Have you ever made adequate plans that allowed you to avoid the loss of an item? In contrast, have you ever lost an item and tried to recover it? I mean, for example, that you didn't leave your cell phone charger at a motel room, because you double-checked your room and took it with you before you left. Contrast that with the time you did leave it behind, because you had to rush to catch your shuttle service and so you left the charger behind. Double-checking for the charger and taking it with is a lot less complex than trying to recover a cell phone charger you left behind. It also can take a lot of time to recover it when you call the motel, they search for it. they get back to you, you pay postage, they send it to you, you wait for it to arrive or you decide to go purchase a new one and it is not in stock, etc. You get the idea.
Unfortunately for holy, we are dealing with a recovery process. Let me illustrate the complexity of its recovery through the example of a multiple choice test.
If I was to give a multiple choice test on the meaning of holy, there would be a lot of options. Over the long period of trying to find its meaning, many have claimed to find it and found different meanings or different clues to its meaning. If I list the possible multiple choices in historical order, then there would also be a further lesson to learn. The choices are not only more than one or two. They have also grown to many options over time.
My ultimate desire is to arrive at the one meaning intended in Ancient Hebrew, Ancient Aramaic and then later in Greek. My purpose right now is to show that the recovery of the lost meaning of holy means that the problem is complex and that fixing the problem also takes more time because the simple meaning of holy was lost. You could say that the many possible multiple choices proves it was once lost. This could not have been case in the ancient text. There is no indication of such an expansive list of meaning nor of the need for so many clues outside the text.
Among these options, I have chosen different answers at different times. But perhaps the best answer at this moment (not for all time) for me is: n. whole, but still possibly b. set apart. The ultimate goal would then be to arrive at a. whole.
It is the best to me, because I think the combined evidence leans the evidence in the direction of a. whole, but it also recognizes two advances in trying to recover the meaning of holy. First, it recognizes that there was strength in the past in the answer whole and set apart, but also sees an advance in knowledge from the late 19th ct. that says it must be one of these two meanings and not both. So "yet" must take the place of "and" until there is a further advance in our recovery process.
The recovery of possible meanings before the 19th century and then joining them together in similar fashion is no longer possible. Also q. might be true, yet it remains largely unproven until texts like Psalm 33 are more thoroughly examined. I plan on doing this in the future.
So when you are next searching for the definition of holy, please remember that the recovery of its possible meaning makes the multiple choice options much longer than what you will find in a standard dictionary or lexicon (a technical foreign language dictionary). Holy's simple meaning got lost and now we have to recover it.
I guess it all boils down to two general points: (1) recovery is complex and prevention is simple and (2) recovery is longer and prevention is shorter. We should not be shocked by the amount of complexity that has been created nor by the large expenditure of time on the meaning of holy by scholars and translators.
Yet also recall that not all the answers are equal ("best") and sooner or later, one answer will emerge that will convince a great number of people that it is the one and only best answer. I believe eventually we will arrive back at a simple answer like that of a. whole or b. set apart. I look forward to that day and I keep looking for the lost item and clues to the simple (one) meaning until that day arrives.