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

By Everett Ferguson | Go to book overview

48. Asia Minor and Constantinople

Two very rhetorical homilies on the baptism of Christ may be surveyed for information on early Byzantine baptismal practice and thought before turning to evidence for the rite in Constantinople from a church historian, from a fifth-century bishop of the city, and from a later liturgical text incorporating early materials.


Theodotus of Ancyra

Theodotus (d. before 446) was bishop of Ancyra. There is attributed to him a homily “On the Holy Theophany,” although there are doubts about the attribution.1 This sermon on the Lord’s baptism takes its text from Matthew 3:12-17.2 The treatment of the Lord’s humility is an example of Theodotus’s rhetorical style:

The Master comes to the servant, the King to the soldier, the One who needs noth-
ing to the one in need, the Giver to the borrower, the Reality to the shadow, the
Word to the voice [John 1:23], the express image to the type. (5)

The significance of the baptism of Christ is announced in the beginning of the homily:

The fountains are purified, the rivers are washed clean, the Lamb [John 1:29, ē6] is
washed

and the world is thoroughly washed ,

1. It is Homily 7 of Theodotus of Ancyra in Codex Parisianus gr. 1171 (tenth century), ff. 240r245r. I use the Greek text and French translation of Michel Aubineau, “Une homilie grecque inédite attribuée à Theodote d’Ancyre, sur le baptême du Seigneur,” in

(1969), pp. 3–28 (text and translation on pp. 10–21).

2. For earlier treatments of the baptism of Christ see chaps. 6 and 7. The name “Theophany” for the baptism of Christ accords with the usage of Constantinople — Justin Mossay, Les fêtes de Noël et d’Épiphanie d’après les sources littéraires Cappadociennes du IVe siècle (Louvain: Abbaye du Mont César, 1965), p. 23, on the usage of Proclus and likely Basil of Caesarea.

-745-

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