From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

BEAUTY. —This term is applied alike to the physical grace of men and animals, to external nature and works of art, and to moral character and action. In every relationship it is a quality capable of imparting exquisite pleasure, and a power that commands and captivates. The appreciation of beauty for its own intrinsic charm was a special characteristic of the Greeks, to whom the world was a wonder of order and adaptation, and who found an element of worship in the beauty that was a prerogative of the gods. With the Israelites, and in the East generally, beauty was esteemed rather as a sign of dignity and noble birth ( Judges 8:18), and beautiful things were valued as the accessories of official decoration. Much in the Gospels that we feel to be beautiful and describe by that name, is there specialized by such terms as ‘grace,’ ‘glory,’ ‘excellency,’ as indicating in each particular case the arresting feature of charm, sublimity, or pre-eminence that makes it beautiful. Thus in the appeal, ‘If God so clothe the grass of the field’ ( Luke 12:28), and in the declaration concerning the lilies of the field, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of them ( Luke 12:27), the beauty was due to external investiture rather than to any inherent fact of symmetry and proportion. So when the merchantman is described as seeking goodly pearls ( Matthew 13:45), and the righteousness of Christ’s disciples is expected to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees ( Matthew 5:20), the quality of beauty arises from the surprising rarity and recognized pre-eminence of the things referred to.

1. Personal appearance of Christ .—Much has been written about the face of Christ. Tradition, gathering its data from the apocryphal ‘Letter of Lentulus,’ the portrait which Jesus is said to have sent to king Abgar of Edessa, the story of Veronica’s veil, the pictures and eikons of the early and mediaeval Church, and accumulated literary traditions, has given to Art its typical presentation of Christ’s countenance. The subject, however, is one about which there is no certain information. On the mount of Transfiguration the three disciples had a brief glimpse of the heavenly beauty that then shone out from the face of Christ. But those who were then eye-witnesses of His majesty ( 2 Peter 1:16) tell us that the glorious vision surpassed all description. It remained with them as a restful and inspiring memory, like the ‘unspeakable words’ of St. Paul’s ecstatic experience ( 2 Corinthians 12:4).

2. Beauty in external nature .—It is profoundly suggestive of the reality of the Incarnation that He by whom the worlds were made spoke so little about them. When He called Himself and His disciples ‘the light of the world’ ( John 8:12,  Matthew 5:14), the allusion to light was not in the spirit of Milton’s sublime apostrophe ( Par. Lost , iii. 1 ff.), but with reference to its conflict with darkness. When He pointed to the redness of the evening sky ( Matthew 16:2), it was not to speak of a Presence immanent in the light of setting suns, but to express the feeling of wonder that those who could draw a practical lesson from something so remote could not hear the footsteps of moral destiny so close behind themselves. And so in the instances of the frail, beautiful grass and the lilies of the field ( Matthew 6:28 ff.), the allusion served as an argument for God’s still greater care of things more precious.

3. Ethical beauty .—The life of Christ witnessed in every detail to His inspiring and impressive personality. It is surely a torso presentation of that life that would make ‘sweet reasonableness’ its prevailing characteristic. Rather it is marked by the absence of that philosophic detachment that would live and let live. In His mind truth took precedence even of the heavenly hope, and He assured His disciples that if that hope were a sweet but baseless imagination, He would have told them ( John 14:2). He had come as light into the world, and questionings not only of the defiant darkness ( John 1:5), but of the bewildering twilight ( John 16:17 ff.), sprang up around His path. In His presence men were greater and less than they had been before. Even in the days of His flesh those who were Christ’s were impelled to put on Christ, and were afterwards recognized as having been with Him ( Acts 4:13). He exemplified in His own life the principle by which His disciples were to live and extend His kingdom. His outward power was the measure of His inward submission. He came not to do His own will ( John 6:38). It was when He was lifted up that He would draw all men unto Himself ( John 12:32). Even so the life of the Christian has its condition of complete and continuous surrender, and in the service of the gospel it is found that men do not yield to the messenger, but to what they see that he yields to.

