Sunday, February 03, 2008

theology of beauty - where????

in addition to wanting to know why we'd do a series like this, some have wanted to know, charmingly, 'where all this crap is in the bible'


for starters...

Here is a skeleton outline of beauty in scripture:

• God creates and it is good, Genesis 1-2
• God creates Adam as a co-creator, Genesis 1-2
• God invites Adam to create (in naming the animals), Genesis 2
• God instructs the people to build the temple and make it beautiful, Exodus 24-28
• God inspires Bezalel and Oholiab to be excellent craftsman and skilled in making things beautiful, Exodus 31
• God uses Esther’s beauty for His own purposes, Esther 1-10
• God, through the author, beautifully describes love in Song of Solomon, Song of Solomon 1-8
• The Prophet Jeremiah beautifully describes pain in Lamentations, Lamentations 1-4
• Jesus speaks one of the most beautiful oratories ever transcribed in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7
• The Transfiguration of Jesus into His glorified (hence beautiful) self, Matthew 17
• Jesus’ Passion is considered an act of beauty-in-suffering, John 19
• Paul describes the ancient Hebrew understanding of beauty in Philippians 4.8
• John witnesses the beauty and splendor of Heaven, Revelation 21-22

In addition, we might make mention of the following inherent beauty in scripture:

• the beauty of poetic language in the prophets
• the beauty of prophetic discourse in provoking people to live differently
• the beauty of St. John’s imaginative descriptions of Heaven and the End of Days

Also, we might make special mention of the fact that there was no special language in Hebrew for art and beauty, precisely because beauty was understood to be an interconnected component of every aspect of life. So, a fuller examination of the following terms may yield a greater appreciation for beauty as understood in the First Testament:

• tsebi, meaning beauty and honor
• hadar, meaning to glorify and to honor
• pa’ar, meaning to crown or to beautify
• hamad, meaning to delight in
• yafah, meaning to be fair or beautiful
• na’ah, meaning to be physically attractive
• na’em, meaning to be pleasant or lovely

And in the Second Testament:

• prosphiles, meaning pleasing or lovely
• kalos, meaning good

We should mention that no one ought to make too much of the fact that there are seven words for beauty in the First Testament (and many more appearances of those terms) while only two in the Second (and far less appearances); for any biblical scholar understands that the Second Testament authors would have felt no need to repeat every single good thing with which they still agreed from the holy texts of the Hebrew people just to prove a point.

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