QUESTION 54: OF THE QUALITY OF CHRIST RISING AGAIN
We have now to consider the quality of the rising Christ, which presents
four points of inquiry:
(1) Whether Christ had a true body after His Resurrection?
(2) Whether He rose with His complete body?
(3) Whether His was a glorified body?
(4) Of the scars which showed in His body.
Article 1: Whether Christ had a true body after His Resurrection?
Objection 1: It would seem that Christ did not have a true body after His
Resurrection. For a true body cannot be in the same place at the same
time with another body. But after the Resurrection Christ's body was with
another at the same time in the same place: since He entered among the
disciples "the doors being shut," as is related in Jn. 20:26. Therefore
it seems that Christ did not have a true body after His Resurrection.
Objection 2: Further, a true body does not vanish from the beholder's sight
unless perchance it be corrupted. But Christ's body "vanished out of the
sight" of the disciples as they gazed upon Him, as is related in Lk.
24:31. Therefore, it seems that Christ did not have a true body after His
Objection 3: Further, every true body has its determinate shape. But Christ's
body appeared before the disciples "in another shape," as is evident from
Mk. 15:12. Therefore it seems that Christ did not possess a true body
after His Resurrection.
On the contrary, It is written (Lk. 24:37) that when Christ appeared to
His disciples "they being troubled and frightened, supposed that they saw
a spirit," as if He had not a true but an imaginary body: but to remove
their fears He presently added: "Handle and see, for a spirit hath not
flesh and bones, as you see Me to have." Consequently, He had not an
imaginary but a true body.
I answer that, As Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iv): that is said to
rise, which fell. But Christ's body fell by death; namely, inasmuch as
the soul which was its formal perfection was separated from it. Hence, in
order for it to be a true resurrection, it was necessary for the same
body of Christ to be once more united with the same soul. And since the
truth of the body's nature is from its form it follows that Christ's body
after His Resurrection was a true body, and of the same nature as it was
before. But had His been an imaginary body, then His Resurrection would
not have been true, but apparent.
Reply to Objection 1: Christ's body after His Resurrection, not by miracle but
from its glorified condition, as some say, entered in among the disciples
while the doors were shut, thus existing with another body in the same
place. But whether a glorified body can have this from some hidden
property, so as to be with another body at the same time in the same
place, will be discussed later (XP, Question , Article ) when the common
resurrection will be dealt with. For the present let it suffice to say
that it was not from any property within the body, but by virtue of the
Godhead united to it, that this body, although a true one, entered in
among the disciples while the doors were shut. Accordingly Augustine says
in a sermon for Easter (ccxlvii) that some men argue in this fashion: "If
it were a body; if what rose from the sepulchre were what hung upon the
tree, how could it enter through closed doors?" And he answers: "If you
understand how, it is no miracle: where reason fails, faith abounds."
And (Tract. cxxi super Joan.) he says: "Closed doors were no obstacle to
the substance of a Body wherein was the Godhead; for truly He could enter
in by doors not open, in whose Birth His Mother's virginity remained
inviolate." And Gregory says the same in a homily for the octave of
Easter (xxvi in Evang.).
Reply to Objection 2: As stated above (Question , Article ), Christ rose to the immortal
life of glory. But such is the disposition of a glorified body that it is
spiritual, i.e. subject to the spirit, as the Apostle says (1 Cor. 15:44). Now in order for the body to be entirely subject to the spirit,
it is necessary for the body's every action to be subject to the will of
the spirit. Again, that an object be seen is due to the action of the
visible object upon the sight, as the Philosopher shows (De Anima ii).
Consequently, whoever has a glorified body has it in his power to be seen
when he so wishes, and not to be seen when he does not wish it. Moreover
Christ had this not only from the condition of His glorified body, but
also from the power of His Godhead, by which power it may happen that
even bodies not glorified are miraculously unseen: as was by a miracle
bestowed on the blessed Bartholomew, that "if he wished he could be seen,
and not be seen if he did not wish it" [*Apocryphal Historia Apost. viii,
2]. Christ, then, is said to have vanished from the eyes of the
disciples, not as though He were corrupted or dissolved into invisible
elements; but because He ceased, of His own will, to be seen by them,
either while He was present or while He was departing by the gift of
Reply to Objection 3: As Severianus [*Peter Chrysologus: Serm. lxxxii] says in a
sermon for Easter: "Let no one suppose that Christ changed His features
at the Resurrection." This is to be understood of the outline of His
members; since there was nothing out of keeping or deformed in the body
of Christ which was conceived of the Holy Ghost, that had to be righted
at the Resurrection. Nevertheless He received the glory of clarity in the
Resurrection: accordingly the same writer adds: "but the semblance is
changed, when, ceasing to be mortal, it becomes immortal; so that it
acquired the glory of countenance, without losing the substance of the
countenance." Yet He did not come to those disciples in glorified
appearance; but, as it lay in His power for His body to be seen or not,
so it was within His power to present to the eyes of the beholders His
form either glorified or not glorified, or partly glorified and partly
not, or in any fashion whatsoever. Still it requires but a slight
difference for anyone to seem to appear another shape.
