IVP’s Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, edited by literary scholar Leland Ryken, Christian education expert James Wilhoit, and biblical theologian Tremper Longman III, is one of my top resources in my own personal study of the Scriptures. The lengthy, almost three-page article on beauty is fantastic and is a credit to this volume, which I would recommend for every serious Christian’s bookshelf. Here is a concluding excerpt:
The imagery of beauty is extensive in the Bible, ranging from the paradise in which God planted every tree that is pleasant, to the sight of the resplendent heavenly Jerusalem that dazzles our sight in the closing passage of the Bible. We can infer from the biblical images of beauty that the longing for beauty, along with an ability to recognize and experience it, exists within every human being. Although the Bible does not state it explicitly, it is a fair inference that experiences of earthly beauty awaken a longing for a beauty that is more permanent and transcendent than anything this life can give – a longing for the beauty of God. Certainly the beauty of the holy city (and its forerunner, the Zion of the temple) is from the glory of God, who is himself its source, its temple and its light. In heaven all God’s servants will see his face as David inseperable longed to do: “There shall no more be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants shall worship him; they shall see his face, and his name shall be on their foreheads” (Rev 22:3-4 RSV). And in seeing God they will se beauty in its pure form fo the first time.