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

By Everett Ferguson | Go to book overview

30. Writers in Syriac in the
Fourth Century: Aphrahat

Our approach is to take an analytical look at the principal Syriac authors of the fourth century. They give a similar picture of the baptismal practice and theology of Syriac-speaking churches, although with characteristic emphases.1

Aphrahat (Aphraates in Latin), the “Persian Sage,” was later reported to have been bishop at the monastery of Mar Mattai (near modern Mosul, Iraq) in the Adiabene region of Persia. Internal evidence from his writings indicates he was an ascetic, a member of the “Sons of the Covenant” (addressed in Demonstrations 6),2 and probably a bishop (giving instruction to pastors in Dem. 10 and writing Dem. 14 on behalf of a synod). His literary remains are twenty-three Demonstrations, written and preserved in Syriac and early translated (for the most part) into Armenian. His chronological information gives a date of 336/337 for the first ten, 343/344 for the next twelve; number twenty-three would come from 345.

None of Aphrahat’s surviving works is devoted to baptism, but he makes enough references to baptism to permit some conclusions about the baptismal rite with which he was familiar and about his theology of baptism.3

1. B. Botte, “Le baptême dans l’Église syrienne,” L’Orient Syrien 1 (1956): 137–155, is concerned only with the rite and with Syrian Antioch, so he surveys authors treated in other chapters and does not include Aphrahat and Ephraem.

2. The “Sons of the Covenant” were not identical with those who took a vow of celibacy, for the former could marry — Dem. 6.4.

3. E. J. Duncan, Baptism in the Demonstrations of Aphraates the Persian Sage, Studies in Christian Antiquity 8 (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1945), whose copious references from earlier and contemporary Christian writers demonstrate Aphrahat’s continuity with Christian tradition; E. J. Duncan, “The Administration of Baptism in the Demonstrations of Aphraates,” in Jacok Vellian, ed., Studies on Syrian Baptismal Rites, Syrian Churches Series, Vol. 6 (Kottayam: CMS Press, 1973), pp. 16–36; Baby Varghese, Les onctions baptismales dans la tradition syrienne, Corpus scriptorum christianorum orientalium 512 (Louvain: Peeters, 1989); Jaroslav Z. Skira, “‘Circumcise Thy Heart’: Aphrahat’s Theology of Baptism,” Diakonia 31 (1998): 115–128, which despite its title does not discuss circumcision. For English translations I use (and quote) Kuriakose Valavanolickal, Aphra-

-489-

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.