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"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, con
cerning the word of life -- the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it ...." I John 1:1-2 (RSV)

"After his resurrection the disciples saw the living Christ, whom they knew to have died, with the eyes of faith (oculata fide)." Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, III, 55, 2 ad 1, as quoted in D. M. Stanley, Jesus in Gethsemane (New York, Paulist Press 1980).

Monday, August 27, 2012

Take Shelter - Walter Brueggemann

I try to keep my eyes open, not just for words that can a change person, but for images.  This certainly is an apocalyptic image –which I found  here  -  but we don't know where it's from.  (If anyone recognizes this please let me know and I will place it and give credit.)  This pic says that  something big is going to happen.  It reminds me of the film Take Shelter with Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain.  The Bible is no different.  We  hear the readings from the Gospels week after week, and if we are tired we yawn.  That's a shame, because something big is happening in the Gospels.

More and more I see that we can't fully recognize  the the shock of Jesus' entry into the world without study of the OT.  That's why I'm doing a slow and careful  reading of  Walter Brueggemann's 1982 commentary on  Genesis.   It is the best OT commentary that I have ever read. A slow reading means I read the chapter from Genesis, then read two or three pages from Brueggemann's book, and think about it.  After that,  I look up all of the Bible verses he cites and which he quotes from, first from the Genesis text, and then from other parts of the Bible.  And I am having a great time taking notes in a paper (not computer) notebook.    Brueggemann's main theme for me is:  The Lord is passionate about accomplishing his purposes, even if his ways are mysterious and surprising.  I will have several more posts about Brueggemann's book.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Jesus' Word of Warning - John Chapter 6

Christians talk often about "spiritual food" for spiritual  growth.  I know that this means more than the Eucharist.  The church cites St. Augustine who said that the believer's "food  from  heaven"  is the Eucharist, but this daily spiritual  bread is also: "the readings you hear each day in church, and the hymns you hear and sing. All these are necessities of our pilgrimage."  Catechism of the Catholic Church sec. 1389 (citing St. Augustine Sermo 57,7).

We all need spiritual food, and that  is a broad subject.  But in this post I am looking at the Eucharist alone.  What can  happen if a person turns away from it?  John 6:53 quoted and highlighted  below becomes a word of warning.  

The Sunday lectionary has just finished a series of Gospel readings in the Gospel of John chapter 6.  Yesterday at Mass in his homily  87 year old Fr. Berghammer mentioned something profound.  He reminded the congregation  that taking the body and blood of Jesus in the Eucharist is spiritual nourishment.  But that can only happen at Mass with the gathered assembly of believers, except that the sick may receive Jesus at home.  The point is that for almost all of us, we have to go to Mass to receive Jesus in the Eucharist.  Stop going to Mass and we stop receiving him.  (I'm not saying that the Eucharist is the only way to approach Jesus, or for him to approach us.)   Gradually over time people who stop going to Mass may lose their faith as a result.   Fr. Berghammer said that he has seen this many times over his long career.

I would never apply Father's thoughts on loss of faith  to any individual person whom I might know.  Judgments of this kind are up to God.   I have enough trouble dealing with my own pilgrimage.   How any of us come to faith is a great mystery.  The same can be said about how people lose their faith.
Last Supper - Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret 19th Century

People may say that  they have lost their faith because of this or that problem with the church, and that may be the case.  But here is another possibility for the origin of unbelief:    What really may have happened with this "former believer"  is that  he or she for no particular reason  stopped going to church.  That means that week after week the   person  was not receiving Jesus in the Eucharist.  The person was left to go through the grind of daily life  without the bread of life (Jn. 6:35), and after many months or years of this kind of neglect of the Eucharist  a total  loss of faith became  the end result.   The practical point here is not to speculate about the "lost faith"  of people we know, but to apply Fr. Berghammer's  idea to each one of us in a positive way.  If you make it to church and worthily receive his body and blood, you are not going down this dangerous path which can lead to a ruined spiritual life.   The bread of life keeps you on the right path, the narrow way leading to eternal life.

They say ideas have consequences.  The same goes for acts and omissions: "So Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you' ...." (Jn 6:53 RSV).

