Rooted in Detachment: Living the Transfiguration (Cistercian Studies)

The Transfiguration of Christ is a pivot in the gospel of salvation, beckoning Christians back into the teaching of Christ and forward to his death and resurrection. Described in three gospels and the Second Letter of Peter, portrayed in Eastern Christian icons, and proclaimed on the last Sunday before Lent, the transfiguration has received little attention in recent books on theology or spirituality. New Testament scholars continue to probe into its origins and significance, but–with the exceptions of John Anthony McGuckin’s 1986 patristic study and the late Arthur Michael Ramsey’s 1949 theological-liturgical treatment–there have been few books on its place in the long tradition of Christian spirituality or interpretation, Eastern or Western. Beginning with the striking icon of the Transfiguration by Theophanes the Greek, the author, in the tradition of lectio divina, reflects on the insights of writers and preachers through the ages, and ponders the power this mystery has to nurture and sustain modern Christians.

Review & Commentary

One thought on “Rooted in Detachment: Living the Transfiguration (Cistercian Studies)

  1. Review

    Book Review: “Rooted in Detachment: Living the Transfiguration” by Kenneth Stevenson, Darton Longman and Todd, London 2007, ISBN 0-232-52692-3, 175 pages.

    The biblical story of the “Transfiguration of Jesus” has been acknowledged by the author of this textual and personal analysis as a pivotal point, which is located in pivotal positions within the first three Gospels. These locations are in Mark 7:1-9, in Matthew 17:1-9 and in Luke 9:27-36, where Luke places this depicted event in a context of prayer. Mark presents the ministry of Jesus as lasting for one full year, so this Transfiguration Story, in the context of the northern hemisphere, fits in very well between the rebirth of Nature in the season of Spring and the following death and darkness, which is associated with Fall or Autumn and the cold Winter solstice in December. This context therefore places this solar epiphany story within the sunny and hot mid-year months of Summer.

    This Transfiguration has also been featured and celebrated within Christianity’s liturgical or Church Year. The traditional dates for such a celebration have varied and have resulted in a moving feast, being located variously in Epiphany, on a pre-Lenten Sunday in Spring or on 6 August in late Summer. Perhaps this sort of variability implies that this biblical story, which combines extra-ordinary Heavenly and Human dimensions, has proved to be rather problematic and has tended to be placed on the back-burner, overlooked and even ignored.

    Mark’s Story of the Transfiguration

    The author Kenneth Stevenson, who, at the time of writing his book, was the Bishop of Portsmouth in England, explores in particular, two aspects of this story. He is fascinated by the literal and surface-level Transfiguration Story with its terrestrial and celestial imagery and he presents the full texts of each of the Gospel versions in his Introduction. The author presents this story as being pivotal within these three Gospels, especially within its seasonal temporal context and within its spatial location between its heavenly, metaphysical and supernatural dimensions and its earthly, material and naturalistic dimensions. Such contrasting dimensions leads the reader to seek some sort of resolution in this relationship between two such conflicting and paradoxical Realms.

    In brief, the story in Mark’s Gospel tells its readers that three of Jesus’ disciples, Peter, James and John, were led up a high mountain by Jesus, who then changed or metamorphosed in his appearance and nature. His clothes became dazzling white and, according to Matthew, his face shone like the sun. Elijah and Moses then came by for a friendly chat with this heavenly or celestial Jesus, while the very human and fallible Peter, in his usual confusion, panic and lack of comprehension, suggested that three tents or tabernacles be erected, presumably for these heavenly visitors. Perhaps Peter took into account that the Tabernacle, which accompanied the Israelites during the earlier Exodus from Egypt and which was associated with Moses the Law-giver and with the later majestic Jerusalem Temple of Yahweh, the Jewish Deity, were both considered to be dwelling places for this Yahweh. Yahweh’s physical presence here was confirmed for the Jewish worshippers by the light of Yahweh’s Shekinah in the temple, which entered from the east at dawn as sun rays and in the electrical sparks created by the large and almost touching wings of the Cherubim, acting as conductors, which were located on the top of the Ark of the Covenant in the Temple’s Holy of Holies. Perhaps Peter had these situations in mind when he expressed his helpful suggestion to erect a Tabernacle.

