Transfiguration of the Lord: iconography and the meaning of the holiday
Authors: Nikolay N. Lisovoy
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This article was first published in a small-circulation collection edited by the
researcher of the Orthodox hesychasm, the creator of the concept of synergistic anthropology S.S. Horuzhy (1941–2020), the news of whose sudden
death came on September 22, 2020, when these lines were written. With him
N.N. Lisovoy communicated, although the views of these two scientists, who
were educated as physicists, but who deeply studied the Orthodox hesychast
tradition, did not always coincide. In July 2018, during one of my visits to
Nikolai Nikolaevich to receive communion at home, I asked him to give something for publication in the journal "Christianity in the Middle East" from what
I had written earlier. He handed over a photocopy of this article, apologizing
that the work written in the "pre-computer era" is not available in electronic
form. He believed that this work of his is relevant for the modern Orthodox
reader, but in fact is inaccessible to him.
As an Orthodox theologian N.N. Lisovoy is little known, although he can be
called one of the brightest theologians of the last quarter of the 20th century, which is proved by the publication offered below. As he himself believed,
as an Orthodox thinker, he developed thanks to his work in the Publishing
Department of the Moscow Patriarchate, where he worked freelance since
1969 under the leadership of Metropolitan Pitirim of Volokolamsk and Yuryevsk. Few people know that N.N. Lisovoy is the author of a significant part
of articles from the "green" Menaion, published by the Publishing Council of
the Moscow Patriarchate in the 1970s-1980s. These articles were dedicated
to great holidays, the memory of icons of the Mother of God and saints. He
also prepared for publication in Germany a review of the history of Russian
theological science, which was published only in 2002 in one of the volumes
of Theological Works. In 1998, the TV program "Orthodox Calendar", dedicated to the Transfiguration. In 2003 he became the author of a film about this holiday in the series
"Resurrection" of the "Volga-Film" studio (Samara).
The theme of light-like energies ascending to God, the invisible light that
revealed itself to the saints and ascetics, especially worried N.N. Lisovoy. He
especially drew attention to this topic in his works (printed and on television)
about St. Sergius of Radonezh, Seraphim of Sarov and St. John of Kronstadt. It
is no coincidence that he lists the names of all three in the published article.
For Nikolai Nikolayevich, the experience of the Transfiguration was not something distant; he revealed the experience of communion with Russian saints.
And he himself, as a man of deep spiritual life, a poet, a prayer man and an
ascetic of church science, we believe, spoke of the vision of divine light-like
energies not only speculatively, but also experimentally.