The sacrament alone does not prevent a person from falling away from God.  Anyone who has read 1 Cor. knows that. Yes,  there is more to the Christian life than the Eucharist.  There are the commandments, the tenets of our faith (the creed), the study of the hold Scriptures, and the duty to love God and our neighbor.  And we have the duty to confess our sins, daily and also in the sacrament of reconciliation, in order to take the Eucharist worthily. My only point here is that it is a dangerous thing to neglect the Eucharist.

John chapter 6 also speaks to anyone who wants to come back to the bread of life, after being away.  Jesus says, "he who comes to me I will not cast out"  (Jn. 6:37 RSV).

Great Worship Music

At taintedcanvas.com you will find these excellent "10 Worship Songs You Should Hear."

If I'm drifting a bit, as I have been in the last week, worship music helps me to re-center.  It is not a fix for what ails you, but St. Paul does recommend "psalms and ... spiritual songs"  (Eph 5:19).  Yes, I know that Paul is referring there to singing in the assembly of believers.  But as a supplement to (not a substitute for!)   corporate worship there is nothing wrong with  singing in the car to help bring back  a heart that might otherwise be subject to drifting.

 I like the Vineyard UK music.  I just bought this  tremendous 2006 album ("Hungry - Falling on My Knees")  on itunes.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Attitude Adjustment - Josef Pieper

Fish Creek, Wisconsin is a bustling place on the shores of Green Bay, Door County, Wisconsin.  August is peak tourist season, but at the end of the day, on a nice day,  things slow down a little and you see a procession of  people coming out of the stores and restaurants to walk down to the shore on the west end of town, to watch the sun go down.
Gathering at Fish Creek, on Green Bay,
Door County,  Wisconsin August 2012 
On this night last week a young guy played jazz standards on his trombone, and when he finished everyone gave him a nice hand.

This impromptu gathering brought to mind Josef Pieper's book, Leisure as a Basis for Culture     (Pantheon 1952 trans. Random House 1963, Ignatius Press 2009).  In that book Pieper describes leisure not as "time off work," but as a quiet and grateful attitude of the mind: "In  leisure man, too, celebrates the end of his work by allowing his inner eye to dwell for a while upon the reality of Creation.  He looks and he affirms: it is good.”   (p. 49)

The gathering to watch the sun go down  becomes what Pieper might call a "celebration"  for those who have the attitude to receive it.   What does Pieper mean by celebration?  As just quoted, we  celebrate by allowing the mind to "dwell for awhile" on these things which are not the product of work.  For Pieper celebration is the core of  leisure:   "The soul of leisure, it can be said, lies in 'celebration.' Celebration is the point at which the three elements of leisure come to a focus: relaxation, effortlessness, and superiority of 'active leisure' to all functions. But if celebration is the core of leisure, then leisure can only be made possible and justifiable on the same basis as the celebration of a festival. That basis is divine worship." (p. 65)

Now, you can't press Pieper's use of the word "worship" here too far, as if worship might have something to do with nature itself independent of God.  Pieper was an orthodox Christian believer with a solid  Catholic ideas on nature as God's creation.   But for Pieper it all has to start with this receptive and grateful attitude.  Leisure as a Basis for Culture is not easy reading, but any time spent in this book is well worth it, because Pieper  offers the reader (and our culture)  this reality which is outside the self.  Before I can benefit from reading the Gospels, I need this message which I have received from reading Pieper:  Life is not all about me.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Jesus' Power to Save

Tim coming out of the rough water - Garrett Bay, Door County, Wisconsin
 August, 2012  (I'm  the "speck" in the pic about to get hit with a whitecap)
Photo by Carrie Schuessler
Mark 4:41 Wind and Sea Obey Him

When I'm taking in the beauty of nature, my thoughts occasionally  turn to God. That happened  yesterday in Door County, swimming in the rough waters of Garrett Bay, when I thought of this verse:

And they were filled with awe, and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?"
Mark 4:41 (RSV)

The water in Garrett Bay (Lake Michigan) was shallow enough that we were not crazy to be swimming.  Tim (age 10)  and I were trying to get out to our usual destination spot which was a big rock about 50 yards from the shore, but we couldn't do it.  With gusts of over 40 knots we couldn't fight the wind and the waves.  I got knocked down into some sharp rocks and  banged up my knee a little bit.   Tim gave up after about 15 minutes, and I hung in there a little longer, but then I had to head in early as well.  It all reminded me of the storm out on the Sea of Galilee described in Mark 4.  Fighting the wind and the waves out in the boat, which was filling up with water (Mark 4:37) can't be compared to our misadventure trying to swim, of course.  The storm on the Sea of Galilee was life threatening, although Jesus was not alarmed.  (He was "asleep on the cushion"! Mark 4:38)   The disciples  were cold and they were afraid - and they were upset that Jesus was asleep.  And then to see Jesus wake up  and  rebuke the storm and stop it  right in front of their eyes had to be a shock.