    As this succinct story comes to its climax, a cloud then arrived and settled over this celestial scene and a voice from this cloud, presumably thought to be coming from their deity Yahweh, was then heard, which confirmed that this now heavenly Jesus, meaning in English “Yahweh Saves”, was “my own dear Son”. This has in turn helped to attach to Jesus the title of the “Son of God” or the “Son of Yahweh”. The two heavenly visitors then departed from the scene and disappeared into thin air. Elijah, who had earlier been depicted in 2 Kings 2:11 as ascending after his death up into heaven in a whirlwind while riding in a chariot of fire pulled by horses of fire, was familiar with such air-travel and heavenly departures, ascensions and arrivals. After all, Elijah’s name is based on and is formed from “El” and from “Yahweh”, both of which are the names for the Deity of the Hebrews and the later Jews. Elijah’s association with the flame-enhanced, solar chariot and its fiery horses help to add to his Yahwistic and solar aspects. Moses, whose bodily location after his death, according to Deuteronomy 34:6, was unknown, was a hero of the Hebrew, who was already shrouded in mystery. Taking into account Moses’ earlier contacts with his Yahweh on Mount Sinai, along with the thunder and lightning, this Transfiguration Story simply presents one more Mosaic Mystery.

    This enigmatic story concludes with Jesus remaining on the scene alone. He presumably reverted back to his more humanized form and then he gave instructions to his three, first-chosen disciples, to keep their mouths tightly shut in relation to what they had seen or experienced and to tell others about this combined celestial and terrestrial event only after Jesus as the Son of Man has risen from the dead.

    No doubt, a sermon or homily based on this story is for many ordained or self-proclaimed Christian preachers, a difficult challenge. Ignorance is often said to be bliss, so perhaps the frequent ignoring of the Transfiguration Story is also bliss. In contrast to such traditional treatment of this story, its author Kenneth Stevenson in his book devotes 175 pages to his theological and spiritual personal exploration, exegesis, and exposition of this tantalizing story. The author’s main concerns are [1] the literal articulation of the story’s interesting contents and [2] his literary and personal application and appropriation of this story to his own life and to his concept of “Living the Transfiguration”, which he includes in his book’s title. However, I will extend these two concerns with a third consideration, which entails a liberal, rational and scientific analysis and a critical academic assessment of the possible sources of the concepts, which may reveal what are the realities or facts which lie behind this Transfiguration Story.

    Author’s Acute Ailment

    This transfiguration story has been a long-time preoccupation of the author and the vital importance to Stevenson of his personal appropriation of this theme, lies in his own life story and in his doctor’s diagnosis in September 2005 of his illness as “acute myeloid leukemia. His treatment involved sessions at the Hematology Unit of the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth, England and his required bone-marrow transplant was performed at the South Hampton General Hospital. The author affirms that his experience of this illness “has left a lasting mark on me” and that his time, which in his busy life was “always a precious commodity”, was now “at a premium” (p. viii). The writing of this biblically-based book has therefore been somewhat unique. His textual analysis includes the expected articulation and academic assessment but the author’s acute ailment and incapacitating illness has also made this book a personalized transfiguration for the author. His book’s title includes the concept of ”Living the Transfiguration”, so the author has applied and anagogically appropriated this story’s Earthly, terrestrial and material, as well as its heavenly, celestial and invisible dimensions. This has involved him in the spiritual or soul-based ascension skywards up the mountain, the experience of mystical, spiritual bliss on top of the mountain and the eventual descent down again to the soil of the earth and to its more mundane realities.

    Sky Pilots or Soul Navigators?

    A usual condemnation of such mystical and celestial talk is that such writers are “Sky Pilots”, travelling through the heavens as it was depicted back in the first century with its heaven and heavenly bodies above, its human realities on earth and an underworld of darkness and death below. However, the author has also internalized these concepts and has applied them in the context of the traditional view of the five levels of Existence, Experience, Being or Human Reality, which relate to each human being. These five Levels of Human Being include [1] the physical or physiological body; [2] the instinctual and autonomic systems; [3] the mental, intellectual and scientifically-apprehended realm; [4] the spiritual, imaginative and symbolically-oriented realm and [5] the celestial level of integration and wholeness. In addition, there are the three stages of Human Becoming, including {1} the birth-stage of unconscious wholeness; {2} the life-long stage of conscious un-wholeness, which is also the main theme of the Bible’s Subsequent Fall into Sin, the differentiation of polarities and the promises of a soul-based Redemption, and finally {3} the conscious wholeness of the Salvation, Integration and Wholeness of the human beings five levels of Human Being mentioned above.