Article 2: Whether Christ's body rose glorified?
Objection 1: It seems that Christ's body did not rise glorified. For glorified
bodies shine, according to Mt. 13:43: "Then shall the just shine as the
sun in the kingdom of their Father." But shining bodies are seen under
the aspect of light, but not of color. Therefore, since Christ's body was
beheld under the aspect of color, as it had been hitherto, it seems that
it was not a glorified one.
Objection 2: Further, a glorified body is incorruptible. But Christ's body
seems not to have been incorruptible; because it was palpable, as He
Himself says in Lk. 24:39: "Handle, and see." Now Gregory says (Hom. in
Evang. xxvi) that "what is handled must be corruptible, and that which is
incorruptible cannot be handled." Consequently, Christ's body was not
Objection 3: Further, a glorified body is not animal, but spiritual, as is
clear from 1 Cor. 15. But after the Resurrection Christ's body seems to
have been animal, since He ate and drank with His disciples, as we read
in the closing chapters of Luke and John. Therefore, it seems that
Christ's body was not glorified.
On the contrary, The Apostle says (Phil. 3:21): "He will reform the body
of our lowness, made like to the body of His glory."
I answer that, Christ's was a glorified body in His Resurrection, and
this is evident from three reasons. First of all, because His
Resurrection was the exemplar and the cause of ours, as is stated in 1
Cor. 15:43. But in the resurrection the saints will have glorified
bodies, as is written in the same place: "It is sown in dishonor, it
shall rise in glory." Hence, since the cause is mightier than the effect,
and the exemplar than the exemplate; much more glorious, then, was the
body of Christ in His Resurrection. Secondly, because He merited the
glory of His Resurrection by the lowliness of His Passion. Hence He said
(Jn. 12:27): "Now is My soul troubled," which refers to the Passion; and
later He adds: "Father, glorify Thy name," whereby He asks for the glory
of the Resurrection. Thirdly, because as stated above (Question , Article ),
Christ's soul was glorified from the instant of His conception by perfect
fruition of the Godhead. But, as stated above (Question , Article , ad 2), it was
owing to the Divine economy that the glory did not pass from His soul to
His body, in order that by the Passion He might accomplish the mystery of
our redemption. Consequently, when this mystery of Christ's Passion and
death was finished, straightway the soul communicated its glory to the
risen body in the Resurrection; and so that body was made glorious.
Reply to Objection 1: Whatever is received within a subject is received according
to the subject's capacity. Therefore, since glory flows from the soul
into the body, it follows that, as Augustine says (Ep. ad Dioscor.
cxviii), the brightness or splendor of a glorified body is after the
manner of natural color in the human body; just as variously colored
glass derives its splendor from the sun's radiance, according to the mode
of the color. But as it lies within the power of a glorified man whether
his body be seen or not, as stated above (Article , ad 2), so is it in his
power whether its splendor be seen or not. Accordingly it can be seen in
its color without its brightness. And it was in this way that Christ's
body appeared to the disciples after the Resurrection.
Reply to Objection 2: We say that a body can be handled not only because of its
resistance, but also on account of its density. But from rarity and
density follow weight and lightness, heat and cold, and similar
contraries, which are the principles of corruption in elementary bodies.
Consequently, a body that can be handled by human touch is naturally
corruptible. But if there be a body that resists touch, and yet is not
disposed according to the qualities mentioned, which are the proper
objects of human touch, such as a heavenly body, then such body cannot be
said to be handled. But Christ's body after the Resurrection was truly
made up of elements, and had tangible qualities such as the nature of a
human body requires, and therefore it could naturally be handled; and if
it had nothing beyond the nature of a human body, it would likewise be
corruptible. But it had something else which made it incorruptible, and
this was not the nature of a heavenly body, as some maintain, and into
which we shall make fuller inquiry later (XP, Question , Article ), but it was
glory flowing from a beatified soul: because, as Augustine says (Ep. ad
Dioscor. cxviii): "God made the soul of such powerful nature, that from
its fullest beatitude the fulness of health overflows into the body, that
is, the vigor of incorruption." And therefore Gregory says (Hom. in
Evang. xxvi): "Christ's body is shown to be of the same nature, but of
different glory, after the Resurrection."