The storm displays the power of nature. Jesus shows that he has power over nature.   The disciples  had seen the demons obey Jesus, and now they see the wind and the sea obey him.  But they did not just witness a "nature" miracle.  They were in trouble out on the water, and Jesus saved them.   Sometimes getting to know and understand the mercy and power of  Jesus is not about the study of doctrine, themes or teaching.  It is about placing yourself into a Gospel scene.  Here my own experience with the wind and the waves helped me to picture the sights and sounds of this demonstration of the saving power of God described in Mark chapter 4.  

In the Greek  - a Violent Furious Storm

Bible verses are like songs.  Today when I hear a song from my teen years I associate it with places and events  from those years.  There are passages from the NT that remind me of when and where I was when I first studied them closely.  Mark 4:41 is special to me because I learned it in the original  Greek when I was 21 and in college, taking a Greek class at University of Wisconsin - Madison.  It was a classical Greek class which means our texts came from classical Greek writers like Plato, not from the Bible.  But our teacher gave us a break one day and she helped us translate Mark 4:41 (quoted above) which in Greek  looked like this: καὶ ἐφοβήθησαν φόβον μέγαν, καὶ ἔλεγον πρὸς ἀλλήλους, Τίς ἄρα οὗτός ἐστιν ὅτι καὶ ὁ ἄνεμος καὶ ἡ θάλασσα ὑπακούει αὐτῷ.   (I realize that these words and this script will be meaningless to almost anyone who reads this.)  This became  the first  Bible verse that I learned from  the original Greek.

After taking this class in college I went out and bought some Greek study tools, a word study  book and an interlinear NT with the Greek, and stuck with it for awhile.  How did it help with Bible study?  Greek has many loaded words which convey meanings in the original that get watered down in translation.  A good example is right here in Mark chapter 4 where at verse 37 in the RSV  we have "a great storm of wind arose."  The adjective "great" (Greek megale) means "violent."   M.R. Vincent says that  "storm"  (Greek lailaps) means "furious storm" and is close to the word "hurricane."  If Vincent is right, it was a violent and furious storm.

Word Study 

I'm sorry to say that after three or four years,  with the "press of business" (work, family and distractions) I dropped the Greek.   But in recent months I have come back to it, mainly  for word study purposes,  and I am enjoying it greatly. I find that if I take a few extra minutes to look up a keyword from the verse in the original language, the message of the verse stays with me.  An excellent book for beginners is Learn New Testament Greek   (Baker 1993) by John H. Dobson.  For word study and to see the history of the use of a word  I use Word Studies in the New Testament (2012 reprint of 1886 publication)  by M.R. Vincent.  I also use this online resource from biblos.com which has a menu option for text analysis going word for word through the verse,  with Greek, Greek transliteration and English, and it includes a column from Strong's Concordance which explains the use of the word.

What if you want to get serious about this kind of language study?   For that we have colleges,  seminaries and theological schools.  I am not suggesting that people can do this on their own.

Tenth Avenue North - Strong Enough to Save You

My daughter, Carrie, who took the pic shown above, read this and directed me to the popular  song by Tenth Avenue North titled "Strong Enough to Save" which has these lyrics:  "The one the wind and waves obey is strong enough to save you."

Friday, August 10, 2012

Jesus in Ephraim

This week I have been in the beautiful little harbor town of Ephraim, Wisconsin, and that of course made me think of NT Ephraim, a place which was good to Jesus: "When a group of non-believers heard that Jesus brought a man (Lazarus) back to life, they plotted to kill Jesus. They apparently feared that Jesus was becoming too popular and that he might try to lead a rebellion against the Romans. Jesus then took refuge in the quiet town of Ephraim (John 11:54) near the wilderness and stayed there for a while with his disciples. John 11:1-57." http://www.about-jesus.org/town-of-ephraim.htm

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Gospel Events Become Present - Jewish Thought

