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A few Transfiguration questions

by ToddPeperkorn ~ January 28th, 2009

Why is “horama” translated as vision in verse nine? Does the word have some connotation of ecstatic vision? I just wonder if the word has some sense that the event isn’t real. Obviously, I don’t believe that, but our use of the word vision seems to almost imply it.

4 Responses to A few Transfiguration questions

  1. chaz_lehmann

    Hey Todd,

    Sorry about my disappearance, I went for my Synopsis Quattor Evangelorum and my internet connection died. It’s been in and out all day because of the ice storm.

    I looked up horama in TDNT and I got the impression that it could have the sense of a prophetic vision. Horao is often used in that way in the LXX. But if you compare Mark 9:9, it looks like it could also be simply referring to what the disciples saw that day. Mark uses the verb form. Even so, that doesn’t exclude that this was a prophetic vision.

    My first thought was that the prophecy implicit in horama might be the words that they heard on the mountain.

    In any case, I don’t think horama is incompatible with the story being things as they were.

  2. Eric Brown

    As I did classical Greek before biblical, I went to the Perseus project at Tufts and got the Middle Liddle page for the word – and it notes that orama has the classical overtone as that which is seen, a spectacle. I think this makes good sense, especially considering the modern English word “diorama” – which is something that is designed to be seen.

    I think it just means more precisely don’t speak of that seen-event until later. Spectacle sounds too negative in English though. . . especially with the verb “tell” in front of it.— if I were doing a literal translation, I probably would have gone with spectacle – if I were to do a more dynamic translation I would put “saying, ‘Tell no one *what you have seen* until. . .”

  3. ToddPeperkorn

    Do you understand my nervousness with translating it as “vision”? Vision just has such a connotation in our culture of freakish or not real. vision literally means the same as spectacle, “that which is seen”. But they both mean something very different today.

  4. Eric Brown

    I see the concern – that’s why I’d prefer”what you have seen” – vision has the connotation of something that is just in the prophet’s head. . . however, that’s not how “vision” is used even in the Old Testament. A vision can be something that is quite real and physical but is observed – maybe talk about Isaiah 6 or Ezekiel and the Dry Bones – visions aren’t just la-la-land. . . and if you hear someone talking about their “visions” as though they were in la-la-land, you can tell they aren’t from God.

    There is another connotation to vision today – that of being a business vision – leaders are supposed to have “vision” – so they can lead people. You can play off of this connotation of the word (even though it isn’t perhaps the direct connotation of the Greek) — what is our goal, what is our aim – we look forward to the life everlasting where we will see Christ face to face in heaven — the Transfiguration is a glimpse of heaven, a glimpse of the vision that we all will see.

    When words have strange meanings attached to them – address the meaning, say that isn’t what we are dealing with, and then correct it. Undercut false assumptions up front.

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