Lenten Scripture Study: Scott Hahn Explains, ‘What Is Holiness?’

Hahn’s new Lenten series is available free of charge from the St. Paul Center.

Benjamin West, “Joshua Passing the River Jordan with the Ark of the Covenant,” 1800
Benjamin West, “Joshua Passing the River Jordan with the Ark of the Covenant,” 1800 (photo: Public Domain)

If delving deeper into Scripture, as recommended by Pope Francis, is on your Lenten itinerary, theologian Scott Hahn’s new Bible study can aid your efforts.

The free streaming 12-part series — “Holy Is His Name” — will aid the faithful in better understanding holiness. The episodes, which are under 30 minutes each, begin with some background and then focus on the Book of Genesis.

In “The Genesis of Holiness,” the first episode, Hahn reflects on how holy lives, such as those of the saints, reflect holiness.

But what does that really mean? “Is it the same thing as goodness or courage of philanthropy?” Hahn asks.

“It isn’t so simple.”

He proceeds to discuss the main aim of the Second Vatican Council — “the universal call to holiness” — and then quotes from the Council’s Lumen Gentium:

[A]ll the faithful of Christ are invited to strive for the holiness and perfection of their own proper state. Indeed, they have an obligation to so strive.

Yet the Council didn’t define “holiness,” Hahn says. However, he goes on, “The theme of holiness has been with God’s people from the beginning of recorded history.”

He explains how the Catechism hints at what the “holiness of God” means.

Then he briefly relates his conversion to Christ as a teen, which prompted his study of the Bible as a Protestant — including fervent searching for who God is, the “beginning of a religious quest.”

“I wanted to know not just what holiness did. I wanted to know what it was. What was it about God?”

Among the definitions he found in a scriptural dictionary was “signature of the divine.”

Turning to Scripture, he read of Moses and the holy ground around the burning bush — an effect and symbol of the presence of God.

But first, there is the story of creation. Hahn explains how “God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it,” explaining how Kadosh — meaning “inhabited by God” (that is, holiness) — is mentioned only here in Genesis. He also explains the Hebrew word for seven, shevah, as it relates to the blessing of the seventh day and how God rested.

Hahn, who has long spoken and written about God’s covenants in the Old and New Testaments, underscores how “God shared his holiness with creation” ahead of the Fall.

Learn all of this — and more — in the first episode.

Moving ahead to Episode 2, “The Holiness Explosion” expands on the “biblical understanding of God’s holiness.”

Hahn explains how “holy” is characteristic of the Book of Exodus, starting with Moses and the burning bush.

After holy ground comes holy objects — including ritual bowls, garments and incense — denoting what is “set apart for the service of God.”

The sanctuary, of course, is where “God could be found” as God renewed his covenant, post-sin, with the holy nation.

Hahn explains how the Mosaic Law focuses on right worship — essentially instructing the people how “to remain holy.”

Sharing the Sabbath with God is highlighted in this episode, as well as Israel’s need to be called back to God.

Above all, Hahn explains, “Worship calls the assembly’s attention to the Giver.”

Throughout Exodus, holiness is visible, Hahn underlines, noting that the “Covenant at Sinai set Israel apart.”

RELATED READING: Holy Is His Name: The Transforming Power of God’s Holiness in Scripture

A scene from Scott Hahn’s new Bible study, ‘Holy Is His Name.’

Dr. Scott Hahn and Amy Smith on Lent 2023 (Feb. 25)

Lent is here and Catholics across the globe are turning to prayer, fasting and works of charity in order to more fully unite themselves to Christ. The National Catholic Register provides resources to aid this spiritual journey. Dr. Scott Hahn joins us this week to discuss his new free Bible study, Holy Is His Name. Then the Register’s associate editor Amy Smith gives us highlights of other Lenten materials.