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SPRINKLING IS SCRIPTURAL
A Reply to the Baptist Adamthwaite's "Baptism is Immersion!"
by Rev. Prof. Dr. Francis Nigel Lee
(M.A., M.Soc.Sc., Th.D., Ph.D., D.Min., D.Ed., LL.D.)
"Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary; but baptism is rightly administered by pouring or sprinkling water upon the person.... It be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance!" Westminster Confession, 28:3-5.
"Baptism is Immersion!" Such is the triumphant title of a recent archaeological article. It appeared from the hand of the noted Australian Baptist Scholar, Murray Adamthwaite.
That article has now gone forth into all the world. For it was published in Britain, and circulated internationally. See the May-June 1989 issue of the noted magazine Reformation Today.
That magazine -- itself a noted vehicle for Baptistic propaganda -- has had a past history of regularly extolling immersionism. The above-mentioned recent issue, has compounded this tendency.
Yet the Holy Bible does not suggest the ceremony of submersion. Instead, ever since the creation and fall of man, it repeatedly teaches the symbolic cleansing of people (as well as of things) -- by pouring or sprinkling!
* * * * * * *
What, in Sacred Scripture, is the significance of sprink-ling? From small spring-s of liquid such as running water, it suggests the dripping of drops of rain-like water-y refreshment. This is clearly taught in both the Older and the Newer Testaments of the infallible Word of God.
Jesus Himself upholds every jot and tittle in the Older Testament -- calling it 'the Law and the Prophets.' Mt 5:17. In the Law, we frequently find a very refreshing "outpouring" of liquid -- while sacrificing or cleansing. Also in the Prophets, the various non-submersionistic 'sprinkling' passages are all rich in symbolism.
For these Prophets not only point backward -- to the Law. They also point forward -- to the Saviour! Thus, they actually predict even Christian baptism. That sign and seal, instituted after Christ's incarnation, engrafts His elect into His Church -- and thus symbolically refreshes them.
Also in the Newer Testament -- there are many relevant 'baptismal passages.' They, taken together, clearly preclude total submersion. Indeed, they rather establish precisely sprinkling as the sole Scriptural mode.
* * * * * * *
First of all, we would draw attention to the vital Newer Testament passage Heb 9:10-22. This refers to the various baptisms of the Older Testament (v 10). Such baptisms include "sprinkling the unclean" -- even with "the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer" (v 13).
Moses himself performed such 'baptisms' (see I Cor 10:2). Indeed, "he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book and all the people" (v 19). Also, "he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry" (v 21). For "without shedding of blood, is no remission" of sin (v 22)!
Now Heb 9:10 speaks of the "divers washings" alias the 'various baptisms' (or diaphorois baptismois) of the Older Testament's "ordinances." Those "ordinances" probably go back even to the various Pre-Mosaic practices which then and thereafter foreshadowed Christian baptism.
Such foreshadows would include the primordial sprinkling with the blood of Abel -- and also the rainwater, during Noah's flood. More demonstrably, however, the "ordinances" mentioned in Heb 9:10f clearly focus on the various Mosaic 'baptisms.' These commenced with Moses and thus no later than 1440 B.C. Yet they thereafter continued -- right down to the very death of Christ Himself!
Such 'baptismal washings' included those portrayed by the blood of animal sacrifices -- which Moses "sprinkled on the altar." Further, they also included the symbolical sprinkling of those previously suffering from leprosy.
God further said to Moses concerning even the Levites: "Sprinkle water of purifying upon them!" Indeed, we are also told that an uncleansed person defiled by a corpse "shall be cut off from Israel -- because the water of separation was not sprinkled upon him."
As regards the latter passage, even the Baptist Adamthwaite calls it: "the sprinkling ritual." He concedes that this unclean person had to be purified not by immersion -- but by sprinkling!
Indeed, Adamthwaite specifically states that the verses "Hebrews 9:13" and "19" -- both "refer" to "Num 19:6" and Num 19 verses "17-18." For he rightly remarks -- emphases ours -- that "this is indeed the sprinkling ritual, using...water."10
* * * * * * *
Here is a summary of the "sprinkling" passages in the Mosaic writings. Right after the fall, the shed blood of Abel pointed forward to sprinkling with the better blood of Jesus. Later, so too did the rainwater of Noah's flood -- and the blood-drops of the animal sacrifices on his altar. Similarly, also Jacob poured out oil and drink offerings -- when he too sacrificed to the Lord.
Moses himself poured water on the ground and sprinkled ashes toward heaven -- so as to withhold rain from being "poured upon the earth." He sprinkled the blood of the Passover lamb upon the doorposts of God's people. Indeed, the Israelites were actually baptized unto Moses 'from a cloud' -- while they were crossing the Red Sea on dry land!
Moses further sprinkled blood on the altar; on the book; and on the people. He also anointed the head of Aaron with oil; poured blood on the altar; and sprinkled both oil and blood upon the priests.
These priests were to pour out only regular drink offerings. They were to sprinkle blood upon God's altar -- and upon other objects in the sanctuary. Further, they were to pour oil upon the sacrifices -- and to pour out the left-over ashes. They were also to sprinkle healed lepers with blood and with oil -- and to sprinkle the houses of those lepers, with blood.
Ancient Israelitic priests were also to sprinkle on the day of atonement -- in order to cleanse the people of God. They were further to sprinkle the water of purification upon the Levites.
All those defiled by corpses, were to be cleansed -- precisely by sprinkling.. Also, the blood from sacrifices was to be poured out -- like water.
* * * * * * *
After the Law, comes the rest of the Older Testament. Here it should be noted that the priests ebapheesan -- alias 'bapt-ed' -- in the Jordan. This they did when they, and all the Israelites, crossed it on dry land. They did so -- just as they had previously crossed the Red Sea -- totally without submersion. On that earlier occasion, while following Moses, they were all "baptized" there "from a cloud" -- namely when "the clouds poured out water."16
David prayed to be washed from his iniquity -- by being purged through sprinkling.. Indeed, David's psalmist Asaph stated that the clouds had "poured out water" -- when the people had been 'baptized unto Moses.' That had occurred when the Lord God had previously led His people through the Red Sea -- on dry land.
Solomon predicted that God would one day pour out the Name of His Anointed. Then, God would further pour out His Spirit -- at the baptism with the Holy Ghost. That would take place when God Himself would "come down like rain" -- and like "showers that water the earth."
The same things was predicted also by Hosea: "Let us return to the Lord! ... After two days, He will revive us! On the third day, He will raise us up -- and we shall live before His sight! Then we shall know -- if we follow on to acknowledge the Lord. His going forth has been prepared as the morning. Then He shall come to us as the rain -- as the latter and former rain to the earth."
Elijah gave a preview of the work of his later successor John the Baptizer -- alias 'John the Presbyterian' (but not 'John the Baptist')! Elijah did this, when he thrice poured water on his sacrifice -- just before it rained.
His student Elisha told Naaman the leper to be baptized. Indeed, Naaman was commanded to receive this symbolic cleansing -- apparently by being sprinkled in the Jordan.
* * * * * * *
Isaiah predicted that the suffering Christ would pour out His own soul. At that time, He would sprinkle blood on His garments. As a result, in terms of the Great Commission, He would sprinkle many nations. To expedite this, however, He would first baptize His Church with His Spirit.
Hence, Isaiah further predicted the baptismal outpouring of the Holy Ghost. "The Spirit," he explained, shall "be poured upon us from on high." Through Isaiah, God Himself declared: "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty.... I will pour My Spirit upon your seed, and My blessing upon your offspring.... Drip down, you heavens, from above; and let the skies pour down righteousness!"
Ezekiel was commanded by God to "set a mark upon the foreheads of the men" who repudiated the abominations of the ungodly. Upon the latter, the Lord would soon be "pouring out" His fury. Ezekiel also predicted that God would sprinkle clean water on His people -- at the time He would give them a new heart. That was to occur when He would pour out His Spirit.
Daniel explained that Nebuchadnezzar would be baptized by the dew. He also predicted that, centuries later, the Messiah Himself would be anointed -- namely at His 'Christ-ic' baptism.
Joel foresaw that God would send His rain -- even upon sucklings! That was to take place especially when He would pour out His Spirit -- at the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
Zechariah predicted this outpouring would occur at the opening of a Fountain. This would happen just after the piercing of the Messiah. For "in the time of the latter rain...the Lord shall make bright clouds and give...showers of rain.."37
Finally, Malachi indicated that the Messiah would purify His people -- and pour out His blessings. He also indicated that this would occur after Jehovah's messenger (John the Baptizer) had come as a second Elijah -- preaching the baptism of repentance!
* * * * * * *
In his famous Biblical Thesaurus, Rev. Dr. Hellmuth -- the well-known Professor of Hebrew and Rabbinical Literature -- discusses the meaning of the Hebrew word taabal in the Old Testament. There, he renders it: "dabble, i.e. wetting by little dips or by sprinkling."
Also Dr. Robert Young offers a similar definition of this Biblical word taabal. In his famous Analytical Concordance to the Holy Bible, he renders it: "to moisten" or "besprinkle."
Now this Hebrew word taabal is often translated either as baptein, or as its cognate baptizein. Indeed, taabal is so rendered even in the LXX. That latter work, reputedly compiled by some 'seventy' erudite scholars, is the (270 B.C.) old Greek Septuagint translation of the ancient Hebrew Scriptures.
Those many eminent Hebrews who then produced the Septuagint, all professed the one true religion of Ancient Israel! It is thus very significant that precisely they often used the word baptein -- as their own Greek translation of the Hebrew word taabal.
They did so in many places of Holy Scripture. In some of those places, the word taabal cannot possibly imply even partial im-mersion. Still less can it there imply complete sub-mersion! Nowhere is this clearer than in the Septuagint's translation of Josh 3:15f.
For there, we are told that when the priests came to the Jordan river -- they 'bapt-ed.' The Hebrew here has: ni-tebel-oo. The Greek Septuagint renders this: e-baph-eesan -- 'they bapt-ed.' However, we are also told that the Israelites at that very time "passed through" the Jordan -- "on dry ground." Consequently, they 'bapt-ed' without being submersed!
In almost all Bible texts where it occurs, taabal is consistently associated with dyeing or painting or pouring or sprinkling. Take, for example, Ezk 23:15. There, Ezekiel uses the phrase "dyed attire" -- alias the 'painted turbans' which people then often wore "upon their heads." Now "dyed" translates the Hebrew word tebuul-iym -- derived from taabal. Rightly, the Septuagint itself renders this derivative -- bapt-os!
The word baptein itself -- which frequently translates taabal -- often means "to dye." Indeed, the latter is frequently associated with painting -- by way of sprinkling. Compare too the frequentative baptizein (in Isa 21:4) -- with the word "sprinkle" in Isa 52:15 and 63:3. With the two latter verses, also compare Mt 28:19's "baptize" and Rev 19:13-16's "vesture dyed with blood" (or himation bebammenon haimati). There, "baptize" and "dyed" translate derivatives from baptizein and baptein!
* * * * * * *
We have seen that the Septuagint often uses the Greek word baptein to translate the Hebrew word taabal. However, it also uses baptein -- often to translate several other Hebrew words tool. Thus, baptein is used to translate boo, (or "put") at Lev. 11:32f.
Baptein is again used to translate the Hebrew word maachats -- at Ps 68:23f. In that context, this implies 'sprinkled' or 'poured out' or 'shed forth.' For just compare Ps 68:18f -- with Acts 1:4-5; 2:1-3; 2:16-18; 2:33 & Eph. 4:4-8f!
Indeed, the Septuagint again uses baptein to translate the Aramaic word yitsetabba' -- at Dan 5:21. There, the latter verb is translated moistened or "[made] wet" -- namely from or by or "with the dew." This is "the dew of heaven" -- the dew from above!
Baptein is further used in the Septuagint's version even of the Apocrypha. The latter was written between the end of the Older and before the beginning of the Newer Testament. Though not infallible like Holy Scripture, the Apocrypha is nevertheless instructive.
