Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Transfiguration


The famous Transfiguration of Jesus is one of the most wellknown, and spectacular, accounts of "visionary," not mystical, events in history.

We must begin by the caveat that it might not have been a literal event, but a symbolic one.

For example, "Moses" and "Elijah" were very ancient members of the Jewish religion. They often appeared in the experiences of visionaries. As human beings, of course, they were dead, and had been so for centuries.

But, as parts of visions, they were "alive and well" in the visions of dozens of Jewish visionaries. (A "visionary" sees visions, and is not the same as a "mystic," who might never see a vision.)

But as archetypes (symbols of mind), they represented two facets of Jewish religion: legalism and the belief in the extraordinary (miraculous) powers of God. (Many miracles were ascribed, in the ancient tales, to Elijah.)

Moses, historically, had been recognized as the writer of the Pentateuch or Torah, the first five books of the Bible-- Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Jews were the original "people of the Book." In other words, their original faith was not ennucleated around a principle such as Love or goodness, but used as its core the written Scriptures, which grew finally to include the thirty-nine small books of the Hebrew Scriptures, known to most Christians as the "Old Testament."

These archetypes arose, during the vision, from the collective (shared) Unconscious. This vision was of a very rare type, for it, at least, in the later tellings, was shared by Jesus and his disciples, unless the entire account is an allegory (symbolic tale).

During the vision, the entire place was flooded with light, a perfect and picturesque symbol of the actions of Love. For Love is Light; for "God is Light." (1 Jn. 1:5)

This could not have been Jesus' first realization of the Christ of Light within him, for he was already the Christ. The account was recorded as further evidence that he was the Christ, especially to convince the doubting. Such stories as this, whether apocryphal or not, are commonly told of deeply spiritual people. In a short time, they become legend. And later, many of them are mistaken for actual "history."

Just a brief note on the word "Christ." This word, among Christian gnostics (most early Christians) was a term of immense respect and great awe. The Greek word Khristos was not just a translation of the Hebrew masshiah ("messiah"). This is a very common mistake made even by ministers and some scholars.

But early Christians never claimed that Jesus was the Jewish "Messiah," and he was not. For the Messiah, said the legends and "prophecies," was to be a great and bloody general who would raise an army of thousands, slaughtering thousands of Romans and other "enemies" of Israel, and freeing the Jewish people from foreign domination.

The real and truest, most reliable experts on the "Messiah" are the Jews. They formulated the concept, and they have studied it quite profoundly for centuries. So, when you want to learn about a strictly Jewish teaching, it does not make sense to ask a Christian-- a person of another faith. And when you ask Jewish scholars whether Jesus was their Messiah, they will answer, to a person, "No."

So, Jesus was not the "Messiah," and never taught that he was. There is one verse in Mark where he appears to have claimed that he was, but the texts of the original Christian Scriptures passed through many hands, and were emended several times to say what the scribe wanted them to say.

So, they are a fairly unreliable document when it comes to technical details of "truth" (Reality). That is why the person of Love follows her Love-trained conscience rather than ancient texts.

So, the magnificent Transfiguration probably was, originally, an account of a solitary vision seen by Jesus on the Mount. Through decades of embellishment, and retelling, it grew into the dramatic, overblown, fantastic, spectacular tale that we now have in our Bibles.

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