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Holiness

Holiness (OE, halignes, ‘without blemish’). The state of being set apart for God, or for religious purposes. For R. Otto, the Holy is Ganz Andere, the Totally Other, and all that relates to it must be separated from the profane and sinful. Holiness (Heb., kedushah) is a fundamental requirement of Jewish religion. (Leviticus 19. 2). What does it mean to be holy? According to Maimonides, ‘When the Bible says, “Be holy”, it means precisely the same as if it had said, “Keep my commandments”.’ Torah is thus the syag (‘fence’, a founding principle of rabbinic Judaism, Pirqe Avot 1. 1, ‘Be reflective in judgement, raise up many pupils, and build a syag around Torah') which prevents diffusion into randomness and uncertainty.

Christianity inherited the hope of holiness from Judaism, but no longer saw Torah as either a necessary or a sufficient condition. The Holy Spirit is the source of the making holy (i.e. sanctification) of Christians, who become (or are meant to become) temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6. 11 and 20; 1 Peter 2. 9).

The word ‘holiness’ is then widely used for comparable vocations and goals in other religions, although it then loses its more specific constituents. In particular, it merges with considerations of purity and ablution: see also SACRED AND PROFANE.

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holiness

ho·li·ness / ˈhōlēnis/ • n. the state of being holy: a life of holiness and total devotion to God. ∎  (His/Your Holiness) a title given to the pope, Orthodox patriarchs, and the Dalai Lama, or used in addressing them. ∎  [as adj.] denoting a Christian renewal movement originating in the mid 19th century among Methodists in the U.S., emphasizing the Wesleyan doctrine of the sanctification of believers.

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