Seeing Sanctification: The Perceptibility of Holiness and its Status as an Interpretive Concept

Annie Calderbank

How can holiness be perceived? I will investigate this question by examining narratives of sanctification, such as Num 20.1-13, Lev 10.1-3, and Ezek 28.20-26. I will reflect on two key issues. Firstly, I will consider the interpretive character of holiness in these texts, where the language of sanctification serves to communicate the significance of the events described. This will involve exploring the flexible and varied relationship between concrete phenomena and their identification in terms of holiness. Secondly, I will draw attention to our distance as scholars from an intuitive sense of holiness within these biblical contexts. It is difficult to find an interpretive framework by which to move from the details of the events to their rearticulation in terms of sanctification. It is challenging to perceive holiness in the stories told. There is irony to this scholarly imperception where the texts themselves represent sanctification as occurring ‘in the sight of’ (לעיני) characters within the narrative. By exploring dynamics of perceptibility and imperceptibility, I seek to deepen our understanding of and approach to the concept of holiness.

Annie Calderbank (Oxford)