“And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:67).
Newsstands are filled with fitness and fashion magazines that cast the body as an adversary to be bridled in order to become stronger and healthier.
The scriptures, of course, teach that the human body is a sacred vessel that requires caring and nurturing. But it’s also a gift to be appreciated and celebrated. Most important, it reflects the divine — a corporal witness that Christ is our Creator, Healer and Restorer.
An exhibition at Brigham Young University’s Joseph F. Smith Building was designed to help students and visitors at the Church-owned school better appreciate the miracle of the human body and understand its sacred origins.
“Bodies Filled with Light” includes dozens of anatomical illustrations from the 30th American edition of “Gray’s Anatomy” that detail the body’s intricate systems and organs.
On their own, the illustrations could stand as a first-rate exhibition of human anatomy. But “Bodies Filled with Light” takes a significant, additional step. Each illustration of, say, the hand, the neck or the heart is paired with a scriptural reference about the body. Clinical anatomical drawings combined with inspired writ are reminders of the eternal connection between the spirit and the body.
“It helps us remember that the primary purpose of mortality is to gain a body,” said Heather Seferovich, the exhibition’s co-curator.
To prepare for the exhibition, Sister Seferovich and others researched the number of times examples of human anatomy are found in the scriptures. The numbers are staggering: There are 9,123 references to the body in the LDS Standard Works. That’s one reference every 4.6 verses.
The Old Testament alone has more than 5,000 anatomy references, by far the most of any book of scripture. Body parts most frequently mentioned are the hand (2,272 times), the heart (1,466 times) and the eyes (736 times).
The body parts least mentioned in scripture include the hip, nails, the skull and the wrist. They’re only found once or twice.
“Bodies Filled with Light” is divided into three primary themes: the body of Christ, body structures and body systems. A reproduction of the Carl Bloch painting “Christ Healing the Sick at Bethesda” anchors the exhibition and testifies of the Lord’s central role in our own bodies.
The scriptures, of course, often use anatomical references to testify of the glory of God. As Daniel wrote: “His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words of a multitude” (Daniel 10:6).
Jonathan Wisco, a BYU professor of physical and developmental biology, was instrumental in developing the exhibition. He hopes visitors to the display leave with a deeper appreciation for the divinity found in every human body.
“When we learn about our bodies we learn about our Heavenly Father,” he said.
Located on the third floor of the Joseph F. Smith Building, “Bodies Filled with Light” will be on display until April 30, 2015. Visit bodiesfilledwithlight.byu.edu for more information.
[email protected] @JNSwensen