In the course of Christ’s life on earth, along with the general impression of His teaching and ministry there were various incidents that showed in a special manner with what tender sympathy He took upon Him our nature and bore our infirmities. Among these may be mentioned the conversation with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well (John 4), the blessing of the little children that were almost sent away ( Matthew 19:13 ff.), the touching of the leper in the act of healing ( Matthew 8:3), and the words of hope concerning Nineveh ( Matthew 12:41) and Tyre ( Luke 10:13 f.), and those who should come into the Kingdom from the distant East and West ( Matthew 8:11). On the cross we have the prayer for His persecutors ( Luke 23:34), His comradeship with the penitent thief ( Luke 23:42 f.), and the commending of His mother to the care of the disciple John ( John 19:26 f.).

Also in the lives of others, chiefly of women, He met with intuitions and actions which through His affinity of soul were noticed and commended by Him as bearing the stamp of moral and spiritual beauty. Such were the return of the Samaritan leper to give glory to God ( Luke 17:16 ff.); the humble insistency of the Syro-Phœnician woman ( Mark 7:26 ff.); the courage and consecration of the widow who gave her mites to the Lord ( Mark 12:42 ff.); the act of the sinful woman who bathed His feet with her tears ( Luke 7:44), and of her also who unsealed, as for His burial, the alabaster vase of precious ointment ( John 12:7).

With regard to things physically and morally loathsome, on the other hand, the disease of leprosy ( Matthew 8:2,  Luke 7:22;  Luke 17:12) and the affliction of demoniac possession ( Matthew 9:32,  Mark 7:26,  Luke 8:39 etc.) could always claim His healing power; there was discriminating pity towards those who had sinned in ignorance ( Luke 23:34), or who had been overcome by some swift and overmastering temptation ( Matthew 26:41,  Luke 7:47,  John 4:16;  John 21:15), or by the difficulties of outward circumstance ( Mark 10:21 f.,  Luke 13:8); while in sharp contrast with the above, there was His denunciation by descriptive parable and stern rebuke of the hopeless offensiveness of the Pharisaic type ( Matthew 21:19;  Matthew 21:23,  Luke 20:19 etc.).

Literature.—Under (1) Hauck-Herzog, PR E [Note: RE Real-Encyklopädie fur protest. Theologic und Kirche.] , art. ‘Christusbilder’; Schaff-Herzog, Encyc. of Relig. Knowledge , art. ‘Christ, Pictures of’; Farrar, Christ in Art , pp. 67–95. Under (2) Wendt, Teaching of Jesus , i. 151 ff.; Expositor , 3rd ser. ii. [1885] 224 ff. Under (3) Liddon, Bampton Lectures 8 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] , p. 192ff.; Channing, Complete Works [1884], pp. 237–243.

G. M. Mackie.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [2]

Old Testament Significance . Appreciation for beauty is a consistent theme throughout the Bible. The Bible also has a full-orbed doctrine of beauty. Thus, beauty for beauty's sake is not addressed. The Old Testament Scriptures are particularly appreciative of nature. God announced that creation was good ( Genesis 1 ). The psalms reveal an appreciation for God's handiwork ( Psalm 8;  19:1;  29;  104 ). God made his world good by causing the springs to gush forth in the valleys, the grass to grow for the cattle, and the moon to mark the seasons. The Hebrew mind that reflected on God's goodness in nature was in contrast to the pagan mind-set of the surrounding nations, which often went so far as to declare that the world was totally evil.

Human Attractiveness . Both women and men are described as attractive. Human beings at times used cosmetics to make themselves more beautiful ( Isaiah 3:18-24 ). Sarah ( Genesis 12:11 ), Rebekah ( Genesis 24:16 ), Abigail ( 1 Samuel 25:3 ), Rachel, Abishag, Bathsheba, and Esther are singled out for their beauty. Yet physical beauty was secondary to piety and resourcefulness ( Proverbs 31:10-31; also see  1 Timothy 2:9-10;  1 Peter 3:3-5 ). The writer of the Song of Solomon portrays his love for his bride as beautiful. Though the Hebrews did not exalt the human form as did the ancient Greeks, some men are referred to as exceedingly handsome: David ( 1 Samuel 16:12 ), Absalom ( 2 Samuel 14:25 ), Daniel ( Daniel 1:15 ), Joseph, Jonathan, and even Moses as a child ( Exodus 1 ). Clothing also had esthetic appeal (see  Genesis 41:42;  45:22;  Exodus 26:36;  28:2;  Revelation 3:4 ).

