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|New American Bible|
2002 11 11
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1 2 After six days Jesus took
Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by
3 And he was transfigured before them; his face
shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.
4 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them,
conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, "Lord,
it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents 5
here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
While he was still speaking, behold, a bright
cloud cast a shadow over them, 6 then from the cloud came a
voice that said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him."
7 When the disciples heard this, they fell
prostrate and were very much afraid.
But Jesus came and touched them, saying,
"Rise, and do not be afraid."
And when the disciples raised their eyes, they
saw no one else but Jesus alone.
8 As they were coming down from the mountain,
Jesus charged them, "Do not tell the vision 9 to anyone
until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead."
10 Then the disciples asked him, "Why do the
scribes say that Elijah must come first?"
He said in reply, 11
"Elijah will indeed come and restore all things;
but I tell you that Elijah has already come,
and they did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased. So also
will the Son of Man suffer at their hands."
12 Then the disciples understood that he was
speaking to them of John the Baptist.
13 When they came to the crowd a man approached,
knelt down before him,
and said, "Lord, have pity on my son, for
he is a lunatic 14 and suffers severely; often he falls into
fire, and often into water.
I brought him to your disciples, but they could
not cure him."
Jesus said in reply, "O faithless and
perverse 15 generation, how long will I be with you? How
long will I endure you? Bring him here to me."
Jesus rebuked him and the demon came out of
him, 16 and from that hour the boy was cured.
Then the disciples approached Jesus in private
and said, "Why could we not drive it out?"
17 He said to them, "Because of your little
faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you
will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing
will be impossible for you."
19 As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said
to them, "The Son of Man is to be handed over to men,
and they will kill him, and he will be raised on
the third day." And they were overwhelmed with grief.
20 When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of
the temple tax 21 approached Peter and said, "Doesn't
your teacher pay the temple tax?"
"Yes," he said. 22
When he came into the house, before he had time to speak, Jesus asked him,
"What is your opinion, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take
tolls or census tax? From their subjects or from foreigners?"
23 When he said, "From foreigners,"
Jesus said to him, "Then the subjects are exempt.
But that we may not offend them, 24
go to the sea, drop in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up. Open its
mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax. Give that to them
for me and for you."
1 [1-8] The account of the
transfiguration confirms that Jesus is the Son of God
(⇒ Matthew 17:5) and points to fulfillment of the
prediction that he will come in his Father's glory at the end of the age
(⇒ Matthew 16:27). It has been explained by some as
a resurrection appearance retrojected into the time of Jesus' ministry, but
that is not probable since the account lacks many of the usual elements of the
resurrection-appearance narratives. It draws upon motifs from the Old Testament
and noncanonical Jewish apocalyptic literature that express the presence of the
heavenly and the divine, e.g., brilliant light, white garments, and the
2  These three disciples are also taken
apart from the others by Jesus in Gethsemane (⇒ Matthew
26:37). A high mountain: this has been identified with Tabor or
Hermon, but probably no specific mountain was intended by the evangelist or by
his Marcan source (⇒ Matthew 9:2). Its meaning is
theological rather than geographical, possibly recalling the revelation to
Moses on Mount Sinai (⇒ Exodus 24:12-18) and to
Elijah at the same place (⇒ 1 Kings 19:8-18; Horeb
3  His face shone like the sun:
this is a Matthean addition; cf ⇒ Daniel 10:6. His
clothes became white as light: cf ⇒ Daniel 7:9 where
the clothing of God appears "snow bright." For the white garments of
other heavenly beings, see ⇒ Rev 4:4;
⇒ 7:9; ⇒ 19:14.
4  See the note on
⇒ Mark 9:5.
5  Three tents: the booths in
which the Israelites lived during the feast of Tabernacles (cf
⇒ John 7:2) were meant to recall their ancestors'
dwelling in booths during the journey from Egypt to the promised land (⇒ Lev
23:39-42). The same Greek word, skene, here translated tents, is used
in the LXX for the booths of that feast, and some scholars have suggested that
there is an allusion here to that liturgical custom.
6  Cloud cast a shadow over them:
see the note on ⇒ Mark 9:7. This is my beloved Son .
. . listen to him: cf ⇒ Matthew 3:17. The voice
repeats the baptismal proclamation about Jesus, with the addition of the command
listen to him. The latter is a reference to ⇒ Deut
18:15 in which the Israelites are commanded to listen to the prophet
like Moses whom God will raise up for them. The command to listen to Jesus is
general, but in this context it probably applies particularly to the preceding
predictions of his passion and resurrection (⇒ Matthew
16:21) and of his coming (⇒ Matthew
16:27, ⇒ 28).
7 [6-7] A Matthean addition; cf
⇒ Daniel 10:9-10,
8  In response to the disciples'
question about the expected return of Elijah, Jesus interprets the mission of
the Baptist as the fulfillment of that expectation. But that was not suspected
by those who opposed and finally killed him, and Jesus predicts a similar fate
9  The vision: Matthew alone uses
this word to describe the transfiguration. Until the Son of Man has been raised
from the dead: only in the light of Jesus' resurrection can the meaning of his
life and mission be truly understood; until then no testimony to the vision
will lead people to faith. ⇒ Matthew 17:9-13
10  See the notes on
⇒ Matthew 3:4; ⇒ 16:14.