Thus, in II Maccabees 1:19-36, we are told that Neemias (alias the great Hebrew leader Nehemiah) commanded that water "be drawn up." The latter phrase translates apo baphantas (from the verb baptein). Nehemiah is said to have done this -- so that the priests could "sprinkle." Indeed -- so that they could "sprinkle with the water" (errhanai tooi hudati).
* * * * * * *
Now in addition to this relatively common Greek word baptein -- the Septuagint translators also employed its rarer but cognate frequentative baptizein. The latter too they utilized -- to translate the Hebrew word taabal, alias the verb associated with pouring or sprinkling. In Holy Scripture, they did so: at Job 9:31; at II Kgs 5:14 (cf. Lev 14:3-7); and at Isa 21:4.
The usage of baptizein at II Kgs 5:14, warrants special attention. The Word of God elsewhere declares that lepers were to be cleansed by sevenfold sprinkling. Preaching this very Word of God, the prophet Elisha therefore commanded Naaman the leper to "be baptized seven times in the Jordan."
Here, the word "baptized" translates the Hebrew wayyi-tebol. Significantly, the Pre-Christian Septuagint here renders this form of the well-known Hebrew verb taabal -- as ebaptisato!
Baptizein is also used in the Septuagint's version even of the Apocrypha. There, in Judith 12:7f, the Septuagint again has ebaptizeto. For it states that Judith "washed herself" -- namely "at the fountain of water in the camp." This too probably implies sprinkling.
Furthermore, the Septuagint has baptizomenos at Sirach 31:25 (34:30). There, it describes the man who "washes himself because of a dead body." Here again, total submersion seems precluded. Precisely sprinkling is once more indicated.
Now in this regard, the great linguist and theologian Rev. Prof. Dr. Gerhard Kittel makes an acute observation -- in his very famous Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. There, he points out that some of the later Pagan Greek meanings of baptein and baptizein -- "the meanings 'to drown,' 'to sink' or 'to perish' -- seem to be quite absent[!] from the Hebrew and Aramaic taabal, and therefore from baptizein in Jewish Greek" before the birth of the Christian Church.
Here, Kittel is quite correct -- writing about "Jewish Greek" in Pre-Christian times. In Post-Patristic times, however, we sadly also find -- the increasingly sacramentalistic concept of total submersion. That -- deriving from the 'magical' world of Greek and Oriental Paganism -- then unfolded in hellenized Post-Christian Judaism; in mediaeval Sub-Christian Ritualism; and also among maverick Modern Baptists.
However, that concept is unknown in the Older Testament! It is also, as Kittel observes, "quite absent" in the intertestamentary Hebrews' Septuagintic use of the words baptein and baptizein. Indeed, it is by and large quite conspicuously absent from the writings even of Post-Maccabean Judaism (at least until after 100 A.D.).
* * * * * * *
So taabal is the Biblical Hebrew word associated with painting and pouring and sprinkling. In the (280 B.C.) Greek Septuagint, this word was often translated baptein and baptizein. These translations enable us rightly to understand the ancient meaning of an important derivative from taabal -- the noun tebiylah.
This word tebiylah was used to describe the intertestamentary 'baptism' of proselytes (alias converts to Judaism). Thereby, catechised Gentiles and their entire families were incorporated into the Commonwealth of Ancient Israel.
Only later below will we further scrutinize this 'proselyte baptism' tebiylah. At the moment, we merely wish to establish all the "pouring" and "sprinkling" connections between the words taabal and tebiylah on the one hand -- and the words baptein and baptizein on the other.
* * * * * * *
Now the Baptist Murray Adamthwaite's article hardly touches on the 'once and for all' tebiylah -- of intertestamentary proselyte baptism (viz. of Gentiles into Judaism). Instead, it is largely devoted to the miqvah (or 'pool of running water') used specifically by Jews: for the purpose of ritually cleansing themselves. This they did not 'once and for all -- but repeatedly.
Adamthwaite discusses the miqvah -- of specifically Intertestamentary Judaism. He traces its trail especially from around B.C. 200, until about 30 A.D. He sees this not even as a partial immersion, but as a total submersion. Why?
Because he pictures it largely from his own misunderstanding of the permutable perspective thereon -- given in Post-Christian (if not Anti-Christian) Talmudism! Indeed, he draws particularly on the later and uninspired Jewish Mishnah -- and on modern Israeli archaeologists -- in his own imaginative attempt to understand the miqvah.
He then further sadly misconceives the intertestamentary repetitive miqvah of Jews themselves -- to be the linear ancestor of the 'once and for all' proselyte baptism tebiylah of Gentiles into Judaism. Predictably, he then wrongly takes the different institution of Johannine and apostolic baptism -- to be the direct descendant of both the miqvah and the tebiylah.
Adamthwaite asks: "Can archeology decide an issue of doctrine?" To this, his own boldfaced query, he himself then replies: "Archeology, as a handmaid to historical study, can so often provide valuable information on that historical background.... It will inevitably influence and illuminate our understanding of a given text....
"Christianity is an historical revelation, and [it] comes into a real historical and geographical context.... This context will have continuity with both preceding and subsequent history: the Jewish precursors and the early sub-apostolic period of the Church respectively.... Careful exegesis is done in the light of Jewish sources and the excavations."
To Adamthwaite, apparently the latter is the true light. It is not the light of God's Holy Word -- nor the light of 'Christ The Light' of the world! Instead, it is "the light of Jewish sources and the excavations."
* * * * * * *
As Adamthwaite alleges: "The Jewish Mishnah (compiled AD200)...contains ten chapters of stipulations regarding the miqveh or ritual immersion.... The Mishnah and Jewish practice accordingly persisted throughout the centuries, but until recently there was no evidence of the early use of these pools.... Then came the discovery of a fine example of Yigael Yadin's mid-1960 excavations at Masada (thus dating it prior to AD 70); also several examples of Qumran dating back to the foundation of that community, c. 200 BC."48
Notice that Murray Adamthwaite here not at all attempts to explain why the Hebrew equivalents of the words baptein and baptizein were used -- priorly! For he is silent about the repeated non-immersionistic employment of these words -- in the Older Testament of Holy Scripture (long before his "200 BC")!48 Yet, as already seen above, these meanings can readily be established from the (270 B.C.) old Greek Septuagint translation of the Older Testament -- which latter itself started being inscripturated from no later than 1400 B.C.
Nor does the Baptist Murray Adamthwaite's article deal with Peter's inspired use of the word baptisma. Yet that apostle describes the very first Older Testament 'type' or prefigurement of the Newer Testament's "antitype" or baptismal fulfilment.
That prefigurement of baptism -- was the downpour on the roof of the ark, during the Great Flood before 2300 B.C. By sprinkling, that downpour right then and there preserved the godly Noah's entire family. Total submersion was then experienced only by the unbaptized ungodly -- outside the ark!
Nor does the Baptist Adamthwaite's article address the inspired use of the word ebaptisanto by Paul. That apostle uses that very word to describe the sprinkling of Ancient Israel's Mosaic "fathers" -- together with their infants. It occurred when they all passed through the Red Sea on dry ground.
That baptismal sprinkling of the people of God, explains Paul, occurred "under the cloud" and by or "in the cloud." That was when "the clouds poured out water" upon the Israelites, around 1440 B.C. That baptismal sprinkling happened shortly before God's people's unbaptized wicked enemies -- were themselves totally submersed in the Red Sea!
* * * * * * *
Frankly, the Baptist Murray Adamthwaite is unable to ground his post-biblical submersionism in the writings of Moses around 1440f B.C. However, he does toy with grounding in I Kgs 7:26 (around B.C. 930) -- the Post-Mosaic miqvah, alias the 'pool of running water' known to Later Judaism. Indeed, Adamthwaite claims that "its origin may extend back to Solomon's Temple with its huge bronze laver containing forty-five thousand litres."
However, in I Kgs 7:26f (cf. II Chr 4:2-6) the molten sea was used as the vessel where the priests washed themselves. It was located alongside the ten lavers, where the sacrificial animals were washed.
There was no question of 'unclean' Gentile proselytes to Judaism being 'washed' or 'baptized' at any of those bowls. For the latter were adjacent to the Holy Place itself! Yet Adamthwaite gives as authority for a possibly Solomonic origin of the 'Miqveh': Encyclopaedia Judaica, col. 1511."
Now Adamthwaite here misquotes the modern Judaica! There, we find no such reference to the 'Miqveh' -- in "col. 1511." Probably, his article had intended to refer instead to column 1542 (in Volume Eleven).
Elsewhere, the Baptist Adamthwaite accuses the Presbyterian Jay Adams of lacking "careful scholarship" -- and of making "wild claims" which he alleges "are palpably false." Frankly -- as seen from his own misquotation of the Judaica -- it is Murray Adamthwaite himself who here lacks careful scholarship!
All attempts to ground Baptistic immersionism in the (850f B.C.) useful example of Naaman, are also doomed to failure. It is true that Naaman then washed himself in the Jordan seven times -- and that the Septuagint at II Kgs 5:14 here has ebaptisato. Yet Baptists do not thus 'wash' themselves -- as Naaman did. Nor are they thus washed repeatedly -- as he was.
Nor was Naaman then submersed -- not even once. For, as a leper, Naaman was here cleansed specifically by sprinkling! Thus: Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Cyril.
The last usages of baptein in the Older Testament, occur at Dan 4:30-33 and 5:21 -- around 580 to 540 B.C. Understandably, these references too are carefully avoided by the Baptist Adamthwaite. For as we shall next see, they clearly preclude submersion -- and presuppose sprinkling by dewdrops.
Only after 540 B.C., were the meanings of both baptein and its cognate baptizein sometimes changed. However, that was done not in the Older Testament of God's Holy Word -- but in the later unholy literature of Pagan Greece! This is what we should next survey -- before later scrutinizing Adamthwaite's intertestamentary theories (from 200 B.C. onward).
* * * * * * *
In Pagan Greece as elsewhere, especially after the (circa 580f B.C.) 'baptismal' prophecies of Daniel toward the end of Old Testament times, there was indeed a very degenerative transition. That progressive or rather cumulative change was one which swung away from Biblical sprinkling -- and toward unbiblical submersion. The bad transition was from the Older Testament's pure concept of the word baptein -- toward the later and impure concept of that word as understood by the Pagan Greek Hellenes.
This in turn further yielded to the still later hellenistic concept of the word baptein.. That impure concept then took root -- until the purifying incarnation and baptismal anointing of Jesus Christ. For He it was Who -- in both precept and example – then restored even the frequentative baptizein to its more ancient meaning.
According to the infallible Word of God, the (580f B.C.) relevant writings of the prophet Daniel shed light on this. They help explain how the original Biblical meaning of the word baptein -- 'sprinkling' among the Ancient Israelites! -- degenerated into its later unbiblical meaning of 'immersion' among Greek-speaking Pagans.
Daniel predicted how, when Jesus actually came, He would certainly "finish the transgression" and "make an end of sins" and "make reconciliation for iniquity." For God would then "anoint the most Holy One" -- namely at 'Christ' the Anointed One's own baptism. Dan 9:24. Then, Jesus would be anointed, baptismally, precisely by sprinkling. Thereby -- pointing forward to the even more important sprinkling with His blood on Calvary -- He repudiated degenerate pagan submersions and restored Biblical sprinkling.
* * * * * * *
Already around 580 B.C., Daniel explained a dream of the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. The King had dreamed that a 'watcher' came from heaven, and cut down a huge tree. Its stump, however, would then "be moistened with the dew of heaven" -- after which new growth would recur. Later, the (270 B.C.) old Greek Septuagint here uses koitastheesetai -- to translate the word "moistened." The latter word means: "to put into bed"; "to put to sleep"; "to cause to rest."
When none of the wise men of his kingdom could interpret the dream for him, Nebuchadnezzar asked Daniel to do so. Explained that prophet: "The dream is for them that hate you, and the interpretation of it for your enemies! The tree...is you, O king.... The king saw a watcher...coming down from heaven and saying, 'Hew the tree down...and let it lie out with the dew of heaven!'"
This latter phrase is well translated by the old Greek Septuagint. It uses the word aulistheesetai. That means: "to lie out at night"; "to lodge"; "to live." The verb is derived from the noun aulee: 'an open courtyard.' Daniel's phrase thus means to sleep outside in the open -- while getting bedewed (Aramaic yitsetabba'). Compare too Dan. 4:15.
