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This transfiguration, like the original transfiguration of Christ (Matt 17:1-8) and indeed of Moses (Exodus 34:29-35), is a transfiguration of the body. Christianity from the earliest days taught the resurrection of the body and this was one of the aspects that the classical culture of the pre-Christian Empire found hardest to accept. Platonism had envisaged the possibility of eternal life but it saw this as a purely incorporeal, 'spiritual' affair. We might think Christianity would have had an easier time of it if they had dropped this refusal to separate soul and body. It is highly significant that they didn't.

The Reformation did not formally reject the doctrine of the resurrection of the body but one feels they were uncomfortable with it, and they did reject the complementary practise of the veneration of relics. The veneration of parts of the bodies or clothing of the saints goes back to the very early days of Christianity, well before the conversion of Constantine. It was early established that the presence of such a relic was necessary before a church could be consecrated. To the disgust of mainstream Mediterranean opinion, 'the Christian cult of saints rapidly came to involve the digging up, the moving, the dismemberment - quite apart from much avid touching and kissing - of the bones of the dead, and, frequently, the placing of these in areas from which the dead had once been excluded.' - Peter Brown, The Cult of the Saints, p.4. Brown calls it a 'breaching of the established map of the universe' and continues:

'the impact of the cult of saints on the topography of the Roman city was unambiguous: it gave greater prominence to areas that had been treated as antithetical to the public life of the living city; by the end of the period, the immemorial boundary between the city of the living and the dead came to be breached by the entry of relics and their housing within the walls of many late-antique towns, and the clustering of ordinary graves around them.'

Where, for example, Plotinus taught that matter was the product of a process of degeneration and thus contained within itself the potential for evil, the Christians taught that matter itself shared in the capacity to transcend the normal laws of nature and the limitations of space and time and was therefore able to enter into eternal life, indeed to participate, here and now, in eternity. Most spectacularly of course this could be seen in communion, the transformation of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ (a doctrine that perhaps may seem less outrageous if we remember that ordinary bread and wine when eaten and drunk is transformed, by a process that, like so much that is 'natural', is nonetheless very wonderful, into our own body and blood).