Divine Descriptions Scripture presents an implicit theology of beauty as a concomitant of divine creativity and eschatological redemption. The Lord's favor is beautiful and his hopeful promises offer "beauty for ashes" for his people (  Psalm 90:17;  Isaiah 61:3 ). God is a diadem of beauty for the faithful Israelite remnant ( Isaiah 28:5 ).

God is a God of glory, and his Shekinah glory is ever present among his people ( Exodus 16:7;  24:16;  40:34;  Leviticus 9:6;  Numbers 14:10;  Deuteronomy 5:24 ). The promised Messiah was prophesied to be a beautiful king ( Isaiah 33:17 ). Yet the prophet also said that the suffering Messiah would have "no beauty or majesty to attract us to him" ( Isaiah 53:2 ).

Johannine Significance It should hardly surprise us that beauty plays such an important role in the Bible's eschatological drama. The Book of Revelation avoids anthropomorphic representations of God. God is described in undeniable splendor. The concept of beauty thus is more significant than simple attractiveness. Beauty is similar, if not synonymous, with God's glory. The one who sits on the throne of the universe "had the appearance of jasper and a rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne" (  Revelation 4:3 ). The Holy City, the final estate prepared for God's people, is gloriously adorned as a bride for her husband ( Revelation 21:2 ).

Pauline Significance In the present period, believers are exhorted to live in a manner that will make the teaching of the Lord beautiful and attractive before unbelievers (  Titus 2:10 ). Those who preach the gospel can be described as beautiful ( Romans 10:15 ).

David S. Dockery

King James Dictionary [3]

BEAU'TY, n. bu'ty.

1. An assemblage of graces, or an assemblage of properties in the form of the person or any other object, which pleases the eye. In the person, due proportion or symmetry of parts constitutes the most essential property to which we annex the term beauty. In the face, the regularity and symmetry of the features, the color of the skin, the expression of the eye, are among the principal properties which constitute beauty. But as it is hardly possible to define all the properties which constitute beauty, we may observe in general, that beauty consists in whatever pleases the eye of the beholder, whether in the human body, in a tree, in a landscape, or in any other object.

Beauty is intrinsic, and perceived by the eye at first view, or relative, to perceive which the aid of the understanding and reflection is requisite. Thus, the beauty of a machine is not perceived, till we understand its uses, and adaptation to its purpose. This is called the beauty of utility. By any easy transition, the word beauty is used to express what is pleasing to the other senses, or to the understanding. Thus we say, the beauty of a thought, of a remark, of sound, &c.

So beauty, armed with virtue, bows the soul

With a commanding, but a sweet control.

2. A particular grace, feature or ornament any particular thing which is beautiful and pleasing as the beauties of nature. 3. A particular excellence, or a part which surpasses in excellence that with which it is united as the beauties of an author. 4. A beautiful person, In scripture, the chief dignity or ornament.  2 Samuel 1 5. In the arts, symmetry of parts harmony justness of composition. 6. Joy and gladness.  Isaiah 61Order, prosperity,peace,holiness,  Ezekiel 26 .

BEAU'TY, bu'ty. To adorn to beautify or embellish. Obs.

Webster's Dictionary [4]

(1): (n.) A beautiful person, esp. a beautiful woman.

(2): (n.) Prevailing style or taste; rage; fashion.

(3): (n.) A particular grace, feature, ornament, or excellence; anything beautiful; as, the beauties of nature.

(4): (n.) An assemblage or graces or properties pleasing to the eye, the ear, the intellect, the aesthetic faculty, or the moral sense.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [5]

bū´ti  : The space allotted to this topic allows liberty only for the statement of two problems to students of the Bible. They should give distinct attention to the interblending of aesthetics with ethics in the Scripture. They should observe the extent and meaning of aesthetics in Nature.

1. Aesthetics in Scripture

That the Bible is an ethical book is evident. Righteousness in all the relations of man as a moral being is the key to its inspiration, the guiding light to correct understanding of its utterance. But it is everywhere inspired and writ in an atmosphere of aesthetics. Study will bring out this fact from Genesis to Revelation. The first pair make their appearance in a garden where grew "every tree that is pleasant to the sight" ( Genesis 2:9 ), and the last vision for the race is an abode in a city whose gates are of pearl and streets of gold ( Revelation 21:21 ). Such is the imagery that from beginning to end is pictured as the home of ethics - at first in its untried innocence and at last in its stalwart righteousness. The problem will be to observe the intermingling of these two elements - the beautiful and the good - in the whole Scripture range. A few texts will set before us this kinship and then the Bible student can detect it as he reads.

