The Holy Transfiguration of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ


Christ went up to Mt. Tabor in order to show the glory of His Divinity. This could also have taken place on a plain in a remote place. But why did He prefer the mountain?

In early times all the great events usually took place on a higher place, on high and low mountains, just as the pagans also used to do, who performed their sacrifices on the mountains. Christ showed the magnitude of His glory on Mt. Tabor, for the manifestation of the deification (theosis) of human nature is the greatest even in the history of mankind.

Then, as Christ said, He came to seek the sheep that had gone astray, which was lost on the mountain. So Christ went up on the mountain to show that He had found the sheep that had gone astray and freed it from sin and the devil, that He was the true shepherd of men (Saint Gregory the Theologian).

Again, His going up on the mountain shows that all who want to see the glory of the Divinity in the human nature of the Logos (Word) must come out of lowness, leave the low things and go up high, that is to say they must be purified of all the earthly things that keep them bound on the earth.

Christ's Transfiguration took place during the day. The Disciples saw two suns, sensory and noetic. In one of his troparia (hymns) St. John of Damaskos writes: "The visible sun was eclipsed by the rays of Thy Divinity when it saw three transfigured on Mount Tabor, O my Jesus". That is to say, the sun of our senses was hidden and made to disappear by the rays of Christ's Divinity. Perhaps at first they saw two lights, the created and the uncreated, as the Saints say who have such experiences, but when they saw a greater energy of the Divinity, they lost the sensory sun completely. Saint Isaac the Syrian says that the Disciples on Tabor saw two suns "one in the sky as usual and one contrary to the usual".

Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite says that on Mt. Tabor at the time of Christ's Transfiguration there was a great and frightful sight. First, because two suns rose, something which creation had never known. It is not a question of one sun, the so-called parhelion, the image of the sun appearing before sunrise, and then the real the sun appearing, but of two suns, and indeed at midday. Secondly, it is a frightful sight because one is the sun known to our senses rising from the heavens and the other is intelligible, rising from the earth. This second sun was incomparably higher than the sensible sun, which rose from the heavens. And just as with the rising of the sensible sun all the stars in the sky disappear, so too the rays of the sensible sun disappeared with the rising of the Sun of Righteousness.

To be sure, not all men on earth saw the glory of the intelligible sun at that moment, but only the Disciples and the Prophets who appeared. Saint Gregory Palamas says that the sensible sun is seen by all who dwell on the earth, apart, of course, from anyone who is blind, while the intelligible Sun of Righteousness is seen by those who are worthy and prepared. And analyzing this thought of his, he says that since the sensible sun has no soul or reason or will, all men see it, while the noetic sun has not only a nature and a natural brightness and glory, but also a prepared will, and therefore it is manifested to anyone it wishes and as long as it wishes. Therefore the intelligible and uncreated light is seen by all to whom God grants the experience, since God reveals Himself to those He wishes, and this revelation is according to the spiritual condition of the people who are granted it.

We have emphasized before that this Light that the Disciples saw on Mt. Tabor was not a created reality, but the light of Divinity. Furthermore, it was not a hidden nature in Christ, but the Divinity which deified the human nature. Christ had two natures, divine and human, united in his hypostasis without change, confusion, separation, alteration, division. The Disciples were granted to see this glory of the Divinity in the human nature of the Logos (Word)...

This Light on Mt. Tabor was the glory of Divinity. According to Saint John of Damaskos, the word 'divinity' points to God's nature and His energy, while the word 'God' points to the Person, the Hypostasis. We cannot call the Father alone or the Son alone or the Holy Spirit alone the divinity. We can say God the Father, God the Logos (Word), the Divine Spirit, but never the divinity of the Father, as if it were something separate from the divinity of the Son and the divinity of the Holy Spirit.

The word 'divinity', since it points to the nature, can be applied to the energy as well, and therefore we can speak of a 'transcendent divinity', which points to the nature, which is wholly impossible to share, and a 'divinity lowered', which points to the energy, which is shared by man. The divinity is always one and in three hypostases (Saint Gregory Palamas).

The word for divinity 'theoria' has many meanings, and points to different theological truths. Saint Gregory Palamas offers some interpretive analyses that indicate that etimology and derivation of this word. It points to the Omnipresence of God. It also indicates being nowhere, in essence and nature. It relates to the word for air, suggesting burning and consuming all wickedness, and indicates God's brightness, His energy, which burns everything sinful. The word can be also derived from the word 'to see', indicating that God sees and knows all things even before their birth. It also indicates God's foresight or providence, being connected with seeing in the sense of overseeing. In addition it relates to deifying. All these etymological meanings point to the many energies of God, His Providence, Brightness and Deifying energy, as well as to the impossibility or participating in God's essence or nature.

The full theological statement about this subject is that the Disciples on Tabor did not see His nature, but they saw the uncreated energy of the Trinitarian God the human nature of the Logos (Word).

(To be continued)



The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.


Glory Be To GOD For All Things!


With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George