    Some of these concepts have been condemned from a strictly rational and logical perspective but, as psyche or soul-oriented symbolical concepts and processes, they have always been accepted as necessary for the life of the Soul or Psyche. From this perspective, the Bible emerges as a profound, multi-level, symbolically-based and spiritually therapeutic Soul-Book. This was recognized in the title “Seel Sorger” or “Soul Carer”, which has sometimes been bestowed on Pastors in Germany and in the recent book title of “Care of the Soul”. The author Stevenson appears to accept the universality of the above expressions of the inner life, which for him can apply to all humans on earth, and on a personal level, he repeatedly applies and accepts them into his own spiritual self-analysis in the face of his acute medical ailment.

    In this regard, Christianity’s concept of Mother Nature and of our Natural World may now be based on out-of-date and obsolete, first-century historiography, cosmology, cosmogony, astronomy, historical analysis and a supernaturally-based theological interpretation, assessment and personal appropriation. However, the biblical perspective on and our analysis and assessment of Human Nature and the structure, functions, levels and stages of development of the intuitive and a-rational human psyche or soul, tend to reveal that the biblical insights and symbolical expressions of such needs of the psyche or soul cannot be deemed to be obsolete or out-of date. Natural Science may reject as rational explanations and as sign-based, semantic correspondences, Christianity’s depicted super-human entities and super-natural events but Human Spirituality and the human psyche can move beyond such surface, semantic signs to the deeper, sub-surface, soul-sustaining symbols. Christianity’s many symbols and symbolical stories like the enigmatic Transfiguration, all of which are both celestial and terrestrial, should not therefore be discarded and dumped into the trash-bin but re-examined as the treasure for which the Soul or Psyche is seeking.

    The Exploration of Icons and Images in the Transfiguration Story.

    The author has presented ten aspects of the Transfiguration as his ten chapters in this exploration:[1] Icon as Narrative, [2] Promise, [3] Ascent, [4] Change, [5] Visitors, [6] Enthusiasm, [7] Cloud, [8] Voice, [9] Descent and [10] Discipleship Transfigured.

    The Icon of the Transfiguration, which is displayed on the front cover, was painted by Theophanes the Greek in about 1403 C.E. It is now located in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. The word “icon” originally meant a “picture”, but the use of stylized figures, haloes and the contrasting colors of white and gold for illustrating the condition of glory of the celestial and mostly invisible realm and shades of brown to illustrate the terrestrial and visible realm, have modified this meaning to sacred picture of special people.

    This icon depicts both a static and a sequential aspect. The top half of this icon, which is colored white and gold, displays Elijah and Moses on their own mountains, talking with Jesus. The figure of Jesus is floating in the sky, within a background of a white oval-shaped mandorla, a white four-pointed star and a round disk emitting rays from its centre, presumably depicting the sun. Below are the three disciples lying on the ground. James and John are looking in the opposite direction, away from the heavenly scene, but Peter in contrast, is looking intently up at these three heavenly beings. He clearly did not want to miss out on anything at such an epiphany and manifestation from another realm of existence.

    The static aspect of this powerful icon is supplemented by the sequence of small pictures or vignettes, with the left-hand picture depicting Jesus as he leads the disciples up the mountain and with the right-hand picture presenting their descent from the mountain-top. The second feature in the sequence is the depiction of Jesus’ Transfiguration, Metamorphosis or changing status between his human and his divine nature or state, which was described earlier. Such a change in state or nature is clearer when Jesus is given his earlier appellation of “Yahweh Saves” or “Yehoshua”, which reveals Jesus as an aspect of the Hebrew and Jewish deity, whom they named “Yahweh”. Also widely acknowledged is that the title “The Lord”, which in Hebrew is “Adonay” and in Greek is “Kyrios”, applied equally either to Yahweh and to Jesus. Yahweh was called by the Christians the “Heavenly Father” and Jesus meaning “Yahweh Saves” was called the “Beloved Son”. Such linguistic and conceptual aspects of early Christian thinking should not be ignored or denied.

