The adoration of the three apostles (Mt 17:6-17:8)

“When the disciples heard this,

They fell to the ground,

Face down.

They were overcome

With fear.

But Jesus came.

He touched them.

Saying.

‘Get up!

Do not be afraid!’

When they looked up,

They saw no one

Except Jesus himself alone.”

 

καὶ ἀκούσαντες οἱ μαθηταὶ ἔπεσαν ἐπὶ πρόσωπον αὐτῶν καὶ ἐφοβήθησαν σφόδρα.

καὶ προσῆλθεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς καὶ ἁψάμενος αὐτῶν εἶπεν Ἐγέρθητε καὶ μὴ φοβεῖσθε.

πάραντες δὲ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτῶν οὐδένα εἶδον εἰ μὴ αὐτὸν Ἰησοῦν μόνον.

 

This adoration of the apostles can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 9:8, Luke, chapter 9:36, and here in Matthew, which is more elaborate, even though there are other differences in all 3 accounts.  When the disciples heard (καὶ ἀκούσαντες οἱ μαθηταὶ) this voice from the cloud say that Jesus was the beloved Son, in whom the Father was well pleased, they fell face down to the ground (ἔπεσαν ἐπὶ πρόσωπον αὐτῶν).  They were greatly terrified (ἔπεσαν ἐπὶ πρόσωπον αὐτῶν).  However, Jesus came (καὶ προσῆλθεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς) to them.  He touched them (καὶ ἁψάμενος αὐτῶν).  Then he told them to get up (εἶπεν Ἐγέρθητε) and not be afraid (μὴ φοβεῖσθε).  When they looked up or lifted up their eyes (πάραντες δὲ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτῶν), they saw no one (οὐδένα εἶδον), but only Jesus himself alone (εἰ μὴ αὐτὸν Ἰησοῦν μόνον).  Where were Moses and Elijah?  Was this just a dream?

The beloved son (Mt 3:17-3:17)

“A voice

From heaven

Said.

‘This is my Son

The beloved one.

I am well pleased

With him.’”

 

καὶ ἰδοὺ φωνὴ ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν λέγουσα Οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ Υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός, ἐν ᾧ εὐδόκησα

 

This voice from the heavens (καὶ ἰδοὺ φωνὴ ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν) did not address Jesus personally, as in Mark, chapter 1:11, and Luke, chapter 3:22.  However, the idea of a heavenly voice had a very strong tradition in the Jewish writings of the Hebrew Bible, especially among the prophets.  This voice of God the Father said that Jesus was his most beloved son (λέγουσα Οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ Υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός), in whom he was well pleased (ἐν ᾧ εὐδόκησα).  The gospel writers did not clarify whether others saw and heard these things.  In fact, this saying and incident after the baptism of Jesus might have been the basis for a Subordinationschristologie that Jesus the Son was somehow subordinate to the Father.  According to this adoption theory, God the Father had to send his Spirit to anoint and empower Jesus in this concrete event, before he could begin his public ministry.  This adoptionist theory, and the Christological disputes of the later 4th century CE, led to the diminution of this baptismal event within later patristic and medieval theological circles.  Nevertheless, the baptism of Jesus has become the starting point for any theological reflection about early Christian initiation practices.  It is not clear whether all the primitive Christian communities linked the baptism of Jesus with the baptism of the new followers of Christ, despite the fact that many post-apostolic Christians did so.