There is a song, "Beautiful Scandalous Night." Also, I have heard this term used with regards to the crucifixion. I assume this does not have the colloquial meaning. What does it mean?

  • 1
    I'm sure it has the normal meaning. The cross is a scandal because the perfect Son of God was killed.
    – curiousdannii
    Nov 8, 2016 at 3:08
  • The song is clearly talking about the crucifixion, and nothing else, so incarnation may be the wrong term here. Night and incarnation immediately suggests Jesus' birth, which is not relevant to the scandal, although it was scandalous in a smaller way, as the humility of Jesus the king. The crucifixion took place during the day, not at night. The songwriter may have thought of the three hours of darkness or darkest moment in history, but the symbolism of night seems confusing here.
    – Bit Chaser
    Nov 9, 2016 at 23:13
  • fixed the word incarnation for crucifixion. Makes way more sense.
    – Jay
    Nov 10, 2016 at 5:17

1 Answer 1


Perhaps the closest biblical connection is to 1 Corinthians 1:23:

we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles (ESV)

Ravi Zacharias makes this connection in an article entitled "The Scandal of the Cross":

To the Greek, the cross was foolishness. To the Jew, it was a stumbling block. What is it about the cross of Christ that so roundly defies everything that power relishes? Crucifixion was humiliating. It was so humiliating that the Romans who specialized in the art of torture assured their own citizenry that a Roman could never be crucified. But not only was it humiliating, it was excruciating. In fact, the very word “excruciating” comes from two Latin words: ex cruciatus, or out of the cross. Crucifixion was the defining word for pain.

Mark Baker and Joel Green, in Recovering the Scandal of the Cross, also see a connection between this passage and the "scandal" of the crucifixion:

Paul himself provides evidence that we have too easily made sense of the scandal of the death of God's Messiah. In 1 Corinthians 1:18–25, Paul outlines a perspective on the cross many of us have learned to overlook. Here he testifies to the lunacy of the cross for the first-century Roman, matched by its ignominious character among the Jewish people. [...] In Paul's argument with the Corinthians the cross does not have the appearance of "good news" but of absurdity. (33)

And finally, D. A. Carson titles his 2010 book on the crucifixion and resurrection Scandalous, emphasizing the ironies and absurdities associated with the crucifixion (cf. Matthew 27, Romans 3, and Revelation 12). So to many Christian writers, the typical understanding of the word scandalous as "shocking" and "upsetting" (see Merriam-Webster) is perfectly, even eminently, applicable to the cross.


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