Holy and Unholy


I followed a series of lectures from Yale on the Hebrew Bible.

The point was made that when something unholy came into contact with something holy, that which was holy is now considered defiled or unclean.


Surely the power of the Holy is greater than the power of the unholy?


Sarah x :slight_smile:


It’s not about power. You might benefit from reading Mircea Eliade’s The Sacred and the Profane, or for a shorter treatment, this blog article: bonald.wordpress.com/in-defense-of-religion/religion-and-the-sacred/. If you prefer a more sociological (and in my opinion, drier) take on it, Emil Durkheim wrote a good bit on the topic as well.

To be sacred or holy is to be set apart from the world. When a thing that is set apart from the world come into contact with a thing that is of the world, it ceases (pretty much by definition) being set apart from the world. “Unholy” or “unclean” is one way of thinking about such things, but I prefer “profane.” Profane is not necessarily bad. It literally means “outside the fane,” i.e., outside the temple. My job (as a statistician/researcher) is profane, even though it’s not evil, because there is nothing otherworldly about it.


It was not that the Holy was not greater than the unholy as you put it -but that humanity needed to learn and know the difference (though this too needed further work - since man went too far one can say in such…as Jesus then brought to fulfillment and correction).

After the fall of man - the pedagogy of God was a slow process step by step forward… until the time was right for the incarnation of the Logos (Jesus Christ the Son of God). So his people had to come to realize the reality of God, of Holiness, of being set apart from the corruption that had spread through civilization.


53 The divine plan of Revelation is realized simultaneously “by deeds and words which are intrinsically bound up with each other” and shed light on each another. It involves a specific divine pedagogy: God communicates himself to man gradually. He prepares him to welcome by stages the supernatural Revelation that is to culminate in the person and mission of the incarnate Word, Jesus Christ.

St. Irenaeus of Lyons repeatedly speaks of this divine pedagogy using the image of God and man becoming accustomed to one another: The Word of God dwelt in man and became the Son of man in order to accustom man to perceive God and to accustom God to dwell in man, according to the Father's pleasure.



Thank you.

That’s very helpful.

I was thinking in terms of power or ability to influence/

As you describe it, that makes more sense.

Sarah x :slight_smile:


Thank you Bookcat.

Same idea of the Holy being set apart.

I can understand this concept more readily than I could when I was thinking in terms of having the ‘power’ to defile.

Sarah x :slight_smile:


Also keep in mind that a series from Harvard - is a series from Harvard. Not a series from say a Pontifical University in Rome that is concentrated on the subject and carries with it the benefit of 2000 years of meditation and intellectual thought and prayer.


Not even Harvard, but – eep! :eek: – Yale!

Thurston Howell must be spinning in his grave.


Oh oh…

Yes. Yale.

(though I will add that they did a splendid complete works of St. Thomas More at Yale…)

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