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

By Everett Ferguson | Go to book overview

50. Gaul and North Africa: Gennadius of Marseilles,
Some African Councils, and Quodvultdeus
of Carthage

Gennadius of Marseilles

To Gennadius, presbyter in Marseilles at the end of the fifth century, is usually attributed the work De ecclesiasticis dogmatibus. Its chapter 74 (PL 58.997) contains a strong statement of the necessity of baptism for salvation and refers to affusion as an alternative to immersion.

We believe in the act of baptism for salvation. We believe that no catechumen, al-
though dying in good works, has eternal life, except by martyrdom, where the
whole sacrament of baptism is completed. The one being baptized confesses his
faith before the priest and answers when questioned. The martyr also does this
before the persecutor: he both confesses his faith and answers when questioned.
After the confession, he is either sprinkled (aspergitur) with water or immersed
(intingitur); the martyr indeed is either sprinkled (aspergitur) with blood or over-
come (contingitur) with fire. He receives the Holy Spirit by the imposition of hand
of the bishop.

The passage goes on to talk about the martyr having the equivalent of the eucharist, confession, renunciation, and sins forgiven. Because of the strong statement about the necessity of baptism and the elaboration of martyrdom bringing the equivalent of baptism, I wonder if the reference to aspersion has sickbed baptism in view.


Some African Councils

A supposed synod at Carthage in 398, whose canons are included in a later compilation, says that widows or virgins consecrated to God who are employed at the baptism of women must be competent to instruct ignorant women how to answer at

-770-

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