baptism

The Greek word for the rite of baptism means ‘to dip in’ or ‘to wash’ but the classical meaning of drowning or overwhelming is found in the LXX (Isa. 21:4), and there is a suggestion of this sense in the NT when Jesus predicts his coming ‘baptism’ of death (Mark 10:38–9) and perhaps when Paul refers to the Israelites being ‘baptized’ in the Red Sea (1 Cor. 10:2). Both these passages are interpretations of Christian baptism; for Paul baptism is compared to Israel's Exodus [[➝ Exodus, the]] through the sea; and in baptism Christians share symbolically in Jesus' death and resurrection; they are buried with him and rise to a new life. So baptism is also regarded as the beginning of a new life (John 3:4–5).
The Christian rite was not without some partial precedents in Judaism and in other religions. Water [[➝ water]] is a natural and vivid source of purification, so Gentiles who wished to become Jews baptized themselves before circumcision. At Qumran there were elaborate rites of purification by water. John the Baptist invited his hearers to repent and to be baptized in the River Jordan, and Jesus accepted baptism at his hands, not for remission of sins (Matt. 3:13–15) but to identify himself with his people. It was the moment when he was commissioned to proclaim the kingdom, the moment when he was adopted as Son of God (Mark 1:10–11).
Baptism immediately assumed the role of rite of initiation into the covenant which had been, and is, the purpose of circumcision in Judaism (Col. 2:11–12). Peter exhorted his audience in Jerusalem to repent and accept baptism (Acts 2:38). An Ethiopian eunuch [[➝ eunuchs]] was baptized, without an elaborate course of instruction, by Philip as soon as there was a handy pool of water (Acts 8:38). It is not recorded that the Ethiopian became a member of a local Christian community ‘but he went on his way rejoicing’, a fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5:22).
It was held that in baptism the gift [[➝ gifts]] of the Spirit [[➝ spirit]] was conferred, as it had been with Jesus (Mark 1:10), and the prerequisite for baptism was faith (Gal. 3:14). Whether the requirement of faith therefore excludes infants from the Christian sacrament [[➝ sacraments]] is much debated; there is no explicit evidence either way in the NT. It is argued that households who were baptized (Acts 16:15, 33) would have included infants; and the parallel with circumcision as a rite of infant initiation points in the same direction.
Archaeological evidence from the early centuries shows that baptism was administered sometimes by submersion or immersion, in which the rite symbolically re-enacted the process of burial and resurrection, but also by affusion from a vessel when water was poured on the candidate's head, just as earth was sprinkled over the corpse at a funeral. There is a similarity of symbolism in both forms of ritual. Paul mentions a practice in his time of baptism ‘on behalf of the dead’ (1 Cor. 15:29). He is referring, perhaps, to those at Corinth who were baptized with a view to being united at the resurrection with their Christian friends who had died.

Dictionary of the Bible.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Baptism — • One of the Seven Sacraments of the Christian Church; frequently called the first sacrament , the door of the sacraments , and the door of the Church Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Baptism     Baptism …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • baptism — BAPTÍSM s.n. Doctrină şi sectă creştină protestantă care consideră că botezul trebuie să fie acordat numai adulţilor creştini ce se căiesc de păcatul originar. – Din fr. baptisme. Trimis de paula, 17.03.2002. Sursa: DEX 98  baptísm s. n. Trimis… …   Dicționar Român

  • Baptism — Baptism: Baptism  альбом словенской индастриал группы «Laibach» Baptism  альбом Ленни Кравица См. такде Баптизм …   Википедия

  • baptism — c.1300, bapteme, from O.Fr. batesme, bapteme (11c., Mod.Fr. baptême), from L. baptismus, from Gk. baptismos, noun of action from baptizein (see BAPTIZE (Cf. baptize)). The s restored in later 14c. Figurative sense is from late 14c. The Anglo… …   Etymology dictionary

  • baptism — ► NOUN ▪ the Christian rite of sprinkling a person with water or immersing them in it, symbolizing purification and admission to the Christian Church. ● baptism of fire Cf. ↑baptism of fire DERIVATIVES baptismal adjective. ORIGIN from Greek… …   English terms dictionary

  • baptism — [bap′tiz΄əm] n. [ME & OFr baptesme < LL(Ec) baptisma, Christian baptism < L, a dipping under < Gr < baptizein: see BAPTIZE] 1. a baptizing or being baptized; specif., the ceremony or sacrament of admitting a person into Christianity… …   English World dictionary

  • Baptism — Bap tism, n. [OE. baptim, baptem, OF. baptesme, batisme, F. bapt[^e]me, L. baptisma, fr. Gr. ba ptisma, fr. bapti zein to baptize, fr. ba ptein to dip in water, akin to baqy s deep, Skr. g[=a]h to dip, bathe, v. i.] The act of baptizing; the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • baptism — index call (title) Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • baptism — [n] church rite; initiation ablution, baptismal, christening, debut, dedication, dunking, immersion, introduction, launching, lustration, purgation, purge, purification, rite of passage, ritual, sanctification, sprinkling; concepts 367,377 …   New thesaurus

  • Baptism — This article is about the Christian religious ceremony. For other uses, see Baptism (disambiguation). Baptism of Neophytes by Masaccio, 15th century, Brancacci Chapel, Florence.[ …   Wikipedia

  • baptism —    At the time of the Reformation, the sacraments, those ceremonial acts that dramatized biblical events even as they served as a sign of God s presence, became a key issue between Roman Catholics and Protestants and among Protestants themselves …   Encyclopedia of Protestantism

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