Gospel Study of Luke's Gospel
reported by John-Peter Gernaat
The Gospel Study began the study of the Gospel of Luke in the second half of 2022. In following the eight-fold path that Luke lays out in his gospel, as he explains that he will do in his opening introductory paragraph: set things in a certain order, we arrived at the Confession of Peter which encapsulates the first three paths. Christ asks the disciples: “… and who do you say that I am?” What is it that you understand (Right Understanding) from your thinking (Right Thinking) of who I am (Right Speech)?
We looked closely at the Transfiguration described by Luke. Michaël pointed out a difficulty in translation. This incident should start with “after eight days” and not “after about eight days”. The number eight is very significant. In the Hebrew tradition Creation was accomplished in seven days. The eighth day is thus the beginning of a new cycle of seven, but it is more than that. Holy Week is a recapitulation of Creation that ends with the human being on the cross before the seventh day. The seventh day is the day of rest. In this case the day of descending into the Underworld. The eighth day is Easter, the first day of the week, and the first day of a new beginning. It is the octave – taking creation to a higher level.
The vision of the Transfiguration which the disciples see is a prefiguring of what is to come. It is at once a reality but as yet not realised in a way that can always be seen (witnessed), hence it cannot remain in the everyday vision of the disciples; Peter, James and John. In Luke’s gospel the disciples fall asleep and wake up. They wake up just as Adam awoke after God put him into a sleep: he awoke to a new sense of himself, i.e. that a part of himself has been separated out and now stood before him as Eve. The disciples awake to a new sense of themselves and they realise that what they have seen cannot yet be spoken about (Right Speech). In the telling of the Transfiguration by Matthew, there is an instruction given to the disciples to not speak about this event. Luke wishes it to be clear that through Right Speech the individual discerns for himself what is the right speech and when is it right to be silent.
There are two men speaking with Jesus, Moses and Elijah. Moses led the Israelites in the desert for forty years. Elijah ran away from his mission into the desert for forty days. Jesus spent forty days in the desert after the Baptism. The number forty is the period of gestation (a human gestation is 40 weeks). It serves as a number for the recognition of an initiation. Moses brought the law; Elijah found the Divine in the ‘small slender silence’ at the opening in the cave on the mountain. The disciples see speaking with Jesus that with which the Christ is working: the law and its fulfilment – bringing the outer into the inner relationship.
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