"One thing have I asked of Yahweh, that will I seek after:

That I may dwell in the house of Yahweh all the days of my life,

To behold the beauty of Yahweh,

And to inquire in his temple" ( Psalm 27:4 ).

"For all the gods of the peoples are idols;

But Yahweh made the heavens.

Honor and majesty are before him:

Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary" ( Psalm 96:5 ,  Psalm 96:6 ).

If we catch the spirit set forth in such and similar Psalms, we can use it as a magnetic needle to detect its like wherever we shall read: and we shall find that like in abundance. It is only necessary to turn to the directions given for making the Ark of the Covenant and its encircling tabernacle, and the decorations of the priests that were to minister in the worship of Yahweh in the ceremonies described, as given in Ex 25ff, to see that every resource of Israel was brought to bear to render ark and tabernacle and their service beautiful. One will find in a concordance half a column of references under the word "Ark" and a column and a half under the word "Tabernacle." By looking up these references one can realize how much care was spent to give and preserve to these aids to worship the attractiveness of beauty.

In 1 Ch 15 and 16 we have an account of David's bringing in the Ark of the Covenant into his own city to rest in a tent he had provided for it. On this occasion a demonstration was made with all the aesthetics of which the music of that day was capable. "And David spake to the chief of the Levites to appoint their brethren the singers, with instruments of music, psalteries and harps and cymbals, sounding aloud and lifting up the voice with joy." And David himself gave to the celebration the aesthetics of one of the noblest of his psalms (1 Ch 16:8-36).

It is almost idle to refer to Solomon and his temple (1 Ki 6ff; 2 Ch 3ff). It is a common understanding that the civilization of Solomon's day was drawn upon to its utmost in every department of aesthetics, in the building of that house for Yahweh and in the appointments for the worship there to be conducted. Beauty of form and color and harmony of sound were then and there integrated - made one - with worship in holiness. The propriety of that association has been seen and felt through the ages.

There is beauty in speech. It is a fact that the supreme classics in the literature of the tongues of two of the dominant nations of the earth, the English and the German, are translations of the Bible. There is no explanation of such fact except that the original justified the translations. You can read indifferently from one translation to the other and catch the same aesthetic gleam. Nobility and poetry of thought lay in what was to be translated. Here is proof that cannot be gainsaid that the Scripture authors sought the aid of aesthetics as garb for the ethics they taught. So they wrote in poetry. So they used allegory, illustration, figure, metaphor that would charm and hold. The parables of Jesus are examples of this method of clothing thought. They do their ethical work because they have swept into it figure and imagery from familiar aesthetic perceptions. "The sower went forth to sow" ( Matthew 13:3 ). That is a glad sight - always has been and always will be. That is why a picture of "The Sower" hangs on the walls of a Christian home. Just the painting - and every beholder remembers the parable and cannot forget its ethics. The intensity of thought concentrated upon ethics in the New Testament has drawn away attention from the partnership between these two principles in religion. But it is there, and we shall see it when once we look for it.

It is something to which we do not wake up till late in life - to wit, the measurelessness of the provision in Nature for beauty. Common consent awards beauty to the rainbow.

2. Aesthetics in Nature

Reflect that every drop of water in the ocean, or in the hydrated rocks, or in the vapor floating over Saturn, has in it the possibility of rainbow coloring. In fact all matter has color of which the rainbow is only specimen. Any element incandescent has a spectrum partially coincident with that of water and ranging above and below it in the infinite capacity it has to start ether undulations. As apparently the larger part of the matter of the universe is incandescent, we can see that the field for expression in color is infinite. No one but the infinite God can see it all.

If we come down to this plain, plodding earth, cultivation of aesthetic sense will bring out beauty everywhere, from the grandeur of mountain scenery to aesthetic curves and colors revealed only by the microscope. We say the butterfly is beautiful. But the larva from which it is derived often carries as much beauty in mottling of color and of the fineness of finish of spine and mandible. Looking across the scale in this way the evidence of theism from beauty itself becomes convincing. Beauty becomes a messenger of and from God - as Iris was to the Greek and the rainbow to the Hebrew ( Ecclesiastes 3:11 ).

