My verse for the day is 2 Peter 1:17
For he received from God the Father honour and glory when such a voice came to him from the Excellent Glory: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
The author is describing a visionary experience. While most of us familiar with the Bible have probably assumed the author is referring to the Transfiguration scene in the synoptic gospels, a more attentive reading suggests that this passage is independent of the synoptic scene, and that the synoptic authors more likely created their transfiguration scenes from a tradition of visions such as we read here in 2 Peter. (My point is not to argue that particular case here, but one argument for it is available online here.)
A little while ago I was discussing Paul’s visionary experiences and comparing them with the sorts of vision we also find described in the Ascension of Isaiah. I have since created a special archive for my posts discussing visions, and this post about the vision in 2 Peter will join that archive.
The detail in 2 Peter 1:17 that has been quietly tapping away in the back of my head is the refrain: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
These are the same words spoken “from the Excellent Glory” to Jesus when he emerged from the waters of baptism in the Gospel of Mark. That evangelist chose these words to introduce Jesus at the outset of his ministry on earth. Yet I suggest they were originally known to that author through familiarity with claims of certain apostles to have heard the words in a vision of the glorified Son of God.
As explained in previous posts, one of the preparations one had to undergo prior to receiving a vision was to focus intently on certain scriptures (Old Testament). So what passages would have inspired the hearing of these words?
There is a passage in Genesis where a heavenly voice says something very similar:
Take your beloved son, the one you love, and offer him up as a burnt sacrifice (Genesis 22:2).
Isaac was taken up to a mountain to be sacrificed. The vision in 2 Peter, and visions in the Enochian tradition generally, were associated with a holy mountain. (I know tradition has Isaac sacrificed on Mount Moriah and the Enochian visions were associated with Mount Hermon. But was the visionary taken up to “a mountain” as others ascended to a heavenly temple? 2 Peter is certainly very “Enochian” with its emphasis on fallen angels and related future judgments.)
And another in Isaiah:
This is My servant, whom I uphold,
My chosen one, in whom I delight.
I have put My spirit upon him,
He shall teach the true way to the nations. (Isaiah 42:1)
And we know that the following chapters in Isaiah speak of the redemptive suffering of that same servant.
No doubt I remain influenced by a work by Levenson that argued Isaac was displaced by Jesus in a certain Second Temple sectarian mythology of an atoning sacrifice.
I can understand a gospel author taking such a phrase and applying it to Jesus from the moment he appears on stage. The heavenly voice of favour marks him for (redemptive) suffering and destruction. (And visions were also associated with locations beside waters.)
The passage in 2 Peter could possibly be evidence that this Son was revealed – in vision – in majestic form as a conqueror, yes, but also as a Son who had suffered, even been slain as Isaac had been. Is that why the verse for the day speaks of him being bestowed with honour and glory? Had he not had honour and glory for a time prior to this moment?
The vision was said to confirm the prophetic word (1:19). Was that not the word of Isaiah, and of Genesis?
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