Daniel continued: "This is the interpretation, O king! .... They shall drive you away from mankind.... They shall moisten you with the dew of heaven...until you acknowledge that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men!" Here, the Greek Septuagint translates the relevant phrase: "shall be bedewed from the dew of the heaven."
Now the above prediction came to pass –and in full! For Nebuchadnezzar later repented. Then (around 570 B.C.), he sent an account of these events "to all people, nations and languages that dwell in all the earth.." Even if "the earth" here means only the world known to Babylon -- it must for that very reason have included also Ancient Greece.
Hence, Nebuchadnezzar would have informed even the sixth century Greeks -- as to how he had dreamed that "the dew of heaven" would "moisten" him. In that very announcement, he also reported how the prophet Daniel had explained the meaning of the angel's words -- the words that the king would be moistened with the dew. Also, Nebuchadnezzar further noted how Daniel himself had predicted he would then be moistened with the dew -- until that king would acknowledge the Most High God!
* * * * * * *
Continuing his message to all the nations, the king next included an account of how in fact "his body had been moistened with the dew" -- before he had later repented. Here, the Greek Septuagint translates this word "moistened" as ebaphee" ( 'baptized'). Ebaphee means: "it became dabbed" or "dabbled." From this word, our sacramental term "baptized" has been derived. Total submersion and even partial immersion are quite precluded here. For such modes are altogether foreign to Nebuchadnezzar's being dabbled with dewdrops.
Through this international message, even the Ancient Greeks were soon informed of Nebuchadnezzar's dew-like 'baptism' and repentance -- around 580 B.C. They too then invested this word baptein with a religious content -- yet which, being pagans, they soon perverted! Meantime, even around 540f B.C., Daniel himself reminded also Nebuchadnezzar's proud successor Belshazzar -- as to just how God had humbled his father.
Warned Daniel: "O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father a kingdom.... But when his heart became lifted up and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed.... He was driven from the sons of men.... His body was moistened with the dew of heaven -- until he acknowledged that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men!"
Here again, precisely as at the previous time, the Greek Septuagint translates the word "moistened" as ebaphee. Doubtless, news also of Daniel's intimation to King Belshazzar would have reached even the Ancient Greeks. Indeed, after the Medo-Persians soon overthrew Belshazzar, Darius appointed Daniel (around 538 B.C.) as one of the three Chief Presidents over the 120 Provinces of his Persian Empire.
Now Daniel had already previously made predictive statements about Greece also to Belshazzar -- and even to his father Nebuchadnezzar. As already noted, some of those statements even foreshadowed the later baptismal anointing of the Saviour of the world -- Jesus Christ Himself. Indeed, it is almost certain that news of this too soon reached even the Ancient Greeks.
That would then become ingrained into their perverted and perverting culture -- even in the Hellenic Period from about 460 B.C. onward. This was especially the case -- both "importingly" and "exportingly" -- during the international 'Hellenistic Age' after the time of the (B.C. 335f) Alexander the Great.
* * * * * * *
We have already seen that, according to the inspired apostles Peter and Paul, both the inspired Noah and the inspired Moses anciently understood 'baptism' to imply not submersion but sprinkling. However, uninspired Baptistic writers rarely discuss this earliest (Noachic) concept of Biblical 'baptism' by sprinkling. Instead, they often prefer to discuss the Post-Mosaic and uninspired later usages of the word baptizein by Pagan Greeks -- sometimes even with perverted meanings.
Indeed, we have yet to encounter a Baptistic writing which attempts to interpret the fallible Pagan Greek meanings of baptein and baptizein -- in the light of their meaning in the Holy Bible. The true meaning of these Biblical words should be ascertained only from the infallible Word of God itself. Yet all Baptistic writings we have ever seen -- have ended up defining the meaning of the Biblical words baptein and baptizein -- against the background of their perverted secular usage in Pagan Greek literature!
In this monograph, however, we will do the exact opposite. We will evaluate the perverted usage of these words baptein and baptizein in Pagan Greek literature -- in the clear light of their untarnished meanings in infallible Holy Writ. For to Christians, it should be undeniable that it is the earlier Biblical concepts of taabal and also of baptein and baptizein which somewhat influenced even later paganism. Not the other way round!
This Biblical influence of these words and concepts, infiltrated even Pagan Greece. It did so perhaps as early as Late-Mosaic times around 1400 B.C. -- and certainly no later than the days of Daniel in 580-40f B.C.
As regards the word baptein, its earliest known incidence in secular literature is in the 'legendary' Homer. This cannot be dated earlier than 1160 B.C., and it probably dates from only many centuries later. The word is also found in Aeschylus -- and thus definitely by 460 B.C.
Even in this secular literature, such Greek words were often used metaphorically. They were also often used with the technical meaning of "to dye" -- by painting or by affusion alias sprinkling. Indeed, they were also even used to express the paganizing or paganized religious rites of various heathen 'sprinklings.'
* * * * * * *
In his Odyssey even ancient 'Homer' described how "Telemachus, washing his hands with sea-water, prayed." He also related how "Penelope, sprinkling herself, prayed." Homer in the same work described how, with "water in a basin," Nestor performed the rite of "hand-washing" -- and also that of "sprinkling the meal." Also in the Iliad, Homer wrote of how an old man bade his servant to "pour pure water on his hands."
Interestingly, some of these Homeric passages were later cited by the Early Church Father Clement of Alexandria (195 A.D.). And he, together with the rest of the Early Church Fathers, himself practised baptism by sprinkling.
Clement claimed these Homeric usages had been derived by the Greeks from "a custom of the Jews." Indeed, they show how -- whenever the Pagan Grecian "laws are consistent with truth" -- the Ancient Greeks are "indebted to the Hebrews themselves." For such age-old Grecian customs, insisted Clement, had -- before their later pagan perversion! -- been "handed down from Moses to the poets" of Greece!
According to Clement, these primordial Hebraic sprinkling customs antedated even Moses! Around 1500 B.C., he was discovered -- when still a baby -- by an Egyptian princess. This occurred while she was seeking to follow the ablutionary customs of the Hebrews then resident in Egypt. For she had come "to the river, to wash and sprinkle herself." And such sprinkling -- claimed Clement! -- was "the image of baptism."
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In 416 B.C., the Thracian playwright Eupolis wrote a comedy called Baptai. This was not about anyone being submersed -- but about female "Dyers." Then, around 408 B.C., we encounter the great Euripides's famous statement naus...ebapsen -- "the ship...dipped." Because of this dipping, the ship does indeed seem to have sunk. Yet it apparently did so -- solely as a result of being powerfully sprinkled by water from the waves.
For the very same Euripides also had the priestess of Delphi say: "You Delphian ministers..., go to the silvery eddies of Castalia! ... Having sprinkled yourselves with its pure dews, approach the temples.... But I will cleanse...and water the ground with moist drops ... I will sprinkle the stream...which the eddies of Castalia distil, by sprinkling the dewy water ... I will go, and with my golden pitcher put water into the sprinkling-vessels."
Indeed, in his Iphigenia in Tauris, Euripides had the heroine say: "I shall sprinkle around your head the lustral waters.... I would fain lave them with pure cleansings.... The [dew of the] sea washes away all the ills of men!"
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At about the same time Malachi was predicting the pouring purifications of John the Baptizer and also of Jesus Christ Himself, the young Plato became a pupil of Socrates in 407 B.C. Plato later recorded even how his teacher had referred to "purificatory rites...and likewise...the lustrations...and the sprinklings...and washings."
Plato also used the word "baptized" with the added meaning of "having been made drunk" -- through inebriating liquid being poured down one's throat! He then also employed the word baptizomenon -- in the sense of constantly being showered with questions.
After Plato, came the great Greek playwright Menander. He died circa 291 B.C. (or some two decades before the Septuagint was inscripturated). Menander wrote about Phidias: "Let women wipe you, and bring water from three fountains.... Then, sprinkle yourself! Each one is pure, who is conscious of no sin."
Significantly, this excerpt was later cited (around 195 A.D.) by the Early Christian Church Father Clement of Alexandria. For he, an advocate of Christian baptism by Scriptural sprinkling, was attempting to show how God had 'pre-evangelistically' not left Himself without witness even among the ancient heathen. Indeed, God did this -- also in giving the heathen 'rain from heaven.' Acts 14:11-17.
There is also a famous (163f B.C.) Greek Papyrus, now preserved in the Louvre Museum. It employs a word meaning "dyed" -- 'bapta' (the past participle of baptein) -- in the expression "coloured clothes."
Even more significantly, the same verb baptein was again so used -- in the Late-Hellenistic Greek of the famous Jewish historian Flavius Josephus. He wrote around 75 A.D., -- and thus during the Apostolic Age itself.
By baptein, he means: "to dye." In fact, Josephus uses the word in this sense only.. He also employs even the cognate word bamma -- with the similar meaning of "dyed material" (alias painted fabric).
So much, then, in secular literature, as to the word baptein -- and its close cognate bamma. We next turn to the secular use of the similar but apparently frequentative word baptizein.
* * * * * * *
Not baptein but its frequentative baptizein is the regular word later used in the Newer Testament to describe Christian baptism. However, its earliest secularized usage outside of the Older Testament itself -- is only from the Late-Hellenic and Early-Hellenistic times onward.
The first such secularized occurrences, are in Hippocrates and Plato -- circa 400 to 350 B.C. Baptizein -- in the sense of "to bathe" or "to wash" -- is to be found only occasionally in Hellenism. There, "to billow so as to perish" seems to be its general meaning. Thus, even the (75f A.D.) Greek-speaking Jew Josephus has: "to baptize the ship"; and "the wave baptized the ships."
In the Latin writings of Vergil about the Greek hero Aeneas, we are again reminded of Dan. 5:21's familiar phrase: "baptized with the dew." Thus, before his own death in 19 A.D., Vergil wrote that Aeneas's helmsman Palinurus was baptized into sleep -- by sprinkling his head with dew.. Further: "Sleep took branches drenched in Lethe's dew...over the helmsman's head.."
Vergil also wrote that, at the gates of the Cyclops, "Aeneas springs forward" and "sprinkles his body with fresh water." Indeed, in his Georgics, Vergil wrote of how Cyrene "thrice sprinkled the glowing hearth-fire with the liquid nectar."
The (42 A.D.) hellenised Jew Philo commented on Numbers 19:2-19 as to how "persons are sprinkled with pure water." There -- "having previously prepared ashes" -- Moses commanded "to pour water upon them." And then -- "moistening some branches of hyssop with the mixture of ashes and water" -- he further commanded "to sprinkle it over those who were to be purified." See too Heb 9:13!
Philo also declared that "reason is baptized with the things that come upon it." Then again further: "Outside the outer vestibule [of the 42 A.D. Jewish Temple], at the entrance, is a brazen laver.... Let him who is about to be sprinkled with the water of purification from this laver, remember!"
Similarly, around 75 A.D., the Judaist Josephus commented on Ex 29:10-18. Said he: "Within these gates [to the tabernacle], was the vessel for sprinkling ... Therefrom, the priests washed their hands and poured water on their feet.... Moses took some from the blood of the sacrifices, and sprinkled the robes of Aaron himself and his sons -- and sanctified them with spring water."
Josephus also declared that in Num 19:4-20 the red "heifer was slain by the high priest, and her blood sprinkled with his finger.... When therefore any persons were defiled by a dead body, they put a little of these ashes into spring water, with hyssop." Then, "baptizing part of these ashes in it, they sprinkled them with it."
With this, we may compare the (400f A.D.) Christian Patriarch Cyril of Alexandria. Wrote he: "We have been baptized not with naked water nor with the ashes of the heifer, but with the Holy Spirit!"
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Just after the completion of the Newer Testament -- one encounters perhaps the earliest Christian treatise dealing with the sprinkling ceremony of the Older Testament's red heifer. We refer to the Epistle of Barnabas, written around 100 A.D. In that treatise, the Older Testament's ceremony is compared with the similar sprinkling -- of New Testament baptism!
