The Mythical Interpretation of the Gospels: Critical Studies in the Historic Narratives

By Thomas James Thorburn | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
THE TRANSFIGURATION

WE may once more conveniently open our discussion of this event in the life of Jesus with a short summary of the view of it taken by D. F. Strauss, which may be quoted as A fair sample of what we have termed the "common-sense" type of mythical criticism. He comments upon it ( Life of Jesus, III, pp. 247 and 248) as follows:

"To comprehend how such a narrative could be formed by the legend, we should examine, in the first place, the peculiarity to the essence of which the other peculiarities most readily attach themselves, viz., the brilliance which rendered the face of Jesus like the sun and the bright light with which even his garments were invested. For the Orientals, and in particular for the Hebrews, the fine and majestic is almost always connected with something luminous. Solomon in his Songs compares his beloved to the morning, to the noon, to the sun (6 : 10); pious men sustained by the divine blessing are compared to the sun in his glory (Judges 5 : 31); and especially the future life of the blessed is compared to the brilliance of the firmament (Daniel 13 : 3; Matt. 13 : 43). In consequence, not only does God appear in a burst of light, and the angels with luminous countenances and shining garments (Psalm 50 : 2 and 3; Daniel 7 : 9; 10 : 5 and 6; Luke 24 : 4; Rev. 1 : 13-16), but also the pious individuals of Jewish antiquity. . . .

"In the same way the Jewish posterior legend endowed

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