... the appearance of his face became altered, and his garment white -- sparkling. [Young's Literal - Luke 9:29]

και εγενετο εν τω προσευχεσθαι αυτον το ειδος του προσωπου αυτου ετερον και ο ιματισμος αυτου λευκος εξαστραπτων [TR, undisputed - Luke 9:29]

... as he prayed the appearance of the face of him altered and the clothing of him white effulgent [EGNT - Luke 9:29]

When I look at the literal translation of this verse (taken largely from the Englishman's Greek New Testament interlinear but with the possessive pronouns fully expressed as the original pronouns) it occurs to me that the wording could be represented as ...

... the appearance of the face of him altered (and the clothing of him) white effulgent.

And it also occurs to me that to merely state of the face 'altered' (without further explanation) seems somewhat incongruous when the new state of the clothing is more demonstrably described.

Would not the attention focus on the features - first - and the clothing - second ?

So my question is, does the original Greek of Luke's text lend evidence to the face of Jesus being 'white effulgent' ?

2 Answers 2


The OP's suggestion is astute because most versions in Luke 9:29 translate the adjective ἕτερον (changed/altered) as thought it were a verb, "was changed".

If we leave the adjective as is, then we might get a result closer to the OP's suggestion, something like:

And it happened in [during] His praying, the altered appearance of Him and the white clothing of Him became dazzling.

This is because the only verb in the second part of the sentence, ἐξαστράπτων (became dazzling) clearly has its subject both εἶδος (appearance) and ἱματισμὸς (clothing).

However, in the Greek, a verb is occasionally implied and this appears to be the view of most translators who insert and implied verb and create another clause and so translate something like:

And it happened [during] the praying of Him, (a) the appearance of His face was changed, and (b) His clothing became dazzling white

I presume that this on the basis of the parallel accounts in Matthew which says (my translation):

Matt 17:2 - And He was transfigured before them and (a) His face shone like the sun, and (b) His clothes became white as the light

Mark does not mention Jesus' face.


Was the transfigured face of Jesus 'white effulgent'?

Probably yes.

Exodus 34:

29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.

Moses' face was radiant as well.

Does the original Greek of Luke's text lend evidence to the face of Jesus being 'white effulgent' ?

Not exactly.

προσώπου (prosōpou)
Noun - Genitive Neuter Singular

ἱματισμὸς (himatismos)
Noun - Nominative Masculine Singular

became radiantly
ἐξαστράπτων (exastraptōn)
Verb - Present Participle Active - Nominative Masculine Singular

λευκὸς (leukos)
Adjective - Nominative Masculine Singular

"face" is neuter; "white" is masculine matching "clothes".

In terms of translation, it is not proper to translate it as "his face was white". In terms of interpretation, it could be done with a bit of stretch. In any case, the witnesses' focus was on the larger area of Jesus' clothing's white effulgent. They might not be able to see much of the details of Jesus' face at that moment.

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