Bodily Resurrection in Catholic Perspectives

By Prusak, Bernard P. | Theological Studies, March 2000 | Go to article overview

Bodily Resurrection in Catholic Perspectives


Prusak, Bernard P., Theological Studies


THE MEANING OF BODILY RESURRECTION has perennially been a matter of theological discussion. Responding to the Cathars and their negative view of the body, the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 asserted that "all will rise with their own bodies, which they now wear."(1) In his Summa theologiae, Thomas Aquinas maintained that, after the Resurrection of Christ, the same body, for which his soul had been the form before his death, was again united with his soul: "And because the truth of the nature of the body is from the form [i.e. the soul], it follows that the body of Christ after the Resurrection would be a real (verum) body, and of the same nature as before."(2) According to Aquinas, the body of the risen Christ was "integral" (and therefore included flesh, bones, blood, etc.) and of the same nature as before death, although it was now glorified, incorruptible, and no longer subject to death.(3) Aquinas also considered it appropriate that the body, which the soul of Christ again took on in the Resurrection, had the wounds suffered in the passion.(4) Although it was now "spiritual," that body was real and solid, could be touched and seen, and was able to eat and drink.(5)

Aquinas had earlier articulated his philosophical reflections on the relationship of the bodily and spiritual dimensions of a human being. In his Summa contra gentiles, he argued that "intellectual substances [such as the human soul] are not composed of matter and form; rather, in them the form itself is a subsisting substance; so that form here is that which is and being itself is act and that by which the substance is."(6) That set the stage for his foundational proposition that "it is through the soul that the body becomes a being in act ... for living is the being of the living thing.... Therefore, the soul is the form of the animated body." Aquinas added that "we live and sense by the soul as the principle of life and sensation. The soul is, therefore, the form of the body."(7)

Aquinas's philosophical insights about the human "person" as the profound and enduring unity of a spirit with the body that it informs and actualizes remain influential. That is not the case for his more literal interpretations of bodily resurrection, especially reflected in the excerpts from the Commentary on the Sentences (1254-56) posthumously selected to form the Supplement to the Summa theologiae (1265-72). In those passages, which represent Aquinas's earliest thought, before he had composed the Summa contra gentiles about 1260 or his commentaries on the works of Aristotle in 1261, he proposed that "all the members that were part of the human body before death" will rise in the resurrection, even the hairs and nails, the bodily fluids or humors, and that "materiality" that is necessary for the identity of the human species.(8) He considered it fitting that risen bodies be youthful (and thus not affected by the limitations and defects of childhood and old age), that they rise with the differing statures they would have had at that more perfect age, and that they be male and female, but without any libido.(9) Aquinas also discussed the "impassibility" of such bodies, and whether their senses would be active.(10) Having speculated about the manner in which the "subtlety" of glorified bodies would affect the way they occupied space, he further considered the palpability and agility of such bodies, and maintained that a glorified soul has the power to allow the transformed, glorified body either to be seen or not to be seen by non-glorified eyes.(11)

Karl Rahner has noted that contemporary physics is teaching us more than ever to think abstractly, which means "there will be less of an obstacle ... to our taking the existence of those in heaven very seriously in a non-pictorial way."(12) Speaking about quantum theory, Niels Bohr said that it "forces us to adopt a new mode of description designated as complementary in the sense that any given application of classical concepts precludes the simultaneous use of other classical concepts which in a different connection are equally necessary for the elucidation of phenomena. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Bodily Resurrection in Catholic Perspectives
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.