The Transfiguration by Jean Corbon

My notes from Chapter 7: The Transfiguration in Jean Corbon’s The Wellspring of Worship

Points from the Chapter:

(1) We do not really understand the Transfiguration:

Celebrated “after Pentecost and in the bright light of summer (August 6th), “Christians are still too likely to misunderstand this event and look upon it as just one miracle among others, a kind of apologetic proof (91).

(2) The Transfiguration is the “counterpart and fulfillment” of “the theophany of the burning bush”

The Incarnate Word is the true burning bush because “the flame of his divinity does not consume his humanity but illumines it from within and shows through it” (89).

(3) The Transfiguration is deliberately made “the high point in the ministry of Jesus” (91) 

The Synoptic writers place the Transfiguration as the “historical and literary centre of the Gospel by reason of its mysterious realism: the humanity of Jesus is the vital place where men become God” (91). The entire purpose of this event is the salvation of men: “When our humanity consents without reservation to be united to the humanity of Jesus, it will share the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4); it will be divinized” (95).

(4) The radiance of the light in Jesus’ body is the “thrill of the Father” (93)

The transfiguration is a “moment of intensity in which the entire being of Jesus is utterly united with the compassion of the Father” (93). The radiance of the light in the suffering body of Jesus is, as it were, the thrill experienced by the Father in response to the total self-giving of his only Son… “This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him” (Mt 17:5).

(5) The change is on the side of the disciples.

 Christ “was transfigured, not by acquiring what he was not but by manifesting to his disciples what he in fact was; he opened their eyes and gave these blind men sight” ~ St John Damascene (92).

(6) “The body of the Lord Jesus is the sacrament that gives the life of God to men” (94-5).

“By his miracles Jesus shows himself to be the great and unique sacrament of God for man and of man for God” (89). “The divine energy no longer acts alone but,in the body of Christ, acts in synergy with a man; that is why Jesus is the great sacrament” (90). Therefore, “it is always in his body that the Word “comes” to save men” (87).

(7) The Transfiguration is the source of the sacramental liturgy (95). 

Eastern Churches consider the Transfiguration as the source of the sacramental liturgy (95). The body of Jesus is a sacrament in that it is “anointed” with the divine nature in the unity of the person of the Son (95). What we call sacraments are in fact the divinizing actions of the body of Christ in our own very humanity (95). The body of Christ is the sacrament of human salvation and God’s glorification. The liturgy creates in the Church the transfiguration of the “whole body”, which is now growing, the transforming union in which men become God (97).


  1. […] One of the The Eastern Fathers of the Church, John Damascene used to say that it wasn’t actually Jesus who transfigured, for he was always glorious even when he appeared in the simplest of forms as a child or weak on the cross. Rather, what happened was that the disciples finally became transfigured for a moment on the mountain and saw Jesus as he really was. […]

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