The word transfiguration derives from the Latin trānsfigūrāre and refers to transformation and change in form or appearance. The term is specifically used in reference to the change of appearance in Jesus Christ as narrated in the Christian biblical accounts of Matthew 17:2, Mark 9:2–3, and Luke 9:28–36.
The gospels report the transfiguration event as Jesus taking three of his disciples – John, James, and Peter – to pray with him on a mountain top. Going up on the mountain (óros) is significant in that it is the place set aside for prayer. While he was praying at the top of the mountain, Jesus was transfigured. “The appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white” (1952, RSV).
The original Greek term for this phenomenon was metemorphothe. Metamorphosis refers to a conspicuous physical and rather sudden change in one’s form or structure. In the biblical event, the disciples witnessed Jesus’ face shining like the sun and his garments a...
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