Open Access

The Vision of God: St. Thomas Aquinas on the Beatific Vision and Resurrected Bodies

   | Jun 26, 2019
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Baptist and Reformed Theologies of Vision and Deification. Editors: Joshua R. Farris and Ryan A. Brandt


The beatific vision is central to St. Thomas Aquinas’ doctrine of the soul’s enlightenment. In its vision of the essence of God, the soul/intellect achieves its telos, its highest goal. But the resurrection of the body is a central dogma of the Christian faith, so the main question of this essay concerns the manner in which the resurrected body of the blessed benefits from the soul’s apprehension of the beatific vision. For St. Thomas, the physical eyes do not see the beatific vision, since they can only see magnitude and proportion, and God is beyond both. The soul is the body’s substantial form, and a person is not fully a person without the union of soul and body. As the body’s substantial form, the soul/intellect has the beatific vision as its substantial form. The result of the enlightened intellect with the resurrected body will be that the physical eyes will be able to see more readily the glory of God in creation and in redeemed humanity, and more supremely in the incarnate Christ himself.

Publication timeframe:
3 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Theology and Religion, General Topics and Biblical Reception