A biblical concept describing a fundamental experience in the relationship of God and humanity which blends within itself a variety of universal images. The English word translates the Hebrew noun kabod denoting ‘weight’ and hence ‘distinction’, and was associated with physical phenomena by which the presence of God was made known (e.g. thunder and lightning). Later it is used of God's characteristics, such as sovereignty and righteousness (Isa. 6: 1–4; 40: 4–5). In Ezekiel's vision, the glory of the Lord is said to leave Jerusalem. Later, the P source of the Pentateuch regards ‘the cloud’ as a kind of covering through which the glory shines (Exod. 24: 16–17). Thus Yahweh in the later narratives is conceived as both transcendent and having a local dwelling place in the Temple. Later still, in apocalyptic writings (e.g. 1 Enoch 14: 19–21), ‘glory’ is ascribed to the Messiah.
Another Hebrew word, Shekhinah, denoting God's accessibility to humanity without impairing his transcendence, was allied to the Hebrew kabod, and the LXX conflated them and used the word doxa. The Greek word also had an early meaning of ‘distinction’; but the OT concept of the divine brightness, splendour, sovereignty, and righteousness are signified by the word, and in so far as doxa refers to this character of God, then Jesus is that glory. What is new in the NT is that the glory (kabod, weight, importance) is manifested in the cross (Heb. 2: 9–10, John 17: 22).
Glory dwells in the Church, the temple of God (1 Pet. 2: 4–5; Eph. 2: 21–2), though it is only a foretaste of the glory to come (1 John 3: 2). It is the Church's work to glorify God, by which is meant not that we can somehow add to God's glory, but we are to recognize it and try to extend its recognition; to submit to it and render praise for it. Just as in Paul's epistles the glory is manifested in Christ's cross and resurrection (1 Cor. 2: 8), so it is also in the apostle's sufferings (2 Cor. 4: 17); and just as the apostle's tribulations are his glory, so too his converts participate in his glory (Eph. 3: 13).
Subjects: Biblical Studies.