A tradition no older than the fourth century identifies the mountain as Mt. Tabor in Lower Galilee, but none of the Gospels identifies this mountain.


There are a number of minor differences which can now be explained from this perspective, although, if we did not have the background I have already provided, these small differences might seem more ambiguous. Matthew identifies the apostle John as “his [James’s] brother” (Matthew 17:2). Mark omits this identification. Matthew makes this same identification of John in Matthew 4:21 and 10:2. So he added the identification in the Transfiguration narrative.

The second time Moses and Elijah are mentioned (Mark 9:5 and Matthew 17:4), Moses is mentioned first and Elijah second in both Mark and Matthew. In Mark, the first time Moses and Elijah are mentioned, Elijah is mentioned first (Mark 9:4). We may assume Matthew reversed this order in the parallel passage (the second mention of Moses and Elijah; Matthew 17:3) for the sake of consistency, thereby eliminating the different orders of mention in Mark.

Matthew describes the cloud that descended on the disciples as “bright” (Matthew 17:5). This is omitted in the parallel passage from Mark. Matthew’s addition of the word “bright” was probably inspired by “the glory of the Lord [that] appeared in the cloud” in the Exodus narrative (Exodus 16:10). Obviously, both Mark’s and Matthew’s Transfiguration text made it clear that God is present in the cloud that descends on the disciples, but Matthew made it even more explicit by describing the cloud as “bright.”


Thus, for example, John’s Gospel contains no account of the institution of the Eucharist such as we find in Matthew 26:26–29; Mark 14:22–25 or Luke 22:15–20. Nonetheless, the essential meaning of this event is found in John 6:51–58, so John was certainly aware of it.


The subjective state of Jesus is expressed in a way parallel to Mark 14:34, “My soul is sorrowful unto death.” Both expressions in fact depend on Psalm 42:5, “Why are you sorrowful, my soul, and why do you trouble me.”


Also known as the Wisdom of Solomon, this book is contained in the Catholic canon and is part of the apocrypha for Jews and Protestants.