The Epistle addresses Christians awaiting baptism. Speaking to them about the red heifer, it says: "What do you think this type was? ... The 'young men' [or Old Testament priests] would sprinkle the people one by one.... The 'young men' [or New Testament administrators] who sprinkle, are those who preach to us the 'Good Tidings'.... We go down toward the water, full of sins and uncleanness -- and come away, bearing fruit in the heart!" Cf. Isa. 52:15f & Acts 8:35-39.
Contemporary with the Epistle of Barnabas, also the renowned Plutarch stated that "plants are nourished by water in measure -- but are choked by excess.... After the same manner, the soul grows." Thus, "the priests...besprinkle themselves."
Plutarch also enjoined: "Baptize yourself at the sea" -- but not 'in' or 'under' it! "Remain seated on the shore throughout the day!" Indeed, according to him, even a city-state could be 'baptized' -- without being submersed. For he declared of Athens: "You are baptized; but fate forbids your sinking!"
However, Adamthwaite's article Baptism is Immersion does refer to at least one submersionistic usage of the word baptizein -- in degenerate literature! Adamthwaite avidly alleges "that this word means 'immerse' or 'submerge.'" To try to prove his allegation, he then immediately refers to a writing from the late date of circa the fourth century after Christ -- "a papyrus" of "c. 4th AD."
That was, of course, a time when the Church was fast adopting a 'magical' view of the Sacraments -- under the invading influence of neo-paganism! Biblical sprinkling was by then being replaced by ritualistic submersionism. The more water used, the more effective it was now deemed to be: ex opere operato! So, in that fourth century papyrus -- the Baptist Adamthwaite assures us149 -- "baptizoo is used to describe a ship sinking."
It seems to us, however, that it is only the Baptist ship that is here sinking! For, unlike our modern Baptist brethren, such anciently 'baptized ships' -- overwhelmed by the sprinkling of the waves -- thereafter stayed submerged, for ever!
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In his article, the Baptist Adamthwaite almost totally ignores the Older Testament of the infallible Holy Scriptures. He also totally ignores the classical usages of the word baptizein even in secular Greek.
Furthermore, he seems to write off as less than "careful" even the encyclopaedic exegetical expositions of that great Trinitarian -- the renowned Hebrew Christian Scholar Rev. Prof. Dr. Alfred Edersheim! What, then, does Adamthwaite offer us in the place of all this?
He absolutizes modern archaeological excavations. Indeed, he shares the recent misinterpretations thereof -- offered by Neo-Evangelicals, Non-Evangelicals, and even by Non-Christians in the Non-Trinitarian and 'Unitarian' Jewish State of modern Israel!
In Adamthwaite's article, one searches almost in vain for the views of the Older Testament’s great Mediator Moses -- and of Jehovah's messenger John the Baptizer. Indeed, Adamthwaite scarcely offers us any of the views of the world's Saviour Jesus the Messiah -- or any of the views of His inspired apostles.
Instead, Adamthwaite asks us to heed the views of unitarians! He asks us to heed the Philip Blackman edition of the Post-Christian Judaistic Mishnah (200f A.D.). He would have us revise our views "in the light" of those: of A. Mazar; of Ronny Reich; of Rabbi D. Minzberger and Aluf S. Goren.
Some four times, Adamthwaite points us to the modern Israeli archaeologist Yigael Yadin. Indeed, Adamthwaite cites as his own authority the modern Encyclopaedia Judaica (Jerusalem 1971) -- some thirteen times in just eleven pages!
Thus, for the Baptist Adamthwaite, not the Sacred Scriptures but rather the non-christian and judaistic Judaica seems to have become his chief 'canon' or yardstick -- with which to evaluate even Christian baptism! The Ancient Trinitarian hermeneutic is abandoned. Neo-Unitarian methodology is eagerly embraced!
* * * * * * *
Yet the Baptist Murray Adamthwaite is not totally ignorant of all good Trinitarian Scholarship. For he indeed refers, in passing, to a few short statements -- of Murray, of Adams and of "Hodges"(?!) -- from the vast armoury of the very many volumes of "paedobaptist writers."
[Such "paedobaptist writers" are the defenders of the Biblical baptism of whole households. Acts 2:38f & 16:15,33f & 18:8 etc. They also usually insist that such Biblical baptisms were and are to be administered too in the Biblical manner or mode -- namely, by way of sprinkling. Acts 1:5 & 2:1f,16f & 10:45f etc.]
The material in Rev. Prof. John Murray's landmark book Christian Baptism -- Presbyterian and Reformed, Philadelphia -- is described by Adamthwaite as "slipshod and suspect." Murray's "evidence" is stated to be only "thin at best" -- depending on "a misreading of Lev. 15" (alleges Adamthwaite). Indeed, in one proud pontificating phrase, he assures us in his summarizing statement: "Murray is ignorant of a number of things."
It is true that (Rev. Prof. Dr.) Jay Adams's standard work The Meaning and Mode of Baptism (Presbyterian and Reformed) is at least briefly noted by Adamthwaite. Yet it too is then even more aggressively assailed! For Jay Adams, alleges Adamthwaite, wishfully "waxes triumphant" -- in spite of his lack of "careful scholarship." Indeed, Adams is said to make "wild claims" which "are palpably false." Frankly -- so Adamthwaite assures us -- "Adams" is plainly "wrong."
So too is -- or are? -- "Hodges."164 Here, it is not clear whether Adamthwaite is castigating the modern Rev. Prof. Dr. Jesse Hodges -- or the more famous Rev. Prof. Dr. Charles Hodge together with his son Rev. Prof. Dr. A.A. Hodge. We can only assume he is here assailing Jesse Hodges. For Adamthwaite's own word "Hodges" has no apostrophe -- and Adamthwaite, we recall, scorns what is "slipshod" in his zeal for "careful scholarship."
Adamthwaite is, however, somewhat kinder toward the modern Presbyterians Rev. Prof. Louis Berkhof and Rev. Prof. Dr. Gordon H. Clark; the "paedobaptist" Rev. Prof. Dr. O. Noordtzij; and Rev. Prof. Dr. J. Barton Payne. In their cases, Murray Adamthwaite simply discounts their views -- without any argumentation.
Yet 'sprinkling advocates' of infant baptism in general -- continues Adamthwaite -- eccentrically exude "polemical zeal." Moreover, those advocates also make what Adamthwaite calls: "'cannot exclude' claims." That is -- he alleges! -- they boldly and dogmatically decree that Christian churches 'cannot exclude' at least the infant of a believing parent from baptism.
Yet such claims, insists Adamthwaite, only reveal their "ignorance of the operation of the then operating Temple ritual." This "ignorance" in the minds of "paedobaptist writers" -- Adamthwaite further insists -- is "truly pathethic." For it is "based on gross ignorance" -- and is indicative of "the merry pranks by paedobaptists who...are wide of the mark."
Thus, Mr. Adamthwaite asserts that Scriptural sprinklers alias non-immersionistic Presbyterians like Professor John Murray are "slipshod." Even Dr. Jay Adams lacks "careful scholarship." Let us, however, now take a closer look at the more obviously "slipshod" lack of "careful scholarship" in the Baptist Murray Adamthwaite himself!
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First, we are quite appalled by Adamthwaite's most Un-Protestant and indeed Neo-Thomist apologetic. Thereby, he has attempted to re-read Holy Writ -- through the spectacles of secular science. The correct approach, however, demands just the exact opposite!
Second, Adamthwaite has misconstrued Holy Writ specifically in the darkness of modern archaeology -- which he has then called "the light of Jewish sources and the excavations." He should have done precisely the opposite. Obscure archaeology investigates the sin-stained terrain of God's general revelation. This therefore needs to be interpreted in the clear light of God's special revelation -- in sinless Sacred Scripture!
Third, Adamthwaite seriously erred when he sought to begin his understanding of New Testament baptism -- from the perspective of Judaistic 'proselyte baptism.' He should, as we have done, instead have started his study in the Older Testament and at the most ancient time. Mt 19:4f; Rom 4:3f; 6:3f; I Cor 10:1f; I Pet 3:20f!
Fourth, he should at the very least have discussed the clear baptism of Noah and his household -- by the mode of sprinkling, during the Great Flood. He should also have discussed the baptism of the Israelites at the Red Sea -- by the cloud which poured out water. Instead, Adamthwaite has attempted to ground Judaistic 'proselyte baptism' -- in practices absolutely no earlier than the bronze laver in Solomon's Temple!
Fifth, Adamthwaite has restricted nearly all of his sources solely to Non-Biblical material. Indeed, he has even reinterpreted the (200f A.D.) Hebrew Mishnah -- in the light (or darkness) of the modern Encyclopaedia Judaica and contemporary Israeli archaeology. Nowhere has Adamthwaite attempted to interpret the uninspired Jewish Mishnah nor uninspiring unitarian archaeology -- in the light of the infallibly inspired Holy Scriptures of the Older and the Newer Testaments!
Sixth, Adamthwaite's approach was bad -- even archaeologically. An acquaintance with Rogers's Baptism and Christian Archaeology -- instead of with 'Baptism and Judaistic Archaeology' as gleaned from the unitarian Encyclopaedia Judaica -- would have helped him.
Seventh, he should have been aware of the essential need to adhere specifically to Biblical alias Christian presuppositions in studying any matter. That would then have enabled Adamthwaite to have been more loyal to Consistent Christianity.
However, we shall now show that the Baptist Adamthwaite has misinterpreted even the Encyclopaedia Judaica! Indeed, he has misunderstood even those very Talmudic traditions -- which our spotless Saviour Himself so rightly rejected.
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Adamthwaite majors heavily -- indeed, almost exclusively -- on the old Judaistic miqva,oth or pools of running water for ritual cleansings. Compare the miqvah or "pool" of running waters mentioned in Isa 22:9-11. He overlooks the fact that this pool was fed by a "conduit" (Isa 7:3) coming from outside the walled city. He also seems to overlook that its purpose was strategic rather than ablutionary.
Now the very word miqvah, plural miqva,oth, means a "collection of waters" and hence a "reservoir." It is derived from the Hebrew verb qavah, meaning "to collect." In the Niph'al, this verb means "to gather themselves together" -- referring to running waters, such as those mentioned in Isa 22:11.
Throughout, the emphasis is not on the depth of the water concerned -- but upon its 'runningness' alias its non-stagnancy. Even Adamthwaite himself almost grasps this -- where he rightly states that "the basic meaning of the miqveh" is connected to "the flowing ('living') water of a river, stream or spring."
Yet Adamthwaite should have reflected even further. He should also then have considered the relationship of the words spring and sprinkle -- to the idea of clear refreshment by specifically running water.
Instead, he refers to the Post-Christian Talmudic "tractate Miqva,ot" -- namely in "the Jewish Mishnah (compiled AD 200)." Here, Adamthwaite admits that this source (the uninspired Judaistic Mishnah) -- the chief writing on which he bases his own immersionism -- was only compiled well over a century after the completion of infallible Sacred Scripture!
For this reason alone, we could well ignore the uninspired Mishnah completely -- in favour of the earlier evidence of the inspired New Testament. Yet it is just possible that also the Post-Christian Mishnah -- occasionally at least -- might itself reflect even the prior intertestamentary ablutions of degenerating Judaism. By this, we mean the ablutions among the Israelites -- between the times of Malachi and of Matthew. So, it is appropriate to deal definitively with this mishnaic material right away.
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Adamthwaite himself draws our attention to the "Jewish Mishnah (compiled AD 200), sixth tractate Miqva,ot." He does not also tell us that the latter word actually means: "the gathering places of running water." Yet he confidently reminds us that this mishnaic tractate in the Talmud "contains ten chapters of stipulations regarding the miqveh." Erroneously, by 'miqveh' (masculine) Mr. Adamthwaite apparently means the related feminine word miqvah (plural miqva,oth). For he then adds that this is "the miqveh...(plural miqva,ot])."171
He also adds that "these pools...were for ritual purification" and indeed -- according to him! -- for "ritual immersion." He then further states that they were "for all who had contacted a corpse (Num 19:18-19) or any other defiling object" -- for "all with any sort of discharge"; for all "after marriage relationships"; and also for all "menstruant women."171
Now it needs to be noted that, unlike Adamthwaite, Sacred Scripture prescribes not "ritual immersion" but precisely sprinkling "for all who had contacted a corpse."171 Num 19:13-19 is quite specific in this regard: "Whoever touches the dead body of any man that is dead, and does not purify himself, defiles the tabernacle...because the water of separation was not sprinkled upon him.... A clean person shall...sprinkle it...upon him that touched a bone or one slain or one dead or a grave. And the clean person shall sprinkle upon the unclean."
