[B-Greek] No mode in BAPTIZW

frjsilver at optonline.net frjsilver at optonline.net
Tue Mar 7 20:07:11 EST 2006

Dear Friends- -

I'm not sure just what point Tom Logan is making here, so I'll just tell you what this word looks like to me.

Chantraine doesn't (yet) include it, but has a very productive entry on BAPTW, the verb of which BAPTIZW is a frequentative form.  Sometimes, but not always, frequentative forms suggest an imperfective aspect:  the notion that the verb's concept is incomplete, or repeated, or ongoing -- somehow a work in progress.

I think that this might be true of BAPTIZW.  Rather than simply 'plunge into' (active -- not middle) something liquid, BAPTIZW has the flavor of 'in and out' or 'over again', something perfectly consonant with the triple immersion still practiced by the orthodox, faintly imaged by the triple pouring of other Christians.  As described in the DIDACH, pouring and sprinkling are the least desirable methods of baptism, which then becomes analogous rather than actual, but still effective as a minimum when the maximum is truly impossible rather than just avoided.

There is a difference between 'immerse, dip' and 'submerge/emerge in a continuous action'.  To my taste, BAPTW means the former, and BAPTIZW the latter.

Jewish rites of purification require BAPTIZW in the _mikvah_:  the subject must be completely covered by the water, thoroughly washed by it, and then emerge.  This is just as true for observant Jewish