Baptism in the New Testament (Biblical & Theological by George R.Beasley- Murray


By George R.Beasley- Murray

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16. , 1933, p. 204 f. THE ANTECEDENTS OF CHRISTIAN BAPTISM 23 the plural? Moreover the date of the passage raises a complication. C. for the composition of the book. That suits his view of the time when belief in Gentile uncleanness arose. 1 Such a date would make very difficult the possibility of reference to proselyte baptism, and on Jeremias' view it would rule it out altogether, for there was no call for such an institution, the Gentiles not being regarded as unclean. D. 4 At least it should be admitted that a saying whose significance and origin are so dubious as this has no claim to confidence as a means of determining so complex an issue as that under review.

But the final cleansing and renewal was to be performed by the Messiah in his baptism of Spirit and fire, by a judgment which would also witness the ultimate vindication of his own. 40 BAPTISM IN THE NEW TESTAMENT ing group of Jews is not likely to be accidental; it points to a positive relation between the Baptist and the Covenanters. On the other hand, the differences between them ought not to be minimized. Everything in John's practice and preaching was more radical than that of the Covenanters: the eschatological expectation was more immediate; the call to repentance was more urgent; it was expressed in a once-for-all baptism; the message of warning and offer of the Kingdom hope was addressed to the whole nation and not to a privileged few — hence John could not be contained within a cloister.

36 ff. THE ANTECEDENTS OF CHRISTIAN BAPTISM 41 were moved by the consideration that, as the Fathers were baptized in the desert to offer Covenant Sacrifice, they should receive ablutions thrice daily. Nor indeed was proselyte baptism itself produced by such a motive; the 'explanation' came after the practice, not vice versa. The motives that led to the application of the bath to the Gentiles were quite different from those that prompted the daily ablutions of the Qumran Covenanters. T. Scriptures that John the Baptist appears to have had in mind in his adaptation of the lustrations are connected with the prophetic expectations of divine cleansing, and the refining and judging work of the Messiah, rather than with the typology of Sinai and the ritual of the covenant.

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