Rudolf Otto Questions and Answers

What is ‘the Holy’? How about the ‘numen’?

The Holy is a classification of interpretation and valuation that is distinct to the field of religion. It can be applied to the field of ethics but cannot be derived from ethic and it’s a complex classification containing specific elements that distinguish it from rational (Otto, 1958). It’s also the absolute moral attribute that’s derived from the completeness of moral goodness. ‘numen’ can be described as a state of mind in which one is guided and led by consideration and discussion of the matter until such a point where the numinous in a person begins to force out into the start of life and consciousness.
What are the elements of the numinous?

The elements of the numinous include religious psychology where the creature, directs his mind to deeply-felt moments of religious experience, by remembering emotional moments of their adolescence, the discomforts of indigestion and social feelings. Elements of emotional content such as feelings of gratitude, love, resilience, trust, humble submission, and dedication (Otto, 1958). Another element is the feeling of dependence before an overpowering and mighty full creature, a character that can only be felt but not expressed verbally. The element of Awfulness can be described as where man cannot fear God perfectly and that the natural man is unable to feel ordinary fear in the real world (Otto, 1958). There’s also the element of majesty where man has the feeling of abasement of being ash and dust and this forms the basis of religious humility. The element of urgency of the numinous object is a vigorous and living factor that can be seen in the burning fire of love. This burning fire of love has so much strength that becomes unbearable for the mystic that they beg for the intensity of the fire to be reduced.



Otto, R. (1958). The idea of the holy (Vol. 14). Oxford University Press.



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