Friday, 1 May 2015

Johanna Rákos-Zichy: Augustine on the Resurrection Body

Augustine's views on the resurrection of the body kept changing. Influenced by Origen, he envisioned the resurrected body in a spiritual form in his early writings. Later, however, he came to accept the view that the resurrection body is a physical body representing the perfect form of a human being. This paper focuses on the context of Augustine's writings on the resurrection body and the ways he made this high theological problem accessible to his audience. The bishop of Hippo insisted on the beauty and perfection of the resurrection body, This analysis aims to reveal how Augustine's coevals, Christians and "pagans" understood and coped with the idea of the resurrection of the body in Late Ancient Christianity, including the problem of the "dead body" in general. Augustine held that ad sanctos burial was not conducive to bodily resurrection and salvation. This issue became increasingly important for Augustine after 410, when the threat of the barbarian invasions made everyday life highly precarious. It is at this point that Augustine started emphasize the benefits of the resurrection as a consolation for the living, who worried about the salvation of the departed ones. The description of perfect nature of the resurrected body reveals the kind of the misfortunes and imperfections that Augustine imagined to be eliminated in the final resurrection, and mirrors the way Christians in Augustine's time viewed their body.

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