Mark 9:2-4 says, "And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and
leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before
them. And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can
white them. And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with
But in Mormon theology, Peter, James and John were also
Joseph Smith taught, "The Priesthood is everlasting.
The Savior, Moses, and Elias, gave the keys
to Peter, James, and John, on the mount when they were transfigured before him" (History of the
Church, volume 3). This is repeated several times in the official magazine
of the LDS Church (Ensign,
November 1994, "The Keys That Never Rust", Ensign, October 1973,
"I Have A Question", Ensign,
December 1996, "The Restoration of the Aaronic and Melchizedek
Who else was present with Jesus at his transfiguration besides
those three disciples?
The King James version, in Mark 9:4-5, says "And there appeared unto them Elias
with Moses: and
they were talking with Jesus. And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to
be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for
According to the April 1983 Ensign magazine, "In the Prophet’s inspired translation
record, we learn that John the Baptist was also present on the Mount of Transfiguration.
Mark 9:3 reads: “And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses, or in other words, John
the Baptist and Moses; and they were talking with Jesus".
When you look at the LDS Bible Dictionary for Elias (online,
local copy), it says,
"The curious wording
of JST Mark 9:3 does not imply that the Elias at the Transfiguration was John the Baptist, but
that in addition to Elijah the prophet, John the Baptist was present".
But that is exactly what the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST) is implying.
He implies that
Elias is John the Baptist.
So, did Peter offer to make the three tabernacles for Jesus + Elijah + Moses
Jesus + John the
Baptist + Moses, leaving Elijah without a tabernacle?
We find several examples of transfiguration events in modern LDS
According to the December 2008 Liahona, "The power of God rested upon him [Joseph
to such a degree that on many occasions he seemed transfigured. The glory of his countenance
was beyond description" (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 2008, p. 502).
According to Chapter 23 of the Church History In The Fulness Of Times Student Manual,
Brigham Young was transfigured to look and sound like Joseph Smith (pp. 286, 291).
Do we find other transfigurations mentioned in the LDS scriptures or Bible?
Was Stephen transfigured? "And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his
face as it had been the face of an angel" (Acts 6:15). No mention of a transfiguration. His face is
not recorded as shining as the sun. There was no change in brightness of his raiment. The change of
his countenance occurs before he is reported to have seen the Father and Son in
Acts 7:55. The LDS
manual "New Testament - Gospel Doctrine Teacher's Manual" does not indicate a transfiguration.
Was Moses transfigured? According to Exodus 34:29-36, his face was shining after he
had met with
God. He had to veil his face because the Jews were afraid to come near him. As time passed on, this
shining began to disappear. We don't see his shining face near the end of Moses's life in the Old
Testament. The New Testament alludes to this disappearing glory in 2 Corinthians 2:13. Similar to
Stephen, no mention of a transfiguration. His face is not said to have shone like the sun. No
brightness of his raiment is recorded either. The LDS manual "Old Testament - Gospel
Teacher's Manual" does not indicate a transfiguration.
The Book of Mormon, in Helaman 5:36, speaks of a transfiguration event.
"And it came to pass that
he turned him about, and behold, he saw through the cloud of darkness the faces of Nephi and
Lehi; and behold, they did shine exceedingly, even as the faces of
angels". Did they shine as the
force of the sun? Not that I can see. Transfigured? The LDS manual "Book of Mormon - Gospel
Doctrine Teacher's Manual" does not indicate a transfiguration.
The Book of Mormon, in 3 Nephi 19:25, has several people shining but is this a transfiguration event
when this is due to the light of his countenance shining upon them? Its possible,
but the same LDS
manual does not indicate a transfiguration.
The Book of Mormon, in 3 Nephi 28:15, mentions a transfiguration of the 3 disciples -
they were in the body or out of the body, they could not tell; for it did seem unto
them like a
transfiguration of them, that they were changed from this body of flesh into an immortal state,
that they could behold the things of God". I can say this is a transfiguration for it is mentioned.
The Pearl of Great Price, in the introduction notes to Moses chapter 1, has this
heading - "God
reveals himself to Moses—Moses transfigured". This alludes to verse 11 -
"but his glory was
upon me; and I beheld his face, for I was transfigured before him". It records the event.
In the supposed vision of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ to Joseph Smith,
there was no mention of
a transfiguration of Joseph. He did write "I saw a pillar of light exactly
over my head, above the
brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me" but no mention of his
transfiguration - nothing about his face, hands, or raiments changed, nor is there a record of a change
from a mortal to immortal state. When he appeared to his mother later on, no unusual glow about him
was noticed either (History, 1:20).
In the Doctrine and Covenants, there is a record of angelic beings and even the
Son appearing to one
or more of the Mormon apostles - but no mention of a transfiguration event are recorded there either.
Also, no transfiguration event is recorded when Moroni is said to have visited Joseph several times.
Supposedly, if we are not careful, someone can come along and teach that the trees and
also transfigured so they could behold Christ's glory.
I did find that when a person was actually transfigured, the record uses the word
this is not recorded to have happened to Peter, James, John, or the LDS apostles (in the LDS canon).
But we need to more closely examine the LDS teachings about certain people being transfigured (in
the cases of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John the Baptist, Peter, James and John).
Are these authoritative teachings or are they all just speculation?