It also needs to be said that, in the (270 B.C.) ancient Greek Septuagint, the word koitazeetai is used (at Lev 15:20f) -- as regards cleansing by water after menstruation. The very same verb is also used in Dan 4:15 (4:12 LXX). There, we find the word koitastheesetai -- in association with being moistened by dewdrops! Indeed, why should total submersion of the entire human body have been required -- when heeding Old Testament ritual cleansings even subsequently to purely localised 'pollutions' such as specifically menstruation?
At this point, Mr. Adamthwaite has made several gratuitous misassumptions. He inaccurately assumes that the mode by which Jewesses (defiled as above) washed themselves in Early Post-Christian times -- was the same as earlier, in Pre-Christian Intertestamentary times.
He also misassumes that the Judaistic washings in Post-Christian times took place by the same mode -- as they did in the earlier Pre-Christian times. He further misassumes that intertestamentary (hellenistic!) practice in this regard -- was just the same as the prescribed Mosaic practice.
Indeed, he once again misassumes that the mode of (self-)cleansing adopted after menstruation even in Mosaic times -- was then identical to the mode(s) whereby such Hebrew priests contemporaneously washed Hebrew lepers. He also misassumes that it was identical to the mode whereby various inanimate 'Hebrew objects' were then being cleansed. However, all of these (mis)assumptions are rebuttable!
* * * * * * *
For, also according to many of the Early Church Fathers, Ancient Hebrew lepers were cleansed not by immersion but by sprinkling. Indeed, Christ Himself apparently disapproved of the Post-Mosaic and uninspired Judaistic methods -- of 'baptismally' cleansing various inanimate 'Hebrew objects' such as pots and beds.
But what if Adamthwaite were to be correct on this point? Then, it would only prove that also the Early Post-Christian Judaical ceremonies -- all used the same mode as the more ancient Old Testament practice of sprinkling! So Adamthwaite should now relinquish the views of unitarianizing modern archaeologists -- and return instead to the Mosaic portions of the Trinitarian Bible!
Significantly, even the Baptist Adamthwaite claims it was only in "most cases" -- and therefore not in all! -- that "total immersion...was/is required for...cases of ritual impurity" in Judaism. He claims that such cases were "decreed in the Torah" -- alias the first five books of the Old Testament. But then he promptly refers not at all to the inspired Torah (of 1440f B.C.), but instead to the uninsp;ired (1971 A.D.) "entry 'Ablution' in Encyclopaedia Judaica."
Would that the uninspired and modern Judaica always agreed with the inspired and ancient Torah! Yet what does even this "entry" in the Judaica really claim? On its very same page to which Murray Adamthwaite refers, it actually states that "the person or article must be clean -- with nothing adhering (chazizah) to him or it.... According to law, one such immersion is sufficient; but three have become customary."
Here, the Judaica speaks not of total sub-mersion but only of im-mersion -- alias partial insertion into water. The Judaica is right as to the customary tripleness of the cleansing. That is Biblical! But the Judaica is wrong as to the nakedness of that cleansing -- ("nothing adhering"). It has overlooked the 'clothed ablutions' of the Pre-Christian Judaistic Essenes mentioned by Josephus!
Now it should be noted that modern Baptists themselves by and large disregard this customary triple washing (dating apparently even from Old Testament times). This is curious, for Scripture itself describes the administration of the Christian rite in terms of the frequentative baptizein -- not in terms of its non-frequentative cognate baptein. And never does Sacred Scripture use the submersives hupodu(n)ein and katadu(n)ein!
Indeed, the Early Christian Church Father Gregory of Nyssa and many modern Presbyterians see the continuation of Elijah's triple pouring -- via the similar rite of John the Baptizer -- in Christ's mandate to administer triune baptism. Consequently, they still practise triple sprinkling at Christian baptisms.
It is, however, indeed fortunate that modern Baptists -- in their own clothed public immersions -- follow the clothed washings of the Pre-Christian Essenes. In that very matter, Baptists fortunately disregard the Post-Christian Judaical public ablutions -- and the modern Encyclopaedia Judaica's version of Post-Christian Judaical naked washings "with nothing adhering" etc!
* * * * * * *
Adamthwaite quite gratuitously assumes that the "immersion" of Jewish persons referred to in the Talmudic tractate Miqva,oth, is indeed simply "total immersion" alias submersion -- in "cases of ritual impurity." However, not even the Mishnah (and still less Holy Scripture) here equates partial "immersion" with the total sub-mersion alias 'hupo-dusis' or 'kata-dusis' sometimes referred to in the later stages of Pre-Christian Greek Paganism.
Indeed, why should a total submersion even of undefiled toes and fingers -- be required for Pre-Christian Israelitic ritual cleansings of other body parts? Why should also the shoulders and the arms need to be totally submersed (or even totally sprinkled) -- even after mere menstruation or localized seminal issues etc?
Further, Adamthwaite gratuitously assumes that this "im-mersion" or 'dipping into' a pool constituted total submersion. He jumps to the conclusion that the 'dipping in' of defiled Hebrews and of their unclean utensils -- necessarily involved their sub-mersion totally!
Yet such was not at all the case -- according to the infallible Scriptures of the Older Testament. For one should carefully note the usages of baptein and baptizein -- in many clearly non-submersionistic passages in the Septuagint Bible. Nor was total submersion the case -- even according to the fallible modern Encyclopaedia Judaica!
For, as far as the cleansing of the 'defiled' body-parts of intertestamentary Jews is concerned, this was done not at all by total submersion but by sprinkling. Thus, the Pharisees and all the Jews washed or "baptized" their hands by sprinkling them -- even in Jesus Christ's own time! "The Pharisees...saw some of His disciples eat bread...with unwashed hands. They found fault. For the Pharisees...do not eat, unless they wash" their hands.
For the above words "they wash" -- the Textus Receptus, the Codex Alexandrinus and the Codex Bezae all have: baptisoontai. This means: "they baptize" -- cf. Heb 9:10. Some other ancient manuscripts and two uncials (the Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Vaticanus) here use the word rhantisoontai. This means: "they sprinkle." Cf. Heb 9:10,13,19,21.
* * * * * * *
What about the cleansing of defiled Jewish utensils? Here again, the (total?) "immersions" of the Post-Christian Judaistic Mishnah (from 200 A.D. onwards) cannot be reconciled with the Older Testament prescriptions. Heb 9:10-19. Nor can they be reconciled even with the unprescribed inter-testamentary practices. For even in Christ's own time, the Pharisees were apparently still performing the "baptisms" of defiled utensils by sprinkling.187 Indeed, some of those utensils -- like tables and beds -- could hardly have been submersed!
The inspired Gospel of Mark itself tells us about precisely these practices of Mark's contemporaries the Pharisees. It states that "there are also many other things which they have received to hold, such as the washing (baptismous) of cups and pots, brazen vessels and of tables." Indeed, after "tables" -- some manuscripts have the extra words "and beds."
Even partial immersion of all these utensils, was quite unnecessary -- and also a departure from the Sacred Scriptures. For the inspired Heb 9:10-21 describes the prescribed Old Testament "washings" or baptismois of temple utensils. It says this was done by "sprinkling" -- rhantizousa and errhantisen. It says absolutely nothing at all about total sub-mersion or even about partial im-mersion of such articles -- least of all about the submersion of large objects such as tables and beds!
Now the Baptist Adamthwaite says ("rightly") that a Pharisee was actually washing his hands -- and thus even engaged in "Rabbinic handwashing" -- when he "poured cleansing water over only one of his hands." Here, note Adamthwaite's own words: "rightly"; "poured"; and "only one" hand!
He further admits that the Pharisees could thus "acquire cleanness by the cleansing water poured over them up to the wrist." Here, Adamthwaite agrees that -- to the ancient rabbi's -- there was an adequate and proper ritual "washing" even when water was merely "poured" over one of the hands and just as far as "up to the wrist."
Adamthwaite correctly adds that "this ritual seems to have arisen in the first century BC" -- and was thus not an ordinance prescribed by the Older Testament itself. And indeed, he even admits that "Jesus opposed it" -- and that "other rabbis did so too."191
In referring to the Encyclopaedia Judaica Adamthwaite does not, however, tell us -- as the Judaica itself does! -- that the famous (50-137 A.D.) Rabbi Akiva opposed the practice of ritual handwashing. Nor does Adamthwaite tell us (as even the Judaica does)192 that sprinkling was in fact quite sufficient -- even though there were indeed "sects" which, unnecessarily, required immersion (of the hands before eating).
* * * * * * *
It should be noted that the Baptist Adamthwaite -- though unwittingly so! -- has already admitted to 'baptism' by pouring. For he has agreed that not even just the hands of (first-century A.D.) Pharisees were totally immersed. He has conceded that their hands merely had "cleansing water poured over them"191 -- or even "poured over over only one" of them!190 Most curiously, therefore, Adamthwaite now goes on -- unlike even the 200 A.D. Mishnah! -- to demand the total submersion of all defiled objects!
Adamthwaite is suddenly emphatic. "Immersion must be total." For these rigid regulations 'require for valid ritual immersion that the water enters inside them: the shoulder knot of underwear, the hem of a sheet..., the thongs of a sandal' (i.e. water must penetrate to all parts). Miqva,ot chap. 10, Mishnah 4."
Right here, Adamthwaite immediately refers to his own footnote "19." That points us to the Encyclopaedia Judaica. The footnote reads: "Entry 'Miqveh' col. 1536 features a 14th century woodcut depicting the immersion of utensils in a miqveh." Here, Adamthwaite assumes submersion.
However, that is not what the Judaica here depicts! "Entry 'Miqveh' col. 1536" actually does something else. The woodcut there referred to, instead depicts women dangling objects over a pit -- with water only in the bottom thereof. It does not depict them giving an "immersion" which is "total" to the objects in that pit -- as Adamthwaite wrongly alleges195 it does.
He also misassumes that the ritual cleansing of defiled Jews themselves -- took place in exactly the same way as did the cleansing of a utensil. Yet this is incredible. For, following Adamthwaite's Baptistic misinterpretation of the (200f A.D.) Mishnah, this would then "require for valid ritual immersion that the water enters inside them" -- and hence enters even inside the defiled Jews themselves! Indeed, Adamthwaite further insists, the "water must penetrate to all parts."195
Strange spectres of absurd and 'apocryphal' ablutions here suggest themselves. Were the defiled Jews then to be required to swallow the water -- and to have it enter into all of their body orifices? On this hypothesis -- even Adamthwaite should be insisting that very few Baptistic submersions have ever met these man-made criteria of validity!
Once again, Adamthwaite refers to the Encyclopaedia Judaica.. This time, he alleges anent the Judaical cleansing specifically of defiled Jews: "Rabbis stipulated a minimum of 47 inches depth, to enable total immersion of the candidate, preferably in a standing position." Yet Murray Adamthwaite then omits the rest of the sentence in the Judaica. That goes on to say: "even though he has to bend his knees."
We have not yet heard of modern Baptists receiving their immersions on bended knees. Undoubtedly, however, that notion indeed has a lot of merit!
* * * * * * *
Significant indeed is Adamthwaite's admission that the "pools" excavated by Dr. Yigael Yadin and others in Israel since the 1960's, were connected with "private homes" -- and not with the Temple! Their principal use was thus for domestic purposes such as daily baths -- and not for the more occasional ritual washings.
Important too is his further assertion that the "six stone jars" in the house at Cana mentioned in John's Gospel, were "for the purification (rite) of the Jews." Indeed, he even alleges that they "were clearly to service the water supply for the miqveh."
Yet here, Adamthwaite has missed the obvious fact that this was 'running water' -- water to be poured forth from such jars! See John 2:7-10. He has also missed the implication that -- being "for the purifying of the Jews"199 -- that water was 'baptizingly' to be sprinkled over their hands.
