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Holiness, Holy

See also Holy

HOLINESS, HOLY. Usually translations of words derived from a Hebrew root qadash and Greek hag-. The basic meaning of qadash is “separateness, withdrawal.” It is first applied to God and is early associated with ideas of purity and righteousness. Long before the prophetic period the ethical content is plain. Greek hag- is an equivalent of qadash, and its history is similar. Beginning as an attribute of deity, the hag- family of words developed two stems, one meaning “holy,” the other “pure.” The use of words of this family in the LXX to translate the qadash family resulted in a great development of their ethical sense, which was never clear in classical Greek. What became increasingly evident in the OT is overwhelmingly explicit in the NT: that holiness means the pure, loving nature of God, separate from evil, aggressively seeking to universalize itself; that this character is inherent in places, times, and institutions intimately associated with worship; and that holiness is to characterize human beings who have entered into personal relationship with God.

Summary: The idea of holiness originates in the revealed character of God and is communicated to things, places, times, and persons engaged in his service. The ethical nature of holiness grows clearer as revelation unfolds, until the holiness of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; of the church as a body; and of individual members of that body fills the NT horizon. Holiness is interwoven with righteousness and purity. To seek holiness apart from the other qualities of a Christlike life is to wander from the way of holiness itself.

Bibliography: R. Otto, The Idea of the Holy, 1946; H. Ringgren, The Prophetical Conception of Holiness, 1948; S. Neill, Christian Holiness, 1960; O. R. Jones, The Concept of Holiness, 1961; O. Prochsch, TDNT, 1:88-115.——ER