This from Amiel's Journal Intime , I, 233, sets forth the radical, inexpugnable position of beauty in Nature and in philosophy thereof correctly interpretative: "To the materialist philosopher the beautiful is a mere accident, and therefore rare. To the spiritualist philosopher the beautiful is the rule, the law, the universal foundation of things, to which every form returns as soon as the force of accident is withdrawn."

As we accustom ourselves to make larger and larger synthesis in the department of aesthetics, what diapason of theistic message may we not hear? Beauty wherever and however expressed is a medium of revelation. It is a bush ever burning, never consumed. Before it "put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." That beauty should be - to that intent, for that end, from everlasting hath wrought the Ancient of Days.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [6]

(represented by numerous Hebrew terms, which in our version are frequently rendered by "comeliness," etc.). The Song of Solomon, particularly the sixth and seventh chapters, gives us some idea of what were then the notions of beauty in an Eastern bride, and by comparing these statements with modern Oriental opinions, we may perceive many points of agreement. Roberts says, "A handsome Hindoo female is compared to the sacred city of Seedambaram. Her skin is of the color of gold; her hands, nails, and soles of the feet are of a reddish hue; her limbs must be smooth, and her gait like the stately swan. Her feet are small, like the beautiful lotus; her waist as slender as the lightning; her arms are short, and her fingers resemble the five petals of the kantha flower; her breasts are like the young cocoa-nut, and her neck is as the trunk of the areca-tree. Her mouth is like the ambal flower, and her lips as coral; her teeth are like beautiful pearls; her nose is high and lifted up, like that of the chameleon (when raised to snuff the wind); her eyes are like the sting of a wasp and the Karungu-valley flower; her brows are like the bow, and nicely separated; and her hair is as the black cloud." Corpulency and stateliness of manner are qualities which the Orientals admire in their women; particularly corpulency, which is well known to be one of the most distinguishing marks of beauty in the East. Niebuhr says that plumpness is thought so desirable in the East, that women, in order to become so, swallow every morning and every evening three insects of a species of tenebriones, fried in butter.

Upon this principle is founded the compliment of Solomon ( Song of Solomon 1:9), and Theocritus, in his epithalamium for the celebrated Queen Helen, describes her as plump and large, and compares her to the horse in the chariots of Thessaly. The Arab women whom Mr. Wood saw among the ruins of Palmyra were well shaped, and, although very swarthy, yet had good features. Zenobia, the celebrated queen of that renowned city, was reckoned eminently beautiful, and the description we have of her person answers to that character; her complexion was of a dark brown, her eyes black and sparkling, and of an uncommon fire; her countenance animated and sprightly in a very high degree; her person graceful and stately; her teeth white as pearl; her voice clear and strong. Females of distinction in Palestine, and even farther east, are not only beautiful and well shaped, but in consequence of being kept from the rays of the sun, are very fair, and the Scripture bears the same testimony of Sarah, of Rebekah, and of Rachel; that they were "beautiful and well-favored."

The women of the poorer classes, however, are extremely brown and swarthy in their complexions, from being much exposed to the heat of the sun. It is on this account that the prophet Jeremiah, when he would describe a beautiful woman, represents her as one that keeps at home, because those who are desirous to preserve their beauty go very little abroad. Stateliness of the body has always been held in great estimation in Eastern courts, nor do they think any one capable of great services or actions to whom nature has not vouchsafed to give a beautiful form and aspect. It still is and has always been the custom of the Eastern nations to choose such for their principal officers, or to wait on princes and great personages ( Daniel 1:4). Sir Paul Rycaut observes that "the youths that are designed for the great offices of the Turkish empire must be of admirable features and looks, well shaped in their bodies, and without any defects of nature; for it is conceived that a corrupt and sordid soul can scarce inhabit a serene and ingenuous aspect; and I have observed not only in the seraglio, but also in the courts of great men, their personal attendants have been of comely lusty youths, well habited, deporting themselves with singular modesty and respect in the presence of their masters; so that when a pacha aga-spahi travels, he is always attended with a comely equipage, followed by flourishing youths, well mounted."