Baptism in the Early Church: History, Theology, and Liturgy in the First Five Centuries

By Everett Ferguson | Go to book overview

21. Carthage: Tertullian

Tertullian wrote the first surviving treatise on baptism,1 and that will provide the main source for our treatment, supplemented by his other fairly frequent comments. Tertullian’s On Baptism may have originated in instruction given to those preparing for baptism or recently baptized,2 but since it contains an antiheretical thrust3 and other material dealing more broadly with baptism, its present form may be seen as a general treatment of the subject.


Antecedents to Christian Baptism

Tertullian noted antecedents to baptism in the use of water in religious ceremonies by pagans (Baptism 5.1-3).4 He describes these pagan rituals in Christian terms, asserting they were demonic imitations. Their waters are “barren,” in contrast to the waters where God’s angel imparts power to them (5.1, 4–7).

Tertullian, furthermore, contrasted Christian with Jewish practice. “Jewish Israel washes [lavat] every day, because every day it is defiled. That this might not become the practice among us is the reason why the rule was laid down about a single washing [lavacro].”5 Tertullian is once more reading someone else’s practice in Christian terms, for he has in mind moral sin and not ritual purification.

1. Ernest Evans, ed. and trans., Tertullian’s Homily on Baptism (London: SPCK, 1965). See his introduction, pp. xii–xxxiii, for the contents of the treatise, the baptismal service known to Tertullian, and Tertullian’s doctrine of baptism. See also Jean Razette, “La condition du chrétien d’après le De Baptismo de Tertullien,” Antonianum 49 (1974): 14–46. I use Evans’s translation with occasional modifications.

2. Baptism 1.1 indicates that Tertullian has in view both “those at present under instruction” and those who have simply believed but “have not examined the reasons for what has been conferred upon them”; but 20.5 addresses those whom “the grace of God is waiting.”

3. It begins by referring to a woman of the Cainites who denied baptism — see chap. 17.

4. Discussed in chapter 2.

5. Baptism 15.3; he had earlier (15.1) appealed to the Lord’s Gospel (probably a reference to John 13:10, cited in 12.3) and the apostle’s letter (Eph. 4:5) for Christians having a single baptism.

-336-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Baptism in the Early Church: History, Theology, and Liturgy in the First Five Centuries
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 953

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.