    Is the story historically factual?

    Several issues emerge from this narrative for the author. Is this story historically true, semantically realistic and scientifically factual? Did Jesus really float up into the sky, against the back-drop of the brightly-shining sun? Stevenson appears to want it to be so. However, he also applies the concepts and events symbolically as images and stages for his own journey of his soul or psyche. The results of a more scientific analysis will be referred to later in this review.

    The theme of “promise” relates to Jesus’ prediction of the coming of the “Kingdom of God” which, in the reviewer’s opinion, should also include the aspect of “Queen-dom” and which could be better depicted as the “Rule of Yahweh”. The author is interested in the meaning of the word “some”, relating it to people who will be alive when this Rule arrives. Jerome hints at the importance of the image of the sun or solar disk in the transfiguration when he attempts to deny what some were affirming, namely, that Jesus lost his human form, his arms and legs and “suddenly began to roll along in a round shape like that of the sun or ball” (p. 28). Readers may wonder whether Jesus was commonly depicted as the sun or solar disk, an idea in need of Jerome’s denial and polemical denunciations. On the other hand, Jerome is presented as an early supporter of Mount Tabor, which is located near Nazareth in Galilee and which is 1,843 feet high, as the Mountain of the Transfiguration (p.29).

    The ascent of mountains has been used to depict a departure from the ground-level of planet Earth and an arrival at the peak or top of the mountain, where for believers, Earth and Heaven meet. Traditionally, churches and cathedrals and been erected on the highest elevation of the land, where this has been possible. Folklore remembers the conquest of Mount Everest by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing and some Christians still like to recall the Gospel’s conquest of Mount Tabor by the hill-climbers Jesus, Peter James and John, albeit a climb of only 1,843 feet, which did not require oxygen masks! More important is the reputation of these three disciples, with Peter known for his supernatural, marvel-arousing Miracles; James for his experience of murderous Martyrdom and John for his metaphysical Mysticism in the fourth Gospel (p.44). Stevenson highlights the need for perseverance and for the will not to give up trying when engaged in mountain-climbing. He applies both of these ideas to his own sessions of chemotherapy treatment and the need here to pursue such treatment to its conclusion.

    Photo-realism and Portrait-romanticism.

    Change is implied in the aspect of the prefix “trans”, which in Latin means “across” or “over”. Transport is movement or the carrying of something over the surface of the Earth. A photographer’s photo which is taken by a camera tends to take a static scene which displays objective “photo-realism”. The photo, if it is not digitally modified, is an exact likeness and a reproduction of the photographed scene or person.

    On the other hand, a portrait or painting by an artist of a scene or figure can be very subjective and can incorporate interpretations and intuitive impressions of the object depicted in the artistically-painted and romantically-presented scene or figure. This subjectivism is an important feature of the creation and appreciation of a sacred icon. A reader may conclude that an icon therefore subjectively resembles a dogmatized or imaginary scene, which does not reproduce realistically any objective historical events, real people as they actually were and geographical locations. In this context, the author tends to affirm “that the Christ of Transfiguration is at one and the same time the earthly man and the Son of God, the two natures of Christ coexisting, indivisible” (p.51). Such a conflicting paradox may well be adding to the unpopularity of this story as a sermon text.

    The author’s appropriation of such a series of changes or such a metamorphosis in his own life and illness, is relevant to his uncomfortable disfigurement and change in appearance during the course of his chemo-therapy. It also inspires him to recall other mountain top encounters by such figures as Moses up on Mt Sinai, as depicted in Exodus 34:29-35; to recall other resurrections in the Gospels, such as when it is claimed that the tombs of the departed opened up in Jerusalem and “many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised”, as narrated in Matthew 27:51-52.

