What is the meaning of the word holy from a Christian viewpoint?
I observed that the term is used for
- the gods, especially the Holy God (Father) and Holy Ghost;
- persons, such as the holy apostles, Holy St. Florian, etc.;
- buildings like churches;
- organisations (the holy church);
- relics and fetishes, such as the Holy Coat of Trier;
- cities, such as the holy city (this title is used for both Rome and Jerusalem).
Since holiness is nothing which can be identified with a scientific instrument, what is it? Is it just an attribute, awarded by a higher priest, which you then believe in? But what is it? Do you have to believe, that it can, for example, have healing effects? Does it just mean that you have to treat something with extra respect?
This is what I found in an encyclopedia:
Heilig, von Heil, also soviel wie in seiner Vollkommenheit nicht nur noch unverletzt, sondern auch unverletzlich, unantastbar, dann soviel wie schlechthin gut, sittlich vollkommen, makellos. Seine Wurzeln hat dieser Begriff teils im römischen Kultus, wo er das dem gemeinen Gebrauch Entzogene, höhern Zwecken Gewidmete (sacer, sanctus), teils im Alttestamentlichen, wo der Ausdruck (kadosch), von Gott ausgesagt, dessen Unterschiedenheit von allem Irdischen, seine Unvergleichlichkeit und Erhabenheit, von Irdischem ausgesagt, dessen Zugehörigkeit zu Gott, Gottgeweihtheit bedeutet. Vgl. Baudissin, Studien zur Religionsgeschichte, Bd. 2 (Leipz. 1878); Issel, Der Begriff der Heiligkeit im Neuen Testament (Leiden 1887).
For those of you who don’t speak German, I’ll try a translation:
Holy, from ‘intact, complete’, not only undamaged, but invulnerable, untouchable, but also completely good, ethical and morally perfect. The roots of the term reach to the Roman cult, where it means “taken away from common usage”, used for higher purpose (sacer, sanctus), partly in the Old Testament, where the term (kadosch), spoken of God, means his difference from anything terrestrial, his uncomparabliness and loftiness, and means “belonging to God” or antlared (? maybe not. -else: holiness, which is tautological. - remark by me, u.u.). Vgl. Baudissin, Studien zur Religionsgeschichte, Bd. 2 (Leipz. 1878); Issel, Der Begriff der Heiligkeit im Neuen Testament (Leiden 1887).
Maybe we can agree that a building can’t be morally good. Nor can bones, or cities, or weekdays.
Isn’t it fetishism to pray to dead objects made by men, to bones without spirit and clothes?
Or is holiness something like bacteria, which spread from God to a Saint, from the Saint to his clothes, from the clothes to a prayer? Is there evidence in the new Testament that touching such things is helpful, is something you should do?