* * * * * * *
We have just been considering the self-washing of all defiled Jews on the one hand and their own washing of their defiled utensils on the other during the intertestamentary period. We now look at the quite different 'washing' of Gentile proselytes by Hebrews -- during that same time.
The Baptist Adamthwaite seems to have forgotten this difference! He also seems to have forgotten that, unlike Gentiles, the defiled Jews had previously been conceived in the covenant -- and circumcised in infancy. Unlike their prior circumcision (and unlike the Christian baptism which replaced it), these subsequent 'washings' of such Jews were not once and for all but repetitive. For such washings were repeated -- whenever the Jews themselves again became defiled.
However, in the case of Gentile proselytes to Judaism -- their ritual washing was indeed once and for all. Indeed, it was just one of several successive rites -- by which they got engrafted into the covenant. This was during Hellenistic times -- some very considerable time after the closure of the Old Testament canon around 400 B.C.
Nevertheless, it is significant that also this proselyte baptism was called a tebiylah -- from the Hebrew verb taabal! And it was previously noted that this verb is very frequently rendered either baptein or baptizein -- in the (270 B.C.) Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament.
In some of those cases -- such as at Josh 3:15 -- it was seen that taabal and baptein could not possibly mean submersion. In most of the rest of those cases, it was seen that these words clearly imply sprinkling. Indeed, also the New Testament texts which refer to those proselytized to Judaism -- would confirm that they had indeed been 'baptized' specifically by sprinkling.
Adamthwaite assumes that the intertestamentary ritual washing of proselytes -- took place in the same way as did the various Old Testament washings. Yet if it indeed did -- that would then have occurred by way of the sprinkling used in the various Mosaic 'baptisms.' Heb 9:10-21.
* * * * * * *
For even Adamthwaite rightly states: "The rabbis held that impurity came by contact with (a) an idolater; (b) a Gentile; (c) a leper or anyone else already unclean. For all these impurities the miqveh was the proper means of purification." Yet here, Adamthwaite has apparently forgotten that such lepers were symbolically purified – precisely by way of sprinkling! Lev 14:7f.
Nevertheless, Adamthwaite does not hesitate to quote from the Unitarian and Post-Christian Encyclopaedia Judaica -- "[Vol. 11] Column 82" -- in order to try to establish his own notion of "total immersion." Yet he totally ignores this very same "Column 82" (and also the next Column 83) of the Judaica -- on the important subject of the Judaic 'baptism' of Gentile proselytes!
For there, in its columns 82-83, even the Judaica declares: "Immersion also came to form part of the ceremony of conversion to Judaism.... Pouring nine kav...of water, over the body, was considered sufficient."
Here, the language of the Judaica is very precise. Absolutely no total submersion of the proselyte under the water was then required. Instead, the partial immersion involved -- was sufficiently administered by a "pouring" of water. Indeed, the water was to be poured "over" the candidate!
Furthermore, this involved precisely running water -- nine kav of it. The very word "kav" (or qav) -- a measurement -- is, just like the word mi-qv-ah, derived from the old Hebrew verb qav-ah.
Qav-ah means to "collect together" -- to collect water which had been, and could further be, poured out as 'running water.' One could then pour out just a very small outpouring -- a qav. One could even proceed "to pour out" -- le-qav-oth -- more of this running water. One could also pour it, or cause it to be poured, into mi-qv-a,oth -- alias "pools of running water."
Now even the modern Encyclopaedia Judaica agrees that submersing the Gentile proselyte to Judaism, was not necessary. Merely "pouring nine kav...of water over" him -- nine small outpourings of running water -- "was considered sufficient." This running water was "poured" out "over" the Gentile proselyte -- in order to graft him into the covenant. That ritual outpouring "was considered sufficient" for this purpose -- by Ancient Judaism -- according to the modern Encyclopaedia Judaica!
Hence, Rev. Prof. Dr. Jay Adams draws the correct conclusion in his book The Meaning and Mode of Baptism. There, while discussing total submersion, he rightly remarks: "Immersion as a Pre-Johannine, Pre-Christian practice must be discounted."
* * * * * * *
We have just considered the 'washing' of Gentile proselytes by appointed Hebrew administrators. We next move on to look at the 'washings' of Hebrew proselytes by Hebrew administrators. That occurred when such Hebrew proselytes joined Hebrew sects -- such as the Essenes. It thereafter continued -- as a whole series of ritualistic self-washings -- performed by those sectarians themselves.
Now the Baptist Adamthwaite alleges that the Qumran community was founded circa 200 B.C. He quotes triumphantly from Bryant Wood's article To Dip or Sprinkle? There, Wood had insisted that "the members of the Qumran sect most certainly dipped." Here, Adamthwaite also assumes that even 'dipped' can only mean to be totally submersed.
Yet he seems to have forgotten that the Hellenistic era -- during which time he too believes Judaical proselyte baptism arose -- was a time of syncretism! The careful Kittel -- here citing with approval that celebrated scholar of Intertestamentary Judaism, Rev. Prof. Dr. Emil Schuerer -- has demonstrated that also the Essenes were indeed syncretistic. Also Josephus, their own contemporary, anciently attributed some of the Essenic views -- to Paganism!
Moreover, Rev. Dr. J.B. Lightfoot, in his three classic studies on the Essenes, has shown that there were indeed "foreign elements in Essenism"; such as Pythagoreanism. "The characteristic features of Pythagoreanism" -- namely "the asceticism, the magic, the mysticism" -- are "more Oriental" than they are Biblical. Consequently, as regards the Essenes, "when we turn to the representations of Philo and Josephus it is impossible to overlook...traits which betoken foreign affinities."
Indeed, according to the learned Josephus, even his own former teacher Banus was "often washing in cold water day and night with a view to cultic purity." Josephus also explained -- as an eye-witness! -- that the Essenes "practise the mode of life which among the Greeks was introduced by Pythagoras."
Yet the Essenes and Banus had no influence upon either John the Baptizer or Jesus Christ. The Essenes were 'communal' vegetarians; the 'individualists' John and Jesus ate respectively locusts and fish. Banus wore garments of bark or leaves;214 John wore camel-hair;215 and Jesus wore woven fabric.
Again, the Essenes and Banus both practised frequent self-lustrations. But John baptized people once only; Jesus condemned repeated ritual washings; and original Christian baptism was never administered by the candidates to themselves but only by their instructor. Indeed, the Essenes even denied the resurrection of the body -- whereas John and Jesus both insisted on that very doctrine (as indeed reflected in their baptisms)!
There is thus no connection between the earlier 'washings' of the Essenes and Banus on the one hand -- and the baptisms performed by John the Baptizer on the other. As Kittel explains, from these earlier Essenic washings "there is no solid bridge to [John] the Baptist.... The completely different attitude to ritualism demonstrated by the daily repetition of washings on the one side and the uniqueness of baptism on the other -- denotes an unbridgeable distinction."
Yet, both the Essenes and Banus greatly affected -- the later 'hemerobaptists.' The latter -- whether 'daily baptists' or 'morning baptists' -- ritually re-washed themselves, every day of their lives! As such, they were clearly outside the pale of Christianity. Instead, they flourished precisely on the 'communal' or 'left-wing lunatic fringe' -- of reactionary Post-Christian Judaism.
* * * * * * *
Adamthwaite also discusses the Biblical baptism of penitent Hebrews -- by John the Baptizer. However, he wrongly assumes John used the same mode of baptism as did the later unitarian Judaists -- as described in the ritualistic Mishnah of 200 A.D.
He further makes the same misassumption as regards the authentic apostolic mode of baptizing penitent Gentiles in the trinitarian terms of the Great Commission. For there never was any self-washing from defilement -- in the baptismal mode employed during the New Testament baptisms practised by John and by Christ's apostles!
Now even the Levites and the Pharisees of the first century A.D., knew that Christ would baptize in the same 'pouring' way as had Elijah -- at his indeed dramatic and unforgettable public showdown atop Mt Carmel. It is because they saw John baptizing in this way -- by pouring! -- that they initially confused him with Elijah, and with Christ.
Thus, the Pharisees asked John: "Are you Elijah?" John replied: "I am not." Then they asked him: "Why are you then baptizing -- if you are neither Christ, nor Elijah?"
In Elijah's day, because of the ungodliness of the Israelites, God had withheld the rain. So, Elijah re-erected Israel's dilapidated altar -- "according to...the tribes of the children of Jacob" -- and publically poured water over it: thrice. Then God sent -- the rain!
Later, Malachi had predicted that God would send an "Elijah" -- namely as His Own "messenger." That would occur just before the manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ -- "before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord." Then, the Lord Himself -- the Mediator of the Covenant -- would suddenly come to His temple (alias His true people). He would come to them as their great "Refiner" -- to "purge" and to "pour out" His blessing upon them!
The Priests and the Levites and the Pharisees knew these Scriptures! Hence their questions to John -- when they saw him baptizing by pouring. Jesus Himself later declared that John had thus fulfilled Malachi's prediction regarding Elijah. Yet later, so too -- under the infallible inspiration of the Holy Spirit -- did Luke.
Significantly, the famous Early Church Father Clement of Alexandria insisted on the above identification. Clement wrote of being "baptized by tears." Said he: "If you truly desire to see God -- take to yourself means of purification...wreathing your brows with righteousness...like Elijah's rain of salvation.... So receive the water of the Word! Wash, you polluted ones! Purify yourselves..., by sprinkling yourselves with the true drops!"
Origen gave a similarly testimony. He wrote that John the Baptizer said that Elijah had commanded "the priests" to "baptize the wood upon the altar in the time of Ahab." Similarly, Elijah had "assigned the work" to John -- the work "to baptize" the people -- "when he came according to the prophecy of Malachi." Did John then, like Elijah, pour out thrice -- like rain?
Especially Gregory of Nyssa compared Elijah's "pouring" of the water -- with the trinitarian baptism of his own day. "Thus did Elijah, through that wondrous sacrifice of his, evidently proclaim to us beforehand -- the mysterious consecration by baptism which was afterwards to be accomplished! For the fire was kindled by the water which had been thrice poured over -- so as to show that where the mystic water is, there also is the...fiery Spirit Who burns up the ungodly and enlightens the faithful!"
Yet there were such predictions not only in Malachi. There was in addition the similar teaching in Numbers regarding purification -- and also the prophecies in Isaiah and Ezekiel that Jehovah would pour and sprinkle water upon His people. Indeed, Zechariah too had predicted that God would pour out the Holy Spirit of grace and supplications -- when a Fountain would be opened for sin and uncleanness!
* * * * * * *
Now John the Baptizer knew that he himself, as Jehovah's messenger, would pour out a blessing. He knew this was to occur -- soon before the advent of Christ, the Mediator of the Covenant.
John himself therefore declared to his converts: "I indeed baptize you with water" -- not under it! Here, John was quite categorical. For he insisted that God Himself had sent him "to baptize with water."
Indeed, it was not under but at the Jordan that John so baptized. He did so, with fresh running water -- as the sprinkling symbol of purification! Significantly, he did not baptize where the water was deep. Instead, he baptized where the water was fresh and running -- at AEnon alias 'Fountains.'
That was a place where there were "many" sprinkling springs. There, John had baptized with that running water. Indeed, not just the apostle Peter but the infallible Jesus Himself also tells us so!
Usually, an Old Testament priest or a prophet or a king -- all being types of Christ the 'Anointed One' -- were themselves anointed. Indeed, this was done -- precisely by their being sprinkled on their heads.
So too -- at His baptismal anointing -- was their Antitype, Jesus Christ Himself! Thus, when John got ready to baptize Jesus as our great Prophet and Priest and King -- he would do so not by submersing but precisely by sprinkling Him.
Centuries earlier and just after Moses, a lesser Joshua had come -- together with God's people -- "to the Jordan." At that time, they all went "in the Jordan" -- and then "came up out of the Jordan." That was right after "passing through" it "on dry land" -- and hence without being submersed in it.
As Joshua then told God's people: "Let your children know...Israel came over this Jordan on dry land! For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until you had passed over -- as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up from before us until we had gone over!"