Reply to Objection 3: As Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xiii): "After the
Resurrection, our Saviour in spiritual but true flesh partook of meat
with the disciples, not from need of food, but because it lay in His
power." For as Bede says on Lk. 24:41: "The thirsty earth sucks in the
water, and the sun's burning ray absorbs it; the former from need, the
latter by its power." Hence after the Resurrection He ate, "not as
needing food, but in order thus to show the nature of His risen body."
Nor does it follow that His was an animal body that stands in need of
Article 3: Whether Christ's body rose again entire?
Objection 1: It would seem that Christ's body did not rise entire. For flesh
and blood belong to the integrity of the body: whereas Christ seems not
to have had both, for it is written (1 Cor. 15:50): "Flesh and blood can
not possess the kingdom of God." But Christ rose in the glory of the
kingdom of God. Therefore it seems that He did not have flesh and blood.
Objection 2: Further, blood is one of the four humors. Consequently, if Christ
had blood, with equal reason He also had the other humors, from which
corruption is caused in animal bodies. It would follow, then, that
Christ's body was corruptible, which is unseemly. Therefore Christ did
not have flesh and blood.
Objection 3: Further, the body of Christ which rose, ascended to heaven. But
some of His blood is kept as relics in various churches. Therefore
Christ's body did not rise with the integrity of all its parts.
On the contrary, our Lord said (Lk. 24:39) while addressing His
disciples after the Resurrection: "A spirit hath not flesh and bones as
you see Me to have."
I answer that, As stated above (Article ), Christ's body in the Resurrection
was "of the same nature, but differed in glory." Accordingly, whatever
goes with the nature of a human body, was entirely in the body of Christ
when He rose again. Now it is clear that flesh, bones, blood, and other
such things, are of the very nature of the human body. Consequently, all
these things were in Christ's body when He rose again; and this also
integrally, without any diminution; otherwise it would not have been a
complete resurrection, if whatever was lost by death had not been
restored. Hence our Lord assured His faithful ones by saying (Mt. 10:30):
"The very hairs of your head are all numbered": and (Lk. 21:18): "A hair
of your head shall not perish."
But to say that Christ's body had neither flesh, nor bones, nor the
other natural parts of a human body, belongs to the error of Eutyches,
Bishop of Constantinople, who maintained that "our body in that glory of
the resurrection will be impalpable, and more subtle than wind and air:
and that our Lord, after the hearts of the disciples who handled Him were
confirmed, brought back to subtlety whatever could be handled in Him"
[*St. Gregory, Moral. in Job 14:56]. Now Gregory condemns this in the
same book, because Christ's body was not changed after the Resurrection,
according to Rm. 6:9: "Christ rising from the dead, dieth now no more."
Accordingly, the very man who had said these things, himself retracted
them at his death. For, if it be unbecoming for Christ to take a body of
another nature in His conception, a heavenly one for instance, as
Valentine asserted, it is much more unbecoming for Him at His
Resurrection to resume a body of another nature, because in His
Resurrection He resumed unto an everlasting life, the body which in His
conception He had assumed to a mortal life.
Reply to Objection 1: Flesh and blood are not to be taken there for the nature of
flesh and blood, but, either for the guilt of flesh and blood, as Gregory
says [*St. Gregory, Moral. in Job 14:56], or else for the corruption of
flesh and blood: because, as Augustine says (Ad Consent., De Resur.
Carn.), "there will be neither corruption there, nor mortality of flesh
and blood." Therefore flesh according to its substance possesses the
kingdom of God, according to Lk. 24:39: "A spirit hath not flesh and
bones, as you see Me to have." But flesh, if understood as to its
corruption, will not possess it; hence it is straightway added in the
words of the Apostle: "Neither shall corruption possess incorruption."
Reply to Objection 2: As Augustine says in the same book: "Perchance by reason of
the blood some keener critic will press us and say; If the blood was" in
the body of Christ when He rose, "why not the rheum?" that is, the
phlegm; "why not also the yellow gall?" that is, the gall proper; "and
why not the black gall?" that is, the bile, "with which four humors the
body is tempered, as medical science bears witness. But whatever anyone
may add, let him take heed not to add corruption, lest he corrupt the
health and purity of his own faith; because Divine power is equal to
taking away such qualities as it wills from the visible and tractable
body, while allowing others to remain, so that there be no defilement,"
i.e. of corruption, "though the features be there; motion without
weariness, the power to eat, without need of food."