This is the last of three short posts on the subject of remembrance (Greek anamnesis). Anamnesis “is not merely the recollection of past events but the proclamation of the mighty works wrought by God for men. In the liturgical celebration of these events, they become in a certain way present and real. This is how Israel understands its liberation from Egypt: every time Passover is celebrated, the Exodus events are made present to the memory of believers so that they may conform their lives to them” (Catechism of the Catholic Church,sec. 1363). Dave Armstrong has done a great job finding OT authority and Jewish sources which confirm that Jewish thought has this liturgical idea of making past events present and real. See http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2009/07/passover-in-judaism-past-events-become.html?m=1

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Present with Jesus - Anamnesis

Jesus said, "Do this in remembrance of me." David Bennett and Jonathan Bennett make these comments on remembrance: The Greek word for remembrance, anamnesis, does not imply simple psychological recollection. Enlightenment rationalistic assumptions have clouded many an interpretation of Jesus' words here. The word anamnesis, as it was often used in ancient times, means to bring the past into the present and the present into the past. In the Eucharist, we truly experience Christ's life, death, and resurrection, and Christ is made present to us, and we are made present to Him. This is far more dynamic than merely remembering something. See http://www.ancient-future.net/eucharist.html
 The Jewish celebration of Passover is precedent to defend this  description of the liturgical experience of anamnesis.

Anamnesis “is not merely the recollection of past events but the proclamation of the mighty works wrought by God for men. In the liturgical celebration of these events, they become in a certain way present and real. This is how Israel understands its liberation from Egypt: every time Passover is celebrated, the Exodus events are made present to the memory of believers so that they may conform their lives to them.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, sec. 1363. Dave Armstrong in this blog post has done a great job finding OT authority and Jewish sources which confirm that Jewish thought has this liturgical idea of making past events present and real.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Death and Resurrection of Jesus Proclaimed in the Eucharist

Fr. Stanley says that the "indivisible character of Jesus' death and resurrection is not easily grasped by our western, modern mentality." D.M. Stanley, A Modern Scriptural Approach to the Spiritual Exercises (Chicago 1967) at 251. In the Eucharistic liturgy "we proclaim of the death of Lord until he comes" 1 Cor 11:26. But it is a liturgical proclamation of the death of the "risen" Lord. The "indivisible unity of the death and resurrection of the Church's Lord ... made the kerygma good news." Stanley at 251. Scholars agree that the earliest pre-Gospel written accounts of Jesus were compositions to be proclaimed in the Eucharistic liturgy. The recital began with Jesus' words at the first such liturgy at the Last Supper. Stanley at 251. Then, in the first churches when the narratives of Jesus' death and resurrection "were proclaimed in the 'the breaking of the Bread,' they were believed to possess a reality far beyond that of historical recall of significant past events." Stanley at 150. Such a liturgical anamnesis was, in some mysterious way a real occurrence. Stanley at 150. The idea of anamnesis (remembering) comes from the"event-character" of Jewish feasts, especially that of the Passover. Next post I will say more about anamnesis.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Cardinal Lustiger - "I Was Born Jewish, and Jewish I'll Remain"

As I study the Gospels in context I want to learn more of all things Jewish. Jesus and the first believers were Jewish. The first believers saw their faith as the way to be better Jewish believers. Some years later there developed the tragic parting of ways between the Christian and Jewish communities. The late Archbishop Jean-Marie Lustiger whose mother died at Auschwitz never understood or accepted the parting of ways. The August 5 issue of The Jewish Daily Forward reports: When Pope John Paul II named him archbishop of Paris, an astonished Lustiger told a reporter: “I have always considered myself Jewish, even if the rabbis do not agree with me. I was born Jewish, and Jewish I’ll remain.” Indeed, during his funeral service at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, one of his relatives recited the Kaddish, while the leaders of France’s Jewish community —including the chief rabbi —prayed by the side of his coffin. See http://forward.com/articles/160341/frances-jewish-archbishop/

