Holy in the bible means either whole or separate. I would rank the meaning of whole at 70% and the meaning of separate at 30%. Many would reverse those two percentages, yet I have the advantage of a great deal of unpublished material these other people have never seen. I am doing my best to get all of this unpublished material on the internet, but my time is limited at this point in the course of my ministry.
Only in the face of uncertainty, do I think it is wise to hold onto two definitions of holy. I believe we live in one of those times. So it is wise, to "not throw the baby out with the bathwater", but to be sure you've separated the two of them first. This same sage advice is foolish, when no reasonable uncertainty exists.
I am also aware that these promising definitions for holy are polar opposites. So my goal is to remove any reasonable uncertainty about the meaning of holy and to then introduce a definition with a reasonable amount of certainty to support it.
There are four keys to solving any issue of decipherment for an unknown language or for an uncertain word in a language according to the experts in deciphering unknown languages:
· There should be a large enough database and texts of the language (Amount)
· There should be a connected cultural context of the language (Relationship)
· There should be understood parallel or bilingual inscriptions of the language (Action)
· There should be pictorial or concrete references with the text of the language (Thing)
This is where the proof must be gathered to prove the meaning of holy. Fortunately, we are able to find evidence for all four of these keys. For our limited purposes in this blog, I would like to look at the last key of finding a pictorial or concrete reference for the word of holy.
In a concrete sense, for something to be "cut" (the root idea behind separate) or "uncut" (an analogy for whole) is very pictorial. It is easy to separate the two of them visually. Just take out your steak knife and cut a carrot. You have a very good visual of cut. Now magine another carrot that remains uncut. They are picture perfect polar opposites.
When we look at the concrete objects closely associated with holy, we find these as a beginning list: days, stones, ground, moutain, sacrifice and body. I will later talk about the more abstract concepts of self, name and morality as extensions of these concrete or literal meanings of cut or uncut.
If holy means "to set apart" or "to separate", then its literal or concrete idea is as follows for each concrete object:
- a day cut off from six other days (Geneis 2:1-3)
- altar stones cut off from other stones (Deuteronomy 27:6)
- ground/area cut off from other ground/area (Exodus 3:5)
- a mountain cut off from other mountains or land (Exodus 19:3, Deuteronomy 4:11)
- a sacrifice cut off from other sacrifices (Leviticus 1:3, Romans 12:1-2)
- a body cut off from other bodies (Leviticus 21:15-20, 1 Corinthians 6:19)
If holy means "to make or to keep whole", then its literal or concrete idea is as follows for each concrete object:
- an uncut day of evening to evening (Genesis 2:1-3)
- an uncut/whole altar stone (Deuteronomy 27:6 )
- an uncut ground/area (Exodus 3:5)
- an uncut mountain of the entire thing (Exodus 19:3; Deuteronomy 4:11 )
- an uncut/unblemished sacrifice (Leviticus 1:3; Romans 12:1-2 )
- an uncut/unmaimed body (Leviticus 21:15-20; 1 Corinthians 6:19)
If we extend the literal or concrete meanings of "cut" into more figurative or abstract meaning, then the idea by implication in various contexts (even where it is not used directly):
- a self cut off from other selves (Luke 10:26-28)
- a name cut off from other names (Matthew 6:9; Luke 11:2)
- a morality cut off from immorality (Romans 7:12 and all contexts dealing with holy, righteous, true, loving and good)
Every single one of these concepts is biblical, the question is whether they are biblical through the use of the word holy. If they are not, then by adding the instances of holy to the list of even a correct biblical idea, increases the magnitude of importance beyond the importance the bible assigns to them. In other words, we distort the message of the Bible. On the flip-side, we also diminish the importance of being whole in relationship to each of these things. That may be the great crime.
If we extend the literal or concrete meanings of "uncut" into more figurative or abstract meaning, then the idea is by implication in various contexts (even where it is not used directly):
- an uncut self - heart, soul, strength and mind are all essentials (Luke 10:26-28)
- an uncut/corporate/comprehensive name - no word is more comprehensive of personality (Matthew 6:9; Luke 11:2)
- an uncut morality - righteous, true, loving and good are all included (Romans 7:12 and all contexts dealing with holy, righteous, true, loving and good)
Every single one of these concepts is also biblical. The problem is the same as we see with the other meaning of separate, if it is not biblically accurate in its understanding of holy. We distort and diminish the other concept in a way that is not biblical.
In either case, the implications are large because holy is such a large concept in the bible. That is why we cannot afford to get it wrong. If it were a minor concept, then there would be no serious implication from error.
I hope these concrete objects in the context of holy help you make sense of the two ideas of "set apart" and "whole." They are diametrically opposed to each other in concrete meaning and the weighty importance of the meaning of the word holy potentially distorts things in a large way. This is not a small thing because decipherment is only the beginning. The implications are far greater because they effect our view of the world.
In future pieces of writing, I will further develop the other important pillars for deciphering the definite meaning of holy. It is the combination of them that I believe will give us reasonable certainty about what the word means. But for now I hope you are able to make sense of things in terms of meaning, because that is an important first step.
It is paramount that every real Christian take this very seriously. It has grave or momentous consequences, because biblical words have big implications far beyond any other words on this planet.