    Transfiguration Hymns and Sculptures

    In his discussion of hymn-writing, the author highlights the many Transfiguration-inspired religious hymns of the Danish poetical Lutheran Pastor Nikolai Grundtvig (1783-1872). Being a citizen of Europe in the 1800s, Nikolai found himself “rebelling against the shallowness of Pietism and the aridity of Rationalism” (p.61). Being a creative poet-preacher, his concern lay in preserving a living tradition in his hymns, in contrast to the common “ecclesiastical triumphalism” which was being displayed by some other composers in the interests of expanding Christendom. For Grundtvig however, “the Transfiguration is no feast, but an essential part of Christian discipleship” (p.62).

    In addition to painted Icons, the author draws attention to the majestic sculptured figures of the twelve disciples and of a large Christ created by Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844) and erected in the Lutheran Copenhagen Cathedral in Denmark. The large Christ-figure in white marble was placed there in 1837 and depicts the status of Jesus as depicted in the Transfiguration words: “This is my Son, the Beloved” (p.62).

    Characters Celestial and Terrestrial
    The contrasting characters in this story have received much attention in various commentaries on these Gospel stories and as presented in the colorful and meaningful Icon of Theophanes the Greek. The central position is given to the glorified Jesus as the Cosmic Christ or Metaphysical Messiah, who is clothed in white garments, is surrounded by the sun disk and is floating in the air above a mountain. The re-appearing Elijah and the resurrected Moses both have their heads level with Christ’s head but in contrast to Christ, their feet are planted firmly on their own individual mountains, which are probably Elijah’s Mt Carmel and Moses’ Mt Sinai.

    The very human disciples on the mountain below are lying on the ground, with James and John looking away from the mountain-top scene in apparent fear, but with Peter facing Jesus and busily viewing everything, including this celestial but astronomically-based solar epiphany. This is appropriate for Peter as the Rock of the Church, possessor of the keys to the Kingdom/Queendom and performing his vital role as possibly the foundation figure of Christianity. He certainly is depicted as the disciple who in Mark 8:29 recognized Jesus as also being the Metaphysical Messiah or the Cosmic Christ, which had been foretold in the Hebrew Scriptures. It was Peter, who is presented as both witnessing this Transfiguration or solar epiphany and who affirms that Jesus is the Messiah. He is also listed as the Disciple who first or at a very early stage, witnessed or interpreted a scene involving the Resurrection of Jesus. In 1 Corinthians 15:5 passes on the tradition that Jesus “appeared to Peter and then to all twelve apostles”. Matthew and Mark on the other hand had noted in Matthew 26:56 and in Mark 14:50 that the disciples had fled from the Garden of Gethsemane, so Peter’s role as a resurrection witness has not been included.

    The Resurrection or Assumption account in the Gospel of Peter, which includes two celestial helpers and guides for the trip up to heaven, indicates that Peter was involved in these concepts. The interesting account of a Transfiguration, which was witnessed by Peter, is depicted in 2 Peter 1:16-18 as occurring on “the holy mountain’, where Jesus is described as being given glory by God the Supreme Glory and where Peter, with his own eyes, saw Jesus’ greatness. This indicates that, even though the disciples had fled from being involved in Jesus’ trial, condemnation, crucifixion and resurrection in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, Peter was involved with epiphanies and manifestations, which were probably solar-related and which eventually found their way into various Transfiguration and Resurrection Stories. After all, every human being on earth daily can witness the sun rising or resurrecting in the East at dawn each morning and each year, after its shortest day at its mid-winter solstice, they can witness the sun being reborn and its day-light hours gradually increasing. This is part of astronomy and the changes of the annual seasons and zodiacal paths. The traditional Christmas, Winter Solstice or Yule-tide celebration has always highlighted this increasing solar darkness and death at the approach to Christmas and its natural rebirth or resurrection on 25 December as a crucial stage in the sun’s annual seasonal and zodiacal cycle. In such a context, the Writer of Mark depicted Peter as mentally a dim-wit and as intellectually rather dense and mostly uncomprehending, perhaps intentionally, in order to minimize Peter’s actual decisive impact on the founding of Christianity. However, in my view, Peter’s real impact and influence in the founding and formation of “The Way” or “Christianity” in the first century was immense and should not be underestimated.

    Mini-Transfiguration.

    At this stage of his book, the author continues to reveal insights, which he has gained from aspects of such epiphanies or manifestations in the context of his own serious illness. This has occurred when he has experienced encouragement from his friends to persevere and to “go for it”. He likes to describe such experiences as “a kind of mini-Transfiguration” (p.79).

