An Essay in Secondary Holiness
This response to Mark Murphy’s Divine Holiness and Divine Action constructs an account of what Murphy calls “secondary holiness” — the holiness of everything other than God — oriented to the Jewish tradition. On the theory that differences come out most sharply against a background of similarities, an initial section lays out what the author shares with Murphy methodologically. The essay then offers a reading of the aesthetic and ethical significance of Jewish ritual practices that delimit holy objects and times. Central to the ethical aspect of this account is an analysis of what it might mean, in interpersonal relationships, to respect certain things as “sacred” to another; this leads to the suggestion that regarding certain things as sacred to God may be a basis on which to develop a personal relationship with God.