Last week at Priestly Formation, we were talking about the Prayer Book and its many revisions. I voiced my opinion for the brilliance of the 1928 version, and stated that I intend to use it (with a few lectionary changes) once I am in my own parish.
In the last week I have also been reading many bits and bobs about the Transfiguration. It seems that there was no special celebration within the Prayer Book until 1928, when it was given a collect and epistle reading, along with the relevant verses from the Gospel (Mark 9).
I was fully expecting to find the epistle to be from 2 Peter:
For we did not follow cunningly devised fables,
when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
For he received from God the Father honour and glory,
when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory,
This is my beloved Son,
in whom I am well pleased:
and this voice we ourselves heard come out of heaven,
when we were with him in the holy mount.
And we have the word of prophecy made more sure;
whereunto ye do well that ye take heed,
as unto a lamp shining in a dark place,
until the day dawn,
and the day–star arise in your hearts:
2 Peter 1:16-19 RV
This is the epistle in the lectionary we use at church, the Revised Common Lectionary. It makes sense: a very clear reference to the actual event. The event, and Peter's eyewitness, is used as proof of Jesus' divine Sonship.
However, the BCP 1928 has the following:
Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us,
that we should be called children of God:
and such we are.
For this cause the world knoweth us not,
because it knew him not.
Beloved, now are we children of God,
and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be.
We know that,
if he shall be manifested,
we shall be like him;
for we shall see him even as he is.
And every one that hath this hope set on him purifieth himself,
even as he is pure.
1 John 3:1-3 RV
On the outset, the former choice may be more appropriate. However, closer investigation reveals a greater meaning:
we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is.
1 John 3:2 RV
At the Transfiguration, it wasn't Jesus changing into something, or becoming God; it is more like a veil was lifted, and he was revealed as he truly is: the Son of God.
As William Blake said:
If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.
(The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, xxii)