Dennis MacDonald dmacdon at
Tue Jun 12 10:50:14 EDT 2001

Joe, I think it exceptional that the reference to the clothing of Jesus 
gleaming like no earthly bleacher could produce (viz. a divine bleacher) in 
the context of a transfiguration both in the Odyssey and Mark can be no 
accident, especially in light of Jesus' command that the disciples not tell 
anyone what they had seen, like Odysseus to Telemachus. None of the 
examples you cite mentions a heavenly bleacher or a command to silence.
By the way, it's good to hear from you again.

-----Original Message-----
From:	JFAlward at [SMTP:JFAlward at]
Sent:	Monday, June 11, 2001 8:32 PM
To:	Kata Markon
Subject:	[gmark] Re:  Transfiguration/Resurrection

Dennis MacDonald:

Just a note, in my book The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark I argue 
the Transfiguration story is a christianization of Odysseus's 
to Telemachus in Odyssey 16. Here Athena dresses Odysseus in brilliant
clothing. Take a look.
Joe Alward:

The verse Dennis has is mind is: "and his clothes became dazzling white, 
as no launderer on earth could whiten them" (Mark 9:3), but the single
possible connection to Homer's Athena, who dressed Odysseus in a 
cloak," seems very weak compared to the several possible connections to the 

Old Testament:

Daniel 7:....Clothing whiter than snow
Lamentations 4:7....princes brighter than snow
Psalm 51:7....I will be whiter than snow
Ezekiel 8:2...I looked, and I saw a figure like that of a man. From what
appeared to be his waist down he was like fire, and from there up his
appearance was as bright as glowing metal.
Ezekiel 1:27....brilliant light surrounded him
Psalm 18:12....brightness of his presence
Psalm 13:9....light of the righteous shines brightly
Song of Solomon 6:10....bright as the sun
Daniel 12:3....will shine like the brightness of the heavens
1 Chronicles 15:27....Now David was clothed in a robe of fine linen, as 
all the Levites who were carrying the ark, and as were the singers, and
Kenaniah, who was in charge of the singing of the choirs. David also wore a 

linen ephod.
Ecclesiastes 9:8....Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head 

with oil.

As MacDonald himself points out on Page 96 of his book, "[I]t is quite
possible that the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai provided Mark with the 

setting upon a mountain, the presence of a cloud, a heavenly  voice, and
other details.  After all, Mark's Jesus speaks with Moses and Elijah, both 
whom were related to Mount Sinai."  It is much more than just "possible," 
my opinion; it seems extremely likely that Mark was using the Old Testament 

in the transfiguration story.  Furthermore, does it not seem much more 
that Mark had one or more of the images in the ten verses above in mind 
he spoke of Jesus' dazzling white clothes?  Can Homer's "well-washed cloak" 

really compete with Daniel's "clothing whiter than snow," or indeed with 
of the other images in the cited verses?

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