Friday, November 12, 2010

The Transfiguration

Title: The Transfiguration

Artist: Cornelis Monsma

Medium: Oil on canvas panel

Size: 76 x 96 cm

Date: 2006

Location: Private collection

The seventh miracle account that displays Jesus' power over nature is recorded in Luke 9:28-36. This miracle is known as the Transfiguration.

About eight days later Jesus took Peter, John, and James up on a mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly, two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared and began talking with Jesus. They were glorious to see. And they were speaking about his exodus from this world, which was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem. Peter and the others had fallen asleep. When they woke up, they saw Jesus’ glory and the two men standing with him. As Moses and Elijah were starting to leave, Peter, not even knowing what he was saying, blurted out, “Master, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three tabernacles — one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But even as he was saying this, a cloud overshadowed them, and terror gripped them as the cloud covered them. Then a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to him.” When the voice finished, Jesus was there alone. They didn’t tell anyone at that time what they had seen.

Cornelis Monsma, a modern day, self-professed expressionist visual artist, seeks to create modern Christian art work that “aims to visualize the deeper truth of Christianity.” Biblical inspiration has produced colorful contemporary artwork, with an expressionist, abstract flavor. Monsma, Friesian-Dutch born, resides in New Zealand and is inspired by the paintings and colors of Marc Chagall. More artwork can be viewed on the website

Title: Transfiguration

Artist: Girolamo Savoldo

Medium: Oil on Wood

Size: 139 x 126 cm

Date: c. 1520

Location: Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.

The disciples are trying to come to grips with what is happening. In their view Jesus is another great figure, like Moses and Elijah. He will found a people like Moses and sustain them through hope like Elijah. So Peter suggests they together celebrate Tabernacles, a feast that looked forward to the eschaton. Peter wants to enjoy the moment and prolong it in celebration. He wants to stay on the mountaintop for as long as possible. But Luke makes it clear that Peter has spoken because he did not know what he was saying. The voice from heaven explains: they need to listen to Jesus so they will understand his uniqueness, call and destiny to suffer. Also, as their role is not merely to contemplate Jesus but to serve him. Celebration awaits in the future, but now is a time for instruction, response and action. There is the divine voice, which stops all discussion between the disciples and Jesus, and there is the central instruction to listen to Jesus. The point in both cases is that instruction is needed, because the path Jesus walks is unexpected.

Girolamo Savoldo, also called Girolamo da Brescia (c. 1480 – after 1548) was an Italian High Renaissance painter. Active mainly in Venice, his output was small and his career is said to have been unsuccessful, but he is now remembered as a highly attractive minor master whose work stands somewhat apart from the main Venetian tradition. He carefully studied the effects of light and reflections in a way that was most unusual for the time, and had links to the current of realism and acute psychological portrayal.

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