    The author’s exploration of this story reveals further highlights. Peter’s suggestion that they build some tabernacles, is related to the building of churches for worship (p.93); the cloud which appears both conceals and reveals, especially in its association with the “Shekinah” or the feminine aspect of the Deity (p.102); and “the blessed vision” is to be experienced, not with our eyes of sensual seeing, viewing, external perception or out-sight but with the eyes of spiritual introspection, of meditation, of contemplation and of in-sight (p.109).

    This book concludes with the inevitable descent back to grounded reality on earth and with some very “down-to-earth” questions and concerns. Stephenson expresses the desire to make sense of such a story historically, geographically and cosmologically (p.131). This includes the equally inevitable movement of Jesus from the Crown of Glory at Mount Tabor in Galilee as his Mountain of Transfiguration to the Cross of Gore at Mount Calvary in Jerusalem, which has become Jesus’ Hill of Torment and Torture. However, over and beyond this Hill of Torment lies the miraculously-depicted Tomb of Triumph over death and the miraculous and supernaturally-depicted Resurrection Jesus. Of interest is that the Gospel of Peter extends this miraculous context by depicting the two heavenly visitors at Jesus’ grave as the celestial escorts of Jesus straight up into Heaven, as described in the Gospel of Peter. This seems to indicate a conceptually simultaneous resurrection, ascension and assumption of “Yahweh Saves” into Heaven.

    No separate bibliography is provided but the relevant and important books and articles are included in the fourteen pages of useful end-notes.

    The Scientiufic Perspective

    In relation to a more scientific perspective on the Transfiguration Story, it has given rise to the idea that this apparent solar-epiphany may be a misplaced resurrection appearance and that it would make a suitable ending for the Gospel of Mark, where the ending appears to have been accidentally lost or perhaps deliberately removed. I prefer the latter. This Resurrection would then be viewed in the context of the daily solar cycle of darkness at night and the light of dawn, day-time and dusk each day. It could also be viewed in the context of the annual decline in the day-light and the inter-connected increase in the darkness from mid-Summer to mid-Winter, and then the reverse process of increasing light and decreasing darkness from mid-Winter to the mid-Summer solstice. Both daily and annual sun-cycles provide on-going sources for solar epiphanies and solar viewings on Galilean mountains and hills. Dawn services were an acknowledged aspect of early Christian worship. From this perspective, Peter experienced hill-top solar epiphanies, which he interpreted rationally as the presence in the sky or on a hill-top of the sun and which he viewed theologically as a manifestation to earth-based humans of his Hebrew deity “Yahweh”. Mathew’s version in chapter 17:2 even mentions Jesus face as appearing like the sun and Paul’s conversion in Acts 22:6-11 stresses that his viewing of a bright light at mid-day was also witnessed by his friends. Such a view would see in this sort of epiphany, manifestation or transfiguration in the experience of Peter, a connection with the foundation moment of Christianity. Some of the books listed below explore this further and it is an issue which should be discussed and not swept under the Christian carpet or put into the trash-bin.

    With the help of much-need intellectual honesty and a critical perspective, we may yet determine the degree of facticity and of fantasy in the first century literature available to us and to discover the actual and scientifically-supported origins of Christianity. This book may not provide definitive answers to the issue of Christianity’s origins but Stephenson’s various challenges certainly help its readers to continually bear in mind his wider issues, as well as this more specific, historically and spiritually important first-century-related question of origins. In my view, readers who are prepared to study both the surface, semantic or literal level and the sub-surface, symbolical or literary level of this enigmatic and multi-level Transfiguration Story, will greatly enjoy their intellectual and spiritual encounter with this rather unusual yet very insightful and very personalized book.

    Some Relevant Literature:

    Andreopoulos, Andreas, “Metamorphosis: The Transfiguration in Byzantine Theology and Iconography”, St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood NY 2005.

    Armstrong, Karen et al, “The Once and Future Faith”, Polebridge Press, P.O Box 6144 Santa Rosa California 95406, 2001, ISBN 0-944344-85-2, 187 pages.
    .
    Anderson, Janice Capel and Stephen D Moore, Editors, “Mark & Method: New Approaches in Biblical Studies”, Second Edition, Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 2008; ISBN978-0-8006-3851-1, 288 pages.

