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

By Everett Ferguson | Go to book overview

29. Jerusalem in the Fourth Century

The influential church at Jerusalem provides fairly detailed evidence for baptismal practice at the mid–fourth century (from its bishop, Cyril of Jerusalem1) and at the end of the century (from the report of the pilgrim Egeria2). Both sources deal more with the ceremonies but provide information (especially Cyril) on the meaning of baptism.


Cyril of Jerusalem

Cyril was bishop of Jerusalem from about 350 until his death in 387, and he delivered the Procatechesis and the eighteen Catechetical Lectures either shortly before or (more likely) shortly after becoming bishop. The five Lectures on the Mysteries belong some thirty years later (after 382). Strong arguments have been advanced

1. A. Paulin, Saint Cyrille de Jérusalem: Catéchète (Paris: Cerf, 1959); Hugh M. Riley, Christian Initiation (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1974); Juliette Day, Baptism in Early Byzantine Palestine 325-451 (Bramcote: Grove, 1999), with references other than Cyril and Egeria for the period; more fully now in Juliette Day, The Baptismal Liturgy of Jerusalem: Fourth and Fifth Century Evidence from Palestine, Syria and Egypt (Abingdon: Ashgate, 2007); Edward J. Yarnold, Cyril of Jerusalem (London: Routledge, 2000); Raymond Burnish, The Meaning of Baptism: A Comparison of the Teaching and Practice of the Fourth Century with the Present Day (London: Alcuin Club/SPCK, 1985), pp. 1–22; Baby Varghese, Les onctions baptismales dans la tradition syrienne, Corpus scriptorum christianorum orientalium 512 (Louvain: Peeters, 1989), pp. 66–80.

2. George E. Gingras, Egeria: Diary of a Pilgrimage, Ancient Christian Writers 38 (New York: Newman, 1970); John Wilkinson, Egeria’s Travels to the Holy Land, 3rd ed. (Warminster: Aris and Phillips, 1999). P. Devos, in a series of articles in Analecta Bollandiana, argued successfully to the minds of most for 381-384 as the date for Egeria’s travels in the East — “La date du voyage d’Égérie,” 85 (1967): 165-194; “Égérie à Édesse,” 85 (1967): 381–400; “Égérie à Bethléem,” 86 (1968): 87–108 — but E. D. Hunt, “The Date of the Itinerarum Egeriae,” Studia patristica 38 (2001): 410–416, says the date could be in the 390s as well as the 380s.

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