[Milton-L] potestas ordinata, potestas absoluta, reason, and arbitratry commands

Horace Jeffery Hodges jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Sun Jul 13 23:04:17 EDT 2008

Jim, I'm short on time, so I'll just try to clarify some points.
Purity is not the same as holiness. Purity is an absence, whereas holiness is a dynamic force. However, an object can be purified and set apart for God and thereby designated holy. If it were purified but not set apart for God, it would not be called holy. By setting it apart, it acquires holiness in imitation of God as a being apart. Note that one meaning of "holy" is "set apart."
As for God's creation being holy, I'd need to see the scriptural citation on this. Genesis calls it "good" so perhaps it was originally pure, but I simply don't know what the Levitical system assumes on this point, and I've been trying to present the Levitical system as I understand it, based on my reading of Leviticus and on the commentary by Jacob Milgrom. Milgrom argues that, in principle, the common is in a pure state, and that would be consistent with the creation story, I think.
I don't see the Levitical system as Gnostic. Leviticus presents impurity as a force opposed to holiness, but it does not explain where this force of impurity comes from. Milgrom notes that both holiness and impurity are dynamic forces because in emanating from certain sources, they can imbue common objects with either holiness or impurity, respectively. For this reading to be Gnostic, the system would have to presuppose a second deity, as you note. Neither Leviticus nor I nor Milgrom do this.
Impurity might, however, be associated with demonic forces (as I noted in my reference to the scapegoat being sent to Azazel), but this would not necessarily be Gnostic. Christianity associates evil (and impure spirits) with Satan, but Christianity is not Gnostic. Leviticus simply does not clarify this point.
My confusion about the following:
What makes the "people" common or holy is not some innate quality, but a purification process by which they are set aside for use by God.

I misread it as saying that a purification process could make people common. Perhaps the "or" confused me.
Jeffery Hodges
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