    Bauckham, Richard “Jesus and the God of Israel: ‘God Crucified’ and Other Studies on the New Testament’s Christology of Divine Identity” Paternoster, Milton Keynes UK 2008. ISBN 978-1-84227-538-2 (Paperback); $39.95 285 pages.

    Bourgeault, Cynthia, “The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind-a New
    Perspective on Christ and His Message” Shambala, Boston and London, 2008.

    Casey, Maurice, “Jesus of Nazareth: An Independent Historian’s Account of His Life and Teaching”, T&T Clark International, A Continuum Imprint, London and New York 2010; ISBN 13: 978-0-567-10408-3 (hardback) $183.95; 978-0-567-64517-3 (Paperback), $59.95, 560 pages.

    Conzelmann, Hans “The Theology of Saint Luke”, Faber and Faber, London 1960.

    Darlison, Bill: “The Gospel and the Zodiac: The Secret Truth about Jesus”, Duckworth Overlook, London, 2007.

    Fullmer, Paul M. “Resurrection in Mark’s Literary-Historical Perspective”, T&T Clark London, 2007; ISBN 0-567-04553-6; 256 pages.

    Heil, John Paul, “The Transfiguration of Jesus: Narrative Meaning and Function of Mark 9:2-8, Matt 17:1-8 and Luke 9:28-36”, Analecta Biblica 144, Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico, Roma 2000

    Henderson, Timothy: “The Gospel of Peter and Early Christian Apologetics: Rewriting the Story of Jesus’ Death, Burial and Resurrection”; Mohr Siebeck, Tubingen, Germany, 2011; ISBN 978-3-16-150709-0; 258 pages.

    Hoffmann, R. Joseph, Editor, “ Sources of the Jesus tradition: Separating History from Myth”, Prometheus Books, Amherst New York, 2010, ISBN 978-1-61614-189 (hard cover), 287 pages.

    Leaves, Nigel “The God Problem: Alternatives to Fundamentalism”, Polebridge Press, Santa Rosa, California, 2006.

    Leaves, Nigel, “Odyssey on the Sea of Faith: The Life and Writings of Don Cupitt”, Polebridge Press, Santa Rosa California, 2004; ISBN 0-944344-62-3 $28.95, 140 pages.

    Lee, Dorothy, “Transfiguration”, New Century Theology, Continuum, London, New York, 2004.

    Licona, Michael, “The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach”, Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove Illinois USA, 2010, ISBN 978-0-8308-2719-0 (paperback) , 718 pages.

    McGuckin, John Anthony “The Transfiguration of Christ in Scripture and Tradition”, Studies in the Bible and Early Christianity 9, Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston Queenston 1986.

    Ramsey, A.M. “The Glory of God and the Transfiguration of Christ”, Longmans, London, 1949; 2nd edition Libra Books, 1967.

    Taylor, J. Glen “Yahweh and the Sun: Biblical and Archaeological Evidence for Sun Worship in Ancient Israel”, JSOT (Journal for the Study of the Old Testament) Press Sheffield 1993.

    Thatcher, Tom, Editor, “Jesus the Voice and the Text: Beyond the Oral and the Written Gospel”, Baylor University Press, Waco Texas 2008, ISBN 978-1-932792-60-7, $69.95, 317 pages.

    Winn, Adam: “The Purpose of Mark’s Gospel: An Early Christian Response to Roman Imperial Propaganda”, Mohr Siebeck, Tubingen Germany, 2009.

    John Noack, June, 2012. Email: johnnoack@yahoo.com.au

    John Noack (BA DipEd) has been a Lutheran clergy-person at Rainbow in Victoria, Australia. He has been a Tutor in Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Melbourne Victoria and he has been a Teacher of History and World Religions at Trinity Grammar School in Kew, Victoria. He has conducted archaeological research at the Australian Institute of Archaeology and he has produced archaeological and text-related book reviews, which have been published in its Journal “Buried History”. He is at present engaged in an academic investigation into the many enigmas in the Gospel according to St Mark.

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