Lectionary Year B
March 5, 2000
Step II: Disposition
(JR) The pericope is a strange story narrative. It has some of the fantastic elements common to miracle stories, but it is missing anything that might be called a miracle—there is no healing or exorcism or subduing of nature. Yet there is the sight of the supernatural accompanied by the sound of the divine. The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms defines a theophany as "[a]n appearance of God that is perceptible to human sight" (282). The text indicates that the disciples do not know how to respond to the strange scene before them. They are fearful (reverent?) as they struggle to discern what to say; they are obedient as they wrestle with the order given by Jesus in verse 9. Their internal struggle with the meaning of the story unfolding before them leads me to call this passage a controversy narrative.
This is a theophany story - it fits the elements of other theophany stories like Moses in Ex. 19:20 and Elijah in I Kings 19:4-18. It has the elements of (1) mountain experience, (2) witnesses, (3) signs, and (4) shared experience. It also could be viewed as a revelation drama wherein it shows that Jesus is the Son of God.
B. QUESTIONS AND OBSERVATIONS
- What is the significance of Christ's garments becoming "exceedingly white"?
- What is the meaning of the presence of Elijah and Moses?
- In the divine utterance of verse 7, how is God's description of Jesus as a "beloved Son" related to the instruction to "hear him"?
- Is this story a theophany?
- How are we to respond to it? If the answer is to listen to Jesus, then how are we to know that a given voice belongs to him?
1. This story must be read in context of what happened before and after. It causes us to read Hebrew stories of Moses and Elijah and to read ahead to Revelation (Ch. 7) regarding the white garments that saints are wearing.
2. Mark says 6 days but Luke has 8 days in v. 2. Why the difference? (JA) Greek that Mark uses means "after six days" whereas Luke's Greek means "approximately eight days."
3. (JA) Since Mark does not have a post-resurrection story, is this a "non-conventional" resurrection type of story to reveal who Jesus is? Does this make all of the Jesus story in Mark a resurrection story for Mark?
4. (JD) Characters are important: Elijah represents the Prophets, Moses represents the Law Giver, and Peter, James, and John represent the inner circle....they also were with Jesus at the time of his pain in the garden. Is this saying the Law and Prophets are fulfilled in Jesus?...the changing of the old law into the new law? (this story comes right after the "call of the disciples story"). (FS) Why were Peter, James, and John there with Jesus? Why were Elijah and Moses there?
5. (CU) In terms of genre should we call this a report? Did it happen?
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