Bible Study

I am in beautiful Door County on Lake Michigan this week. I can't get to a computer. I can only post by texting on my phone. That means only short posts this week, probably with typos. Next week I have John chapter 2 to post on, and it has some tremendous themes in it. Today I'm posting a note of gratitude for three books which have been teaching me how to study the Bible: 1) Jesus and the Eyewitnesses by Richard Bauckham. The Bible is based on the eyewitness testimony of credible witnesses. That is exciting to me. 2) Jesus of Nazareth Vol 1 by Pope Benedict XVI. The fact that he is the Pope has nothing to do with what I am learning from this book. The Pope is a first rate scholar who is not afraid of the biblical sceptics. His defense of the Gospel of John, and his tips on how to read it, has been most helpful. 3) How Do Catholics Read the Bible? by Daniel J. Harrington S.J. In chapter 4 Fr. Harrington gives an actual example using Matthew 11:25-30 of how to analyze a text from a literary, historical and theological standpoint. I have been studying the Bible for over 35 years. I wish that I had been able to read a book like this 35 years ago.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Joanna and Jesus

Luke Chapter 8 

Who was Joanna?  Luke mentions her as one of those who were "with him" as he went about his work. This question raises a larger issue: What is the significance of "the women" in the life of Jesus and in the testimony of the early church?  To address this exciting subject I am looking at Luke chapter 8 and Acts chapter 1. Here is the reference in Luke's Gospel:

Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, preaching and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Mag'dalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joan'na, the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means. 
Luke 8:1-3 (RSV) 

Discussing Joanna in chapter 5 of his book, Gospel Women: Studies of the Named Women in the Gospels  (Eerdmans 2002)  Richard  Bauckham argues that Jesus  has two groups of close followers in the Gospel of Luke: the twelve and the women. 

Joanna  provided financial support for Jesus and the twelve.  Joanna was most likely from an elite Galilean Jewish family and married a Nabatean who held a very prominent position in Herod’s court.  See this book review  of  Gospel Women by Kenneth Litwak in   Review of Biblical Literature (Vol 6 2003).

Why do I find this exciting?  Because this is news to me.  I have never been taught that Jesus had two groups of close followers, the twelve and the women.  All we hear about is the twelve.  But this passage from Luke chapter 8 which ties the presence of the women to Jesus' "preaching and bringing the good news of the kingdom" is a powerful statement showing that Bauckham is right to say that "the women" are Jesus' second group of close followers.  One of the interesting  aspects of the Gospels is the prominent place of women in it.  Countless books and articles speak to this, and I cannot discuss that here.  For now I am reflecting on just this passage from Luke chapter 8, and below I connect this passage with Acts chapter 1. 

Picturing the two groups who were closest to Jesus in this way, the women and the twelve, helps me to understand one of the beautiful features of Jesus himself, which is that Jesus is a person who is open to all.  Women in general in  NT times received little respect.  Jesus reached out to women and brought them into his circle. The women assisted him, and they also became leaders of the early church, by virtue of what they knew and could testify to.  Those who were with Jesus from the beginning became the revered  witnesses of the faith. 

Acts Chapter 1 

Being part of this circle with Jesus from the beginning was what apostleship was all about.  Look at this from Acts chapter 1:

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day's journey away; and when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
Acts 1: 12-14 (RSV).

Here you see "in the upper room"  those who knew Jesus  from the beginning, the eleven, the women, the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

And in the next event after this upper room account Luke quotes Peter  speaking before about 120 people:

In those days Peter stood up among the brethren (the company of persons was in all about a hundred and twenty), and said,  " ... So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,  beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us -- one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection." 
Acts 1: 15, 21-22 (RSV).

Peter mentions that this replacement for Judas will be a man, which is no surprise, but more important is how this lines up with the previous three verses, Acts: 1:12-14 just quoted.  We see presence with Jesus from the beginning as the key element in both of these  scenes in Acts chapter 1.   In verses 12-14 Luke describes those who were with Jesus from the beginning, and then in verses 21-22 Peter, the leader of the church, refers to the same thing, presence with Jesus.  The replacement for Judas must be   "one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us ...."   Presence with Jesus is the qualification to become the replacement apostle.  (Yes, I know that this speech by Peter means that there actually were other candidates (close associates of Jesus)  besides the eleven and the women, but that would have to be for another post.)

As for Joanna, not only is she mentioned by name but Luke also identifies her husband and his position in Herod's court.  The reference to Herod's court is important, in part, because Joanna as the wife of a member of Herod's court  would have been able to provide testimony as to the important  facts involving Herod which we have in our NT.  Joanna had this  inside knowledge of Herod.  She was present with Jesus as described in Luke chapter 8.  Joanna was one of the most important early church witnesses.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Beautiful Marriage

I am taking a break from the  Bible study post today,  to honor the marriage of  Bridget Kelly and Eric Strauss.   What an amazing story of courage and romance which you can read about in this  New York Times article.

