The Beauty of the Body and the Ascension


Laura Cerbus, "The Beauty of the Body and the Ascension: A Reclamation and Subversion of Physical Beauty," Scottish Journal of Theology Published online (2024):1-11.


Cerbus, Laura. "The Beauty of the Body and the Ascension: A Reclamation and Subversion of Physical Beauty." Scottish Journal of Theology. Published online (2024):1-11

Publication life cycle / General notes

Engages T. F. Torrance, Space, Time, and Resurrection, and numerous authors.

"T. F. Torrance argues that the resurrection and ascension together have an eschatological reference, but it is the ascension which best makes sense of the present time in which Christ’s reign is not complete. He describes it as both ‘an eschatological pause in the one Parousia of Christ’, as well as the event that determines the church’s relationship to Christ. It is these characteristics that make the ascended Christ the best image for resisting the abuse of beauty. In the ascension’s eschatological character, it orients us, and beauty, towards the future, and in its ‘eschatological pause’, it resists any triumphalism that would obscure the cross as the pattern of our lives. These possibilities, I will argue, are grounded in an affirmation of the bodily ascension of Christ, how- ever difficult such an affirmation has become in a post-Copernican world."


In the last century, beauty has not often found itself enlisted in struggles for justice. As Alexander Nehemas recounts, beauty's severance from goodness and truth in the modern period renders beauty dangerous, its charm easily wielded as an instrument of oppression in the hands of the powerful. While some scholars have argued for a return to the pre-modern metaphysics that binds beauty to truth and goodness, the abuse of beauty is not simply a modern phenomenon, and its resistance requires more than a pre-modern solution. Beauty is eschatological; thus its abuse points to a failure to order it properly to its eschatological end. This article will argue that the abuse of beauty can be resisted not by spiritualising beauty, but by ordering physical beauty to its eschatological end. This end is most clearly seen in the ascended Christ, with his beautiful body that is human, wounded and hidden.

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