11 [11-12] The preceding question and
this answer may reflect later controversy with Jews who objected to the Christian
claims for Jesus that Elijah had not yet come.
12  See
⇒ Matthew 11:14.
13 [14-20] Matthew has greatly
shortened the Marcan story (⇒ Matthew 9:14-29).
Leaving aside several details of the boy's illness, he concentrates on the need
for faith, not so much on the part of the boy's father (as does Mark, for
Matthew omits ⇒ Mark 9:22b-24) but on that of his
own disciples whose inability to drive out the demon is ascribed to their
little faith (⇒ Matthew 17:20).
14  A lunatic: this description of
the boy is peculiar to Matthew. The word occurs in the New Testament only here
and in ⇒ Matthew 4:24 and means one affected or
struck by the moon. The symptoms of the boy's illness point to epilepsy, and
attacks of this were thought to be caused by phases of the moon.
15  Faithless and perverse: so
Matthew and Luke (Matthew 9:41) against Mark's
faithless (⇒ Matthew 9:19). The Greek word here
translated perverse is the same as that in ⇒ Deut
32:5 LXX, where Moses speaks to his people. There is a problem in
knowing to whom the reproach is addressed. Since the Matthean Jesus normally
chides his disciples for their little faith (as in ⇒ Matthew
17:20), it would appear that the charge of lack of faith could not be
made against them and that the reproach is addressed to unbelievers among the
Jews. However in ⇒ Matthew 17:20b (if you have
faith the size of a mustard seed), which is certainly addressed to the
disciples, they appear to have not even the smallest faith; if they had, they
would have been able to cure the boy. In the light of
⇒ Matthew 17:20b the reproach of
⇒ Matthew 17:17 could have applied to the
disciples. There seems to be an inconsistency between the charge of little
faith in ⇒ Matthew 17:20a and that of not even a
little in ⇒ Matthew 17:20b.
16  The demon came out of him: not
until this verse does Matthew indicate that the boy's illness is a case of
17  The entire verse is an
addition of Matthew who (according to the better attested text) omits the
reason given for the disciples' inability in ⇒ Mark 9:29.
Little faith: see the note on Matthew 6, 30. Faith the size of a mustard seed .
. . and it will move: a combination of a Q saying (cf ⇒ Luke
17:6) with a Marcan saying (cf ⇒ Mark
18  Some manuscripts add,
"But this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting"; this
is a variant of the better reading of ⇒ Mark 9:29.
19 [22-23] The second passion
prediction (cf ⇒ Matthew 16:21-23) is the least
detailed of the three and may be the earliest. In the Marcan parallel the
disciples do not understand (⇒ Matthew 9:32); here
they understand and are overwhelmed with grief at the prospect of Jesus' death
(⇒ Matthew 17:23).
20 [24-27] Like
⇒ Matthew 14:28-31 and ⇒ Matthew
16:16b-19, this episode comes from Matthew's special material on
Peter. Although the question of the collectors concerns Jesus' payment of the
temple tax, it is put to Peter. It is he who receives instruction from Jesus
about freedom from the obligation of payment and yet why it should be made. The
means of doing so is provided miraculously. The pericope deals with a problem
of Matthew's church, whether its members should pay the temple tax, and the
answer is given through a word of Jesus conveyed to Peter. Some scholars see
here an example of the teaching authority of Peter exercised in the name of
Jesus (see ⇒ Matthew 16:19). The specific problem
was a Jewish Christian one and may have arisen when the Matthean church was
composed largely of that group.
21  The temple tax: before the
destruction of the Jerusalem temple in A.D. 70 every male Jew above nineteen
years of age was obliged to make an annual contribution to its upkeep (cf
⇒ Exodus 30:11-16; ⇒ Nehemiah
10:33). After the destruction the Romans imposed upon Jews the
obligation of paying that tax for the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus. There is
disagreement about which period the story deals with.
22  From their subjects or from
foreigners?: the Greek word here translated subjects literally means
23  Then the subjects are exempt:
just as subjects are not bound by laws applying to foreigners, neither are
Jesus and his disciples, who belong to the kingdom of heaven, bound by the duty
of paying the temple tax imposed on those who are not of the kingdom. If the
Greek is translated "sons," the freedom of Jesus, the Son of God, and
of his disciples, children ("sons") of the kingdom (cf
⇒ Matthew 13:38), is even more clear.
24  That we may not offend them:
though they are exempt (⇒ Matthew 17:26), Jesus and
his disciples are to avoid giving offense; therefore the tax is to be paid. A
coin worth twice the temple tax: literally, "a stater," a Greek coin
worth two double drachmas. Two double drachmas were equal to the Jewish shekel
and the tax was a half-shekel. For me and for you: not only Jesus but Peter
pays the tax, and this example serves as a standard for the conduct of all the
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