Congratulations, Bridget and Eric!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Eyewitness testimony - Transfiguration of Jesus

Have you ever wondered what Jesus, Moses and Elijah discussed as they were glorified on the mountain?  Luke has the answer.   Peter and John were witnesses, but they were asleep when Jesus was talking to Moses and Elijah (Luke 9:31-32).  They must have been dismayed that they missed this conversation.  But they testify with great joy as to what they did see and hear, as we see in 2 Pet.1:16-18 and Jn. 1:14. 

I love this these verses from St. Peter,  where he  testifies that he saw Jesus in his transfiguration, and heard the voice from heaven.

16] For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 
[17] For when he received honor and glory from God the Father and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,"
[18] we heard this voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 
2 Pet. 1:16-18 (RSV)

John was also an eyewitness with his brother, James, and it is likely that John refers to the transfiguration here:
[14] And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. 
Jn 1:14 (RSV). 

The word "dwelt" (Greek "eskenosen")  here means to "tabernacle" or pitch a tent,  and not only is this an amazing statement about God becoming man, but this word  also alludes to the transfiguration.  The transfiguration event  happened at the end of the Jewish feast of tabernacles,  which helps to explain  Peter's reaction as he witnessed the  event:   "'Let us make three booths' ...not knowing what he said" (Luke 9:33).

For more on this subject, see Pope Benedict XVI's book,  Jesus of Nazareth Vol. 1 (Ignatius Press 2007), beginning at page 305.   

Here is Luke's account:

[28] Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.
[29] And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white.
[30] And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Eli'jah,
[31] who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem.
[32] Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, and when they wakened they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.
[33] And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli'jah" -- not knowing what he said.
[34] As he said this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.
[35] And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!"
[36] And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silence and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen. 
Luke 9:28-36 (RSV)

Luke's account  raises many Bible study issues, which I won't discuss.   We have  1) reference to "the sayings" eight days earlier,  2) the three people who witnessed, but who fell asleep, 3) the law (Moses),  4) the prophets (Elijah), 5) the Jewish feast of tabernacles or booths  (v. 33 Peter's desire to make booths) which alludes to God's presence among his people which is here fulfilled with the glorification of Jesus, God's presence in the cloud and in his voice,  6) Jesus praying,  7)  the voice of the Father proclaiming the messianic message (where he says "my Chosen, listen to him"), 8) how Jesus would have been affected by hearing the voice of his Father as his mind was on his death and 9) Jesus alone and Moses and Elijah gone after the voice speaks.  

Here I only want to stop and reflect on the question raised at the beginning of this post. What did these three talk about?  Luke gives the answer in verses 30-31:  "And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem."  Only Luke gives us this detail, that "they spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem."  The subject matter of the conversation is the death of Jesus.   Jesus is God's chosen one, but to accomplish his mission he must die.  They understand the majestic plan of God to redeem the world through the people of Israel, and now about to be fulfilled in this man of Israel who is  "my Son, my Chosen."   The three of them, but mainly  Jesus, had to be greatly disturbed that the Messiah would have to suffer and die.  If this plan of God was upsetting to Jesus as he faced it in the garden of Gethsemane (to the point of sweating blood),  he likely had the same kind of sorrow as he spoke with Moses and Elijah about it. But I also imagine that here he gains strength from the interaction - this conversation -  with these two holy men who in their time also had been chosen by the Father. 

How did Luke through the witnesses  or those who were in touch with the witnesses find out about this conversation, and the fact that Jesus, Moses and Elijah discussed Jesus' passion ("departure, which  he was to accomplish at Jerusalem")?   The witnesses were asleep during the conversation (Luke 9:32).  The only possible  answer is that after the transfiguration event  Jesus must have told one or more of these three witnesses or perhaps others, that during this time on the mountain  he had spoken to Moses and Elijah about his death.

Next time I look at 2 Pet. 1:16-18 or Jn 1:14 which are quoted above,  I will have this transfiguration scene in mind.  This is a great mystery worth pondering, to picture the whole story of Israel,  and the glory of  God's Chosen one,  as represented by these three up on the mountain.