Indeed, it was "under the cloud and...through the Sea" that God's people had been "baptized" with or "in the cloud" and with or "in the Sea." That was when "the clouds poured out water" -- after God "had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven, and had rained down!"249
Similarly, together with God's later people, a New Testament Joshua greater than even Moses -- likewise came "to the Jordan." He -- 'Joshua-Jesus' -- came to its running water. There He came, in order -- "to be baptized."
That was done not underneath the Jordan, but with its water -- and indeed from heaven above! Then, just like the unsubmerged lesser Joshua of old, the New Testament Joshua-Jesus was Himself baptized. Thereafter, He too went "away from the water" -- and "away from the Jordan."
* * * * * * *
Moreover, at the very time John baptized Jesus with water -- God the Father also baptized Him with the Spirit. For when "Jesus...was baptized..., the heavens were opened to Him."
Thus, John then saw "the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and coming upon Him." Hence, we read that "John bare record, saying: 'I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove.... I saw [that] the Spirit...abode upon Him!'"
Now when Jesus "returned from the Jordan," He was "full of the Holy Ghost." As Christ Himself then affirmed: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me -- because He has anointed Me!"
Later, also Peter recalled that at "the baptism which John preached, God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power." For all such anointings -- whether in respect of a prophet, a priest or a king -- were effected not by submersion but by sprinkling alone!
Significantly, the noted Early Church Father Hippolytus clearly implies that John baptized Jesus -- by sprinkling or pouring water upon His head. Hippolytus records how "Christ, the Maker of all, came down as the rain [Hos 6:3] and...was baptized in the Jordan.... He bent His head to be baptized by John.... Lo! The Spirit of God descended in the form of a dove...when Christ the Bridegroom was baptized."
Also the great Ante-Nicene theologian Lactantius has the same teaching. For he writes about Jesus that "He was baptized (tinctus) by the prophet John at the river Jordan..., by the sprinkling of the dew of purification."
* * * * * * *
However, it was not only John's disciples and Jesus Himself that received baptism by sprinkling. Later, Jesus in turn -- through the agency of His Ministers of the Word and Sacraments -- would similarly baptize others too.
Jesus would do so, not underneath but rather with water -- even before Calvary. Thereafter too He would do so, not underneath but rather with the Spirit -- especially on Pentecost Sunday.
For the infallible and sinless Christ Himself was only baptized at all -- precisely so that His fallen yet sin-hating Christ-ians could thus be benefitted! They therefore now share in His Own baptism. They also partake of all of the many blessings of Christ Himself -- blessings which His Own baptism depicts for them. Accordingly, Christ would have His followers to be baptized -- both with water and with Spirit -- in the same way He Himself had been baptized, for them!
Thus, Jesus Christ would baptize His Christ-ians not by submersing but precisely by sprinkling them -- as He Himself had been, for them. This is why Lactantius writes of Christ: "He was baptized...so He might save the Gentiles also by baptism -- that is, by the sprinkling of the dew of purification."259
For Jesus Himself told His disciples: "With the baptism that I am baptized -- you shall be baptized!" Thus, just as Christ Himself was sprinkled, so too should all His disciples be -- at their own baptism!
Also Kittel rightly rejects the subversionistic notion of being "immersed in Christ." For, as he declares: "The idea of a mystically understood medium of baptism is always and in every respect wide of the mark!"
Of course, the traditionalistic Pharisees were -- quite unnecessarily -- constantly washing or 'baptizing' themselves. Yet even they were doing so -- not at all by total submersion, but by 'sprinkling' water over their hands!
However, unlike the Pharisees, Jesus Himself was not thus re-baptized! For He did not constantly get "washed" or "baptized" -- every time He ate. Indeed, He poured water into a basin -- when once washing Peter's dusty feet at dinner. Yet at that time, He refused to wash Peter's hands -- in addition. Indeed, He so refused -- even after Peter himself had wrongly requested Jesus to wash him still more extensively!
* * * * * * *
For John the Baptist had not predicted that Jesus would submerse people under the Holy Spirit. To the contrary, John had declared that Christ would "baptize...with the Holy Ghost."
Also Jesus had promised that He Himself would baptize -- by sending His Spirit "upon" His apostles! They would thus be "en-dued" -- or "clothed with" -- power from on high. To them the Lord Jesus Christ declared: "You shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost!"
This Spirit-baptism occurred, when "suddenly there came a sound from heaven like a rushing mighty wind." This was a stormy gust, bringing holy rain from God! "Cloven tongues like as of fire...sat upon each of them, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost."
The apostle Peter was one of those thus baptized with the Holy Spirit. Right then, as an eye-witness, he himself declared: "This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel!"
Now Joel had predicted a rainstorm -- such as the one Peter himself had just then experienced when Christ baptized him with the Holy Spirit. Joel had spoken of "a day of clouds" and "the noise of a flame of fire." He had described the gathering of God's people -- "the congregation" of "the elders" and "the children" together with "those that suck the breasts."
Joel had then explained how God would also "cause to come down the rain -- the former rain and the latter rain" -- together! Through Joel, God had predicted: "I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.... Also upon the servants and upon the handmaids, in those days -- will I pour out My Spirit!"
Peter felt he needed to describe the baptismal anointing with the Spirit, which he himself had just experienced on Pentecost Sunday. So Peter did so -- precisely by citing the latter words of Joel's prophecy, and by applying those words to Peter's own recent experience of Spirit-baptism.
Said Peter: "This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel: 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out...My Spirit upon all flesh. And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.... And on My [man-]servants and on My handmaidens I will pour out in those days from My Spirit!'"
* * * * * * *
Peter next immediately told his listeners that the risen and ascended Christ had gone to heaven and "received from the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost." And so -- Peter explained that Christ had just now "shed forth this" promise. For He had right then "poured out" that promise -- in the baptism of His Spirit!
Peter then promptly urged his listeners: "Repent and be baptized every one of you -- in the Name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins! ... For the promise is unto you -- and to your children!"
Fully "three thousand" were thereupon baptized -- that very same day. Even the hypothetical logistics of trying to perform so many baptisms specifically by submersion, are simply mind-boggling. For all three thousand would in that case have needed to be submersed -- after nine o'clock in the morning, and before sunset that same afternoon!
Of course, the three thousand were baptized not by submersion -- but by sprinkling! And Peter never forgot this. Even many years later, he still "remembered the saying of the Lord, how that He had said: 'John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost!'"
Peter remembered this -- precisely when he himself was about to baptize the various members of the household of Cornelius. Peter had now just told them how, "after the baptism which John preached," God the Father had "anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost." Then, "while Peter yet spoke these words, the Holy Ghost fell on them all."
On the Gentiles too the gift of the Holy Ghost had just been "poured out." So Peter then immediately baptized them. He "commanded them to be baptized with the name of the Lord." For nobody could any longer "forbid the water -- so that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Ghost just as we did!"
Peter soon gave a report to the other apostles of these events in the life of Cornelius and his family. Peter reported how "the Holy Ghost fell on them -- as upon us at the beginning! Then I remembered the saying of the Lord, how He had said: 'John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.' Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as He did to us who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ -- who was I to withstand God?" That is: 'How could I then still withhold the water from them?'
All possibility of water baptism by total submersion, is here precluded. For it was not that Cornelius's family could be withheld -- from the water. It was not that they could be kept back from coming to it in order to be submersed under it. Quite to the contrary! Peter could no longer withhold the water -- from them! So, that unwithheld water was now brought to them -- for them to be sprinkled with it!
For Peter knew that the correct mode or "figure" of "baptism" was not that of total immersion. It was not like the submersion of the unbaptized ungodly, during Noah's flood. To the contrary. Peter knew that baptism was like the rainwater which poured down on the roof of the ark over the heads of Noah's faithful family. For Peter knew that only just such a symbolic sprinkling -- as a rainlike representation -- signifies the "sprinkling of the blood of Jesus" which alone saves!
* * * * * * *
Also Philip apparently maintained the same mode. Consequently, after he baptized the Samaritans with water, it seems he also saw them being baptized with the Holy Spirit. That was when the Spirit fell upon them. Hands were laid "upon" them -- while "they received the Holy Ghost."
Philip next met an Ethiopian, who had just read in Isaiah how the Saviour would "sprinkle many nations." The Ethiopian then wanted to get baptized. Seeing some water there in the desert, he climbed down from his chariot -- and sought the sprinkling about which he had just been reading.
So he and Philip "both" walked toward that water. There, Philip "baptized" the Ethiopian. Then, neither having been totally submerged -- they both came up away from the water and went back toward the chariot.
* * * * * * *
Paul too seems to have upheld baptism by sprinkling. Before his conversion, he had -- as a Pharisee -- been accustomed to sprinkling. Soon after his conversion, he himself "arose and was baptized.."
Now Paul never forgot how he had been baptized! Many years later, he could still recall the words of Ananias just before he had baptized Paul: "Brother Saul..., why do you keep on tarrying? Arise and be baptized!"
When Paul "arose" to be "baptized" -- he was not going "down." Arising, he was doing the very opposite of being submersed under water! Later, Paul met some men whom he himself similarly "baptized in the Name of Jesus." Thus, "when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them." Again, only sprinkling is suggested; submersion seems impossible.
Nor did Paul imply that either the Roman or the Colossian Christians had ever been baptized by submersion. Instead, he reminded them both -- that they had previously been 'funeralised' in baptism. For then they had been 'honoured with funeral rites' -- together with Christ!
Christ at His burial was not submersed, down under the earth. Instead, He was placed up on a ledge -- after being sprinkled with spices. And at their own baptism, Christians were buried with Christ -- and baptized into His death! Rom. 6:3-4.
* * * * * * *
Paul also implies that the whole households of sanctified Corinthian Christians -- at the time of their baptism -- had been "watered" or sprinkled like plants. Thus he reminds them that even their spiritual ancestors, the Israelites, "were all baptized...with the cloud." That occurred "when the clouds poured out water" -- while the Israelites, together with their babies, went through the Red Sea on dry land!
Here, Kittel rightly reflects: "Baptizein means technically 'to baptize in water'" -- meaning 'with water.' Otherwise, "the notion of being baptized in Moses, would be meaningless -- and would clash with a second spatial indication in I Cor 10:2 (en teei nepheleei)." The latter means with and hence "in the cloud." But this presupposes not submersion but sprinkling!
Compare the statements in I Cor. 1:12f, 3:6f and 12:13. "Were you baptized? ... Apollos watered.... You have all been baptized....and have all been drenched....."
Paul reminded the Galatian Christians that all who had been "baptized into Christ, have put on Christ" -- like a helmet. He also reminded the Ephesian Christians of their need to keep on wearing their "helmet of salvation" on their head -- after he himself had earlier baptized some in Ephesus and laid his hands "upon" them.
He now further reminded the Ephesian Christians that there was but "one baptism." For, after Christ "ascended up on high" -- on Pentecost Sunday He then "gave gifts to men." Christ did so, when He baptized His apostles with His Spirit. For it was then that Christ shed forth His Spirit, and poured out His gifts like Joel's rain..
Similarly, Paul reminded Titus that Christians had been saved "by the washing of regeneration." That was at their "renewing by the Holy Ghost which He shed on us" -- or 'poured out' over us.
* * * * * * *
Irrespective of the Pauline authorship of the inspired Epistle to the Hebrews, the latter definitively deals with "the doctrine of baptisms." Indeed, it even seems very appropriately to compare them to "the rain.."
Moreover, while still discussing these 'various baptisms' or "divers washings," it thrice describes them as sprinklings. Indeed, it reminds all of us Christians that we have had "our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water."
Hebrews further reminds Christians that it was by faith that also Moses "kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood." It also states that, soon thereafter, Moses and the Israelites "passed through the Red Sea as by dry land."
Indeed, the Epistle also reminds Christians that they had come to "Mount Zion" and "the heavenly Jerusalem" alias the "church of the firstborn." For they had come "to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant -- and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel."
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Now baptism is the sign and seal of this sprinkled blood of Christ! For the latter speaks of better things than did the sprinkled blood of Abel. It speaks of better things than did the sprinkled rain of Noah's flood. It speaks of better things than did the cloud 'baptism' of the Israelites at their exodus from Egypt. Of course, Abel's blood and Noah's rain and the baptismal cloud of Moses -- all pointed to that much superior sprinkling with the powerful blood of Jesus.