Reply to Objection 3: All the blood which flowed from Christ's body, belonging as
it does to the integrity of human nature, rose again with His body: and
the same reason holds good for all the particles which belong to the
truth and integrity of human nature. But the blood preserved as relics in
some churches did not flow from Christ's side, but is said to have flowed
from some maltreated image of Christ.
Article 4: Whether Christ's body ought to have risen with its scars?
Objection 1: It would seem that Christ's body ought not to have risen with its
scars. For it is written (1 Cor. 15:52): "The dead shall rise incorrupt."
But scars and wounds imply corruption and defect. Therefore it was not
fitting for Christ, the author of the resurrection, to rise again with
Objection 2: Further, Christ's body rose entire, as stated above (Article ). But
open scars are opposed to bodily integrity, since they interfere with the
continuity of the tissue. It does not therefore seem fitting for the open
wounds to remain in Christ's body; although the traces of the wounds
might remain, which would satisfy the beholder; thus it was that Thomas
believed, to whom it was said: "Because thou hast seen Me, Thomas, thou
hast believed" (Jn. 20:29).
Objection 3: Further, Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iv) that "some things are
truly said of Christ after the Resurrection, which He did not have from
nature but from special dispensation, such as the scars, in order to make
it sure that it was the body which had suffered that rose again." Now
when the cause ceases, the effect ceases. Therefore it seems that when
the disciples were assured of the Resurrection, He bore the scars no
longer. But it ill became the unchangeableness of His glory that He
should assume anything which was not to remain in Him for ever.
Consequently, it seems that He ought not at His Resurrection to have
resumed a body with scars.
On the contrary, Our Lord said to Thomas (Jn. 20:27): "Put in thy finger
hither, and see My hands; and bring hither thy hand, and put it into My
side, and be not faithless but believing."
I answer that, It was fitting for Christ's soul at His Resurrection to
resume the body with its scars. In the first place, for Christ's own
glory. For Bede says on Lk. 24:40 that He kept His scars not from
inability to heal them, "but to wear them as an everlasting trophy of His
victory." Hence Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xxii): "Perhaps in that
kingdom we shall see on the bodies of the Martyrs the traces of the
wounds which they bore for Christ's name: because it will not be a
deformity, but a dignity in them; and a certain kind of beauty will shine
in them, in the body, though not of the body." Secondly, to confirm the
hearts of the disciples as to "the faith in His Resurrection" (Bede, on
Lk. 24:40). Thirdly, "that when He pleads for us with the Father, He may
always show the manner of death He endured for us" (Bede, on Lk. 24:40).
Fourthly, "that He may convince those redeemed in His blood, how
mercifully they have been helped, as He exposes before them the traces of
the same death" (Bede, on Lk. 24:40). Lastly, "that in the Judgment-day
He may upbraid them with their just condemnation" (Bede, on Lk. 24:40).
Hence, as Augustine says (De Symb. ii): "Christ knew why He kept the
scars in His body. For, as He showed them to Thomas who would not believe
except he handled and saw them, so will He show His wounds to His
enemies, so that He who is the Truth may convict them, saying: 'Behold
the man whom you crucified; see the wounds you inflicted; recognize the
side you pierced, since it was opened by you and for you, yet you would
Reply to Objection 1: The scars that remained in Christ's body belong neither to
corruption nor defect, but to the greater increase of glory, inasmuch as
they are the trophies of His power; and a special comeliness will appear
in the places scarred by the wounds.
Reply to Objection 2: Although those openings of the wounds break the continuity
of the tissue, still the greater beauty of glory compensates for all
this, so that the body is not less entire, but more perfected. Thomas,
however, not only saw, but handled the wounds, because as Pope Leo [*Cf.
Append. Opp. August., Serm. clxii] says: "It sufficed for his personal
faith for him to have seen what he saw; but it was on our behalf that he
touched what he beheld."
Reply to Objection 3: Christ willed the scars of His wounds to remain on His
body, not only to confirm the faith of His disciples, but for other
reasons also. From these it seems that those scars will always remain on
His body; because, as Augustine says (Ad Consent., De Resurr. Carn.): "I
believe our Lord's body to be in heaven, such as it was when He ascended
into heaven." And Gregory (Moral. xiv) says that "if aught could be
changed in Christ's body after His Resurrection, contrary to Paul's
truthful teaching, then the Lord after His Resurrection returned to
death; and what fool would dare to say this, save he that denies the true
resurrection of the flesh?" Accordingly, it is evident that the scars
which Christ showed on His body after His Resurrection, have never since
been removed from His body.