Monday, June 25, 2012

Contagious Holiness in the Old Testament?

Rudolf Otto's book on The Idea of the Holy is worth a close reading, but you'll need to go to Amazon to click on it. I don't recall if Otto analyzes the contagiousness of holiness in the Old Testament, but he does investigate other aspects, such as the danger posed by the holy's powerful dynamism, a related aspect.

I start my intensive writing course today, so I don't have as much time as I'd like to have, and thus didn't find a specific Old Testament passage that I was looking for on the holy's contagiousness, but I found a few useful verses on the transmissibility of holiness.

There is, for instance, Exodus 29:37 (referring to the altar):
Seven days thou dost make atonement for the altar, and hast sanctified it, and the altar hath been most holy; all that is coming against the altar is holy. (Young's Literal Translation)
A bit further is found Exodus 30:29 (referring to effect of holy anointing oil on the tent of meeting, the ark of the testimony, the table and all its vessels, the candlestick and its vessels, the altar of perfume, the altar of burnt-offering and all its vessels, and the laver and its base):
And thou hast sanctified them, and they have been most holy; all that is coming against them is holy; (Young's Literal Translation)
In the biblical book that follows is found Leviticus 6:18 (referring to the food of fire offerings):
Every male among the sons of Aaron doth eat it -- a statute age-during to your generations, out of the fire-offerings of Jehovah: all that cometh against them is holy. (Young's Literal Translation)
In all three of these, the expression "to come against" means "to come into contact with." Much further along -- and perhaps less clear -- is found Ezekiel 44:19 (referring to sacred garments):
And in their going forth unto the outer court -- unto the outer court unto the people -- they strip off their garments, in which they are ministering, and have placed them in the holy chambers, and have put on other garments; and they do not sanctify the people in their own garments. (Young's Literal Translation)
The implication seems to be that if the sacred garments were worn by the priests while they are ministering to the people, the people who come into contact with the priests will become holy, or so other translations say, but I recognize that the translation here is not so clear. By the way, note verse 23, merely four lines further along:
And My people they direct between holy and common, and between unclean and clean they cause them to discern.
This verse is nearly identical to Leviticus 10:10, which we looked at yesterday. Anyway, these verses, or at least three of them, show that the idea of contagious holiness is not foreign to the Old Testament.

I'll continue looking for the passage that I was thinking of but couldn't find today.

Labels: ,


At 2:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Tabernacle. [sp?]


At 2:48 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

You thinking of the JWs, JK?

Jeffery Hodges

* * *


Post a Comment

<< Home