transfiguration

Theoleptos of Philadelphia, Catechesis for the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

Nikephoros Choumnos, On the Holy Transfiguration of Christ

Ps-Chrysostom, Discourse on the Transfiguration (Sicily, 14th c.?)

Gregory the Sinaite, Discourse on the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

Gregory Palamas, Two Homilies for the Feast of the Transfiguration (34 and 35)

Next let me draw your attention to several other books focused in particular on the iconography of the feast, and starting with Solrunn Nes, The Uncreated Light: An Iconographiocal Study of the Transfiguration in the Eastern Church. 

Andreas Andreopoulos is a prolific author and scholar who has written two books of relevance here: Metamorphosis: The Transfiguration in Byzantine Theology and Iconography and then his more recent study, This Is My Beloved Son: The Transfiguration of Christ. 

I commend both authors and all three books to your attention, as well as the ones above. All of them invite us to enjoy a feast whose glory comes to us “as far as we can bear it.” And if you are unable to get to a celebration of it, then enjoy this vigil from the finest Byzantine parish in North America: 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Anonymous comments are never approved. Use your real name and say something intelligent.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...