BEN: In regard to the Transfiguration story, I had always thought that Moses and Elijah represented the Law and the Prophets attesting to Jesus as the Messiah, as God’s Son. One wonders how Peter knew it was Moses and Elijah—did they have Hebrew name tags J? And Luke says they conversed with Jesus about his ‘exodus’. I take your point about Peter perhaps thinking these were the 3 great figures of the messianic age, but surely you are also right that the point of the story is to distinguish Jesus from his illustrious predecessors— the disciples need to listen to Him!! I also agree this is a preview of Christ coming in glory, not a preview of the resurrected Christ. If this Gospel was indeed ‘the Gospel for all Christians’ how do you think the earliest hearers of this tale would have understood it?
RICHARD: If they were to represent the Law and the Prophets, Elijah would by an odd choice of prophet.(Isaiah would be much more appropriate.) To explain Elijah I think we have to think of their expected eschatological roles. I don’t know how Peter recognized them! But Elijah had a very distinctive way of dressing. Maybe it’s a bit like in dreams we know who someone is without it being evident. A lot of early Christians could not easily have grasped the full meaning of the scene, but again I want to say that Gospels were read in communities. One of the functions of “teachers” in the churches would have been to explain such things to others. In general, the NT writers really seem to have expected Gentile Christians to become very familiar with the OT.
BEN: I’ve always taken the story about the centurion in Mk. 15 as the hint that Gentiles were going to recognize Jesus as God’s Son, and indeed by the time this was written were already doing so. First God recognized Jesus as such in Mk. 1, then the Jewish disciples in Mk. 9, then Gentiles in Mk. 15. Is this a wrong way to read the progression?
RICHARD: Yes, I hadn’t thought of that but it works well.