Peter's First Epistle (3:18f) reminds Christians that "Christ has suffered for sins once and for all..., so that He might bring us to God.... The longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah while the ark was being prepared -- in which...eight persons were delivered by water. Baptism, the antitype of this, delivers us now -- not as a putting off of filth from the flesh, but as the answer of a good conscience toward God through the resurrection of Christ."
As Rev. Dr. Gerhard Kittel explains: "The water of baptism was...regarded as an antitype of the Flood (I Pet 3:21) -- and the Red Sea (I Cor 10:1f). It now flows as 'Jordan' into the font.... It cannot be proved that infant baptism was an innovation adopted in the middle of the second century." For, precisely in the light of I Pet 3:20f, household baptism (and indeed specifically by sprinkling) is seen very clearly to be an apostolic ordinance -- and one with even antediluvian family roots!
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Also the apostle John seems to presuppose the baptisms of households -- and also indeed specifically by sprinkling them on their foreheads. For he reminds even the "little children" that they too have received a sealing "unction" or an "anointing."
Thus, God's "angel" or messenger -- probably meaning His 'Minister of the Word and Sacraments' -- seals "the servants of the living God." He does so -- on their foreheads." Indeed, God permits His plague of scorpion-locusts to "hurt...only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads."
These wicked people do not have God's seal "on their foreheads." They do not have it "on their foreheads!" Yet God's servants are sealed -- in baptism -- with the '333' mark of the Trinity!
For this reason, they should never fear the Satanic seal of "666" -- which precisely the ungodly receive on their foreheads! For the godly, on the other hand, have been brought into contact with the "baptized" (or 'dyed') garment of their Saviour -- viz. "a vesture dyed with blood!"
Thus does John's Revelation describe the Saviour's own prediction in Isaiah. It is the prediction, foretold the Saviour there, that "blood shall be sprinkled" -- and indeed sprinkled upon -- My garments!"
Because of that sprinkling with His blood, the elect shall always keep on seeing His blessed face -- even in glory! Then and there -- all the nations will indeed have been baptized, in terms of the Great Commission.
Then and thereafter, they shall therefore keep on dwelling in the New Jerusalem -- unto all eternity. For "His Name shall be on their foreheads..., for ever and ever!"
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So, in the words of the title of this present monograph, Sprinkling is Scriptural. However, submersion is subversion. By calling submersion 'subversion' -- we mean that it subverts the Scriptural sprinkling of Holy Writ. Submersion is subversion -- for it is not the mandated mode of Biblical Baptism.
Indeed, immersion-ism -- the absolutization of submersion as the only manner in which the Sacrament should be dispensed -- is heterodoxy. Moreover, it contains the seeds even of horrible heresies -- such as baptismal regenerationism, as taught by many of the cults.
Here, we have not been arguing against the validity of Christian baptisms performed by partial immersion or even by total submersion. Instead, we have been arguing that the fetish of submersion-ism -- the magical notion that all non-submersional purported Christian baptisms are ipso facto invalid -- is itself unscriptural and ritualistic. What is more -- it is sacramentarian, sectarian and schismatic!
Quite frankly, the very title of the Adamthwaite's article Baptism is Immersion! is at least 'heretical' (alias divisive) -- if not apostate (or anti-christian). For it not merely claims that Christian baptism is best administered by submersion. Nor does it merely claim that valid baptism can be administered only by submersion. Taken at face value, the title arrogantly asserts that 'Baptism is immersion! By which pretentious title, it means that baptism is total submersion, and total submersion alone.
Consistently, this must mean that all those who have been submersed -- have then and there been baptized. Conversely, it also implies that not to have been submersed -- is not to have become a Member of the Visible Christian Church.
It further implies that the submersionistic rites of non-trinitarian cults like "Jehovah's witnesses" and "Mormons" -- because performed by total immersion -- therefore meet the requirements of Adamthwaite's Baptistic baptism! Conversely, it also implies that all Scriptural sprinklings in the Name of the Triune God do not constitute baptism -- not even when performed by Adamthwaite's fellow-trinitarian Anglicans, Lutherans, Congregationalists, Independents, Methodists and Presbyterians etc!
We ourselves could never take the opposite view -- the crude view that a trinitarian submersion does not qualify as a valid Christian baptism. To us, is it obvious that also submersionists were unintentionally sprinkled during their baptisms. Those baptisms, though highly irregular, are therefore nevertheless still valid.
Yet we see Christian baptism as neither submersion nor sprinkling -- as such. It is rather the ingrafting of Christ-professing candidates and their children into the Visible Church. It is their incorporation into Christ's visible body -- with water; by the Spirit; in the Name of God Triune!
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Thus, we entirely agree with the Westminster Confession of Faith. This states that to signify their adoption, "the children of God have His Name put upon them." For "baptism is a Sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the Visible Church, but also to be unto Him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace....
"The outward element to be used in this Sacrament, is water -- wherewith the party is to be baptized in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary; but baptism is rightly [we repeat ‘rightly’] administered by pouring or sprinkling water upon the person [we repeat sprinkling]. Heb 9:10,19-22; Acts [1:5 & 2:1-17f &] 2:41; 16:33; Mark 7:4 [& cf. too I Pet 3:20f with Gen 7:4f and I Cor 10:1f with Pss 77:15-17 & 78:12-14].
"Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one or both believing parents are to be baptized. Gen 17:7-9; Galatians 3:9,14; Col 2:11; Acts 2:38f; Rom 4:11; I Cor 7:14; Mt 28:19; Mk 10:13f; Lk 18:15.... It be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance. Lk 7:30; Ex 4:24-26.... The Sacrament of baptism is but once to be administered to any person. Gal 3:27; Tit 3:5; Eph 5:25f; Acts 2:38-41."
Now we ourselves truly love all godly Christians! We also love even those of our Christian brethren who erroneously submerse. Indeed, we love them -- more than we care for those Presbyterians who compromise their convictions! Yet we must also state that -- whenever Christian baptism is to be administered -- we definitely prefer Scriptural sprinkling to 'improper' immersion and to subversive submersion.
The Baptistic Adamthwaite seems to be unaware of the great Presbyterian Rev. Dr. James W. Dale and his massive defence of Scriptural sprinkling. We ourselves, on the other hand, thoroughly agree with Dale's conclusions.
As Jay Adams declares in his Foreword to the recent Adams-Countess reprint of Dale: "No other work on baptism begins to approximate James Wilkinson Dale." Such is his five-part set on "Classic Baptism, Judaic Baptism, Johannic Baptism, Christic [and Apostolic Baptism], and Patristic Baptism." These are "comprehensive volumes on the use of the word baptizoo.... There is nothing like Dale's work in all of Christian literature!"
At the end of his volume on Classic Baptism, after a lifetime of study, Dale gives his own conclusion. Even in Pre-Christian Pagan Greek literature, baptein often means "to affect...without the act of dipping; e.g., to sprinkle blood." For baptizein often means "to affect...without the condition of mersion; e.g., to sprinkle poppy-juice; to pour water," etc.
After scrutinizing Sacred Scripture, we must also agree with Dr. Jay Adams himself. As he states in his own book The Meaning and Mode of Baptism, "immersion...must be discounted."
For baptism by total submersion is not a divine but a purely human institution. It is a 'tradition of men.' As Adams concludes, it is a "custom not only lacking Scriptural support, but completely out of accord with the Scriptural mode of baptism!"325
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For in Biblical times, baptism was administered solely by sprinkling. Such is the testimony of both the Older and the Newer Testaments of God's Infallible Word.
In the Older Testament, just compare, cumulatively: Gen 28:18; 35:14; Ex 4:9; 9:8-10,33; 12:7,21-23,37; 14:21-29; 15:8-10; 24:6-20; 29:7-21; 30:9f; Lev 1:5-11; 2:1-6; 3:2-13; 4:6-34; 5:9; 6:27; 7:2-14; 8:11-24; 9:9-18; 14:3-51; 16:14-19; 17:6-13; 21:10; Num 8:6f; 18:17; 19:4-21; Dt 12:16,24,27; 15:23; Josh 3:13-17; I Kgs 18:5,31-33,44f (cf John 1:21-25 & 3:23-26 & Mt 11:13f & 17:11-13 & Lk 7:28-33); II Kgs 5:1-3, 10,14 (cf. Lev 14:3-7); Ps 77:16-17; Prov 1:23; Isa 21:4; 32:15; 44:1-4; 45:8; 52:15; 53:12; 63:3; Song 1:3; Ezk 11:5; 36:18,25f; 39:29; Dan 4:15,23,33; 5:21; 7:14,22; 9:24-27; Joel 2:16f,23-28; Zech 12:10; and Mal 3:1-3,10 & 4:5f.
The last verses of the Old Testament on Scriptural sprinkling are continued in the first verses of the New. There, consult: Mt 3:1-17; Mk 7:1-8; Lk 1:15-17; 3:4-22; 11:38; 24:49; John 1:21-25,31-33; 3:22-26; 13:5-10; Acts 1:4f; 2:1-3,16-18,33,38f; 10:37-39,44-48; 11:15-17f; 19:5f; I Cor 1:16; 3:6-8; 6:11; 7:14; 10:1-2; Eph 4:4-8; Heb 6:1f; 9:10-21; 10:22; 11:28f; 12:22-25; I Pet 1:2; 3:20f; and Rev 7:3-4; 9:4; 14:9f; 19:13; 20:3-4; & 22:2-4.
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Last -- and without argumentation -- we simply state the baptismal mode described in the writings of the most ancient Early Patristic Fathers. All of them, without any exception, upheld first-century Christian baptism -- solely by sprinkling!
Thus,already in the second century, we find baptism by sprinkling in the Epistle of Barnabas, in the Didache alias the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, and in Justin Martyr. We also find it in Irenaeus, in Tertullian I, and in Basilides.
In the third century, we find baptism by sprinkling in Clement of Alexandria and in Hippolytus. We also encounter it in Origen, in Cyprian, and in Dionysius Alexandrinus.
In the fourth century, we find baptism by sprinkling in: Eusebius; Lactantius; Athanasius; the Apostolic Constitutions; and Cyril of Jerusalem. We also find it referred to in: Hilary; Basil; Gregory Nazianzen; Gregory of Nyssa; the Second Council of Constantinople; Ambrose; Didymus of Alexandria; and Jerome.
Finally, in the fifth century -- just before the Church's immersion into the Dark Ages! -- we still find Scriptural sprinkling in the baptisms administered by Cyril of Alexandria and Theodoret. Significantly, sprinkling is also the sole baptismal practice constantly upheld in the ancient Armenian Liturgical Codex.
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The relevant citations from all of the above, should all be studied in their original languages (chiefly Greek or Latin). Most of these citations are contained in Robert Ayres's 627-page standard work on the mode of Christian baptism during the apostolic and early-patristic ages.
Only from about 350 A.D. onward, did the deformation of sprinkling as the Biblical mode of baptism -- increasingly take root. This was the result of the influx into the Church -- of paganizing heresies in general, and of the submersionistic heathen 'mystery religions' in particular.
These deformatory tendencies included even prebaptismal perversions. Such were: the unnecessary delaying of baptism; the requiring of godparents or other non-parental sponsors; fasting by the candidate; the tasting of milk and honey; anointing; exorcism; exsufflations; divesting unto nakedness; and, alternatively, clothing the neophyte in white.
Further deformations at the time of baptism itself, then and thenceforth included: consecration of the water; baptismal regenerationism; transferring a 'kiss of peace'; immediate post-baptismal communion (including even paidocommunion); and, finally, transubstantiationism.
Of all the above errors, the paganistic and paganizing heresy of magical baptismal regenerationism was probably the most dangerous. Especially this insidious evil, particular from the middle of the fourth century onward, promoted the rapid advance of the further error of total submersionism.
Only at the advent of the Protestant Reformation in general, and of paidobaptist Presbyterianism in particular, was this paganizing perversion fully reversed. For it was then that Biblical baptism -- with its meaningful mode of Scriptural sprinkling -- was reformatorily restored!