- Series: Galaxy Books (Book 14)
- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2 edition (December 31, 1958)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195002105
- ISBN-13: 978-0195002102
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.5 x 5.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 59 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #246,917 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Idea of the Holy 2nd Edition
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"This translation has firmly established its position as an authoritative and lucid representation of an acknowledged classic of religious thought."--London Quarterly Review
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The name of the book, "The Idea of the Holy: an inquiry into the non-rational factor in the idea of the divine and its relation to the rational" is just that: the book is what the name is. As for its content, the holy is what Rudolf Otto calls "the numinous" (from omen and ominous, thus numen and numinous). The numinous is above and beyond the meaning of goodness, a mental state perfectly sui generis and irreducible to any other and can be defined but cannot be discussed but it can be awakened in the spirit.
What I disagree with Rudolf Otto is in term of how he approaches mysticism. As he says, "Mysticism is...the overstressing of the non-rational or supra-rational elements in religion; and it is only intelligible when it's so understood." And "the over-abounding is specially characteristic of Mysticism." For me, mystical experience is about the only truth and mysticism is the system of truth. Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism and so many other religions are all systems of truth. Therefore, mystical experience is above the rational or the non-rational and that truth cannot be overabounding.
I will quote more of Rudolf Otto's as to make sure you know his drift.
"The Gospel of Jesus we see the consummation of the process tending to rationalize, moralize, and humanize the idea of God, which began with the earlier period of the old Hebrew tradition and became specially prominent as a living factor in the Prophets and the Psalms, in continually bringing the apprehension of the numinous to a richer fufilment by recognizing it attributes of clear and profound value for the reason. The result was the faith in 'the fatherhood of God' in that unsurpassable form in which it is peculiar to Christianity."
This book is also hard to read because of its so many wrong spellings and also many weird spellings. Rudolf Otto tends to pay some attention to other religions as well besides Christianity. I did not read the many prefaces by the translator John Wilfred but read the short preface by Rudolf Otto. I ignore the 13 appendixes which comprise about 27% of the book one part of the reason was because I had to struggle reading with the kindle app from the android tablet and the other part of the reason is I have some inexplicable feeling toward Rudolf Otto as a religious would feel toward a philosopher of religion.
However, the strangeness of our Father is the focus of this work, so if you are more interested in a loving God and not the aspect of God which seems weird and untouchable, approach this classic with some caution. I am not saying don't read it, I am saying it is a strange read--something akin to the feeling one gets when reading M. R. James, perhaps.
The translation is clear and concise without being shallow. While I do not identify as "Christian" I respect the author's commitment and perspective. I danced over some the promotional sections, while reading others to get his insights and clarify my own rebuttal to his theology. I found much to learn from without having to subscribe to his theological position.
This is a stimulating foundation for exploring the meaning of 'holy' and clarifying where I stand in relation to it. I will be reading Varieties of Religious Experience by William James next.