"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).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"When You Were Transfigured, O Christ..."

The Transfiguration has long been my favourite feast of the year. I was therefore delighted when Eastern Christian Publications sent me a review copy of Robert Slesinski's new book:

This lovely little book is suitable for slow, rich meditation on the Transfiguration, which I have often thought the most felicitous feast of the year after Pascha, to which it is closely linked chronologically in the life of Christ, and liturgically in some traditions, such as the Latin, where the gospel pericope is read during Lent. (The Latins never celebrated the Transfiguration widely until, Slesinski tells us, 1457, but even today for them it is only a second-class feast and has “never carried the same importance and gravitas as in the Christian East.” Why this should be so is an interesting question not pursued by the author.)

Slesinski examines the feast through numerous biblical texts as well as a close reading of the Byzantine liturgical texts, ending with a brief “mystagogical catechesis” of the feast. His edifying efforts are the latest in a series of recent books on the Transfiguration, including—to cite only the most recent, and only from Eastern authors—Solrunn Nes (The Uncreated Light: an Iconographic Study of the Transfiguration in the Eastern Church) and Andreas Andreopoulos (Metamorphosis: The Transfiguration in Byzantine Theology and Iconography and his forthcoming work, This is My Beloved Son: the Transfiguration of Christ, about which more later). Now we have Slesinski’s book, offering us great spiritual insights into a feast whose glory comes to us “as far as we can bear it.”

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