<p>This week we reflect on the readings for this week in year A, which is the eighth and last Sunday in Epiphany: Exodus 24:12-18, 2 Peter 1:16-21, Matthew 17:1-9.</p>
All these themes—appearance of the glory, divine condescension, building of a tabernacle—return in the tale of the transfiguration, a set of parallels not lost on the fathers of the church. Indeed, the Greek Fathers were fond of drawing parallels between this epiphany of the incarnate Son and its important forerunner in the Old Testament. What Brevard Childs, in his Exodus, wrote in summary of chapter 24 could just as easily be transferred to the moment of the transfiguration: “But in light of God’s complete otherness [which occasioned all the concern for purity of body and character—GAA], the all-encompassing focus of the chapter falls on God’s mercy and gracious condescension. It is this theme which lies at the heart of the witness of the Sinai Covenant.”
-Gary A. Anderson
It is clear, in any case, that in these verses 2 Peter is addressing both the power and danger of biblical texts. Modern Christians know both well. Biblical texts often speak to us with all the wonder and clarity of the morning star rising in our hearts. These same texts divide us from one another. As we well know, we often choose who will be in or out of a community by how they read or do not read certain texts. 2 Peter witnesses to both. It includes as aggressive an attack on Christian opponents as we have in the New Testament. And it includes a series of wonderful and gentle images of the Christian life. The Bible is a powerful and dangerous text.
-Lewis R. Donelson
These connections also shed new light on the meaning of the fundamental claim of the prologue to John’s Gospel, where the Evangelist sums up the mystery of Jesus: “And the Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us” (Jn 1:14). Indeed, the Lord has pitched the tent of his body among us and has thus inaugurated the messianic age. Following this line of thought, Gregory of Nyssa reflected on the connection between the Feast of Tabernacles and the Incarnation in a magnificent text. He says that the Feast of Tabernacles, though constantly celebrated, remained unfulfilled. “For the true Feast of Tabernacles had not yet come. According to the words of the Prophet, however [an allusion to Psalm 118:27], God, the Lord of all things, has revealed himself to us in order to complete the construction of the tabernacle of our ruined habitation, human nature” (De anima, PG 46, 132B, cf. Daniélou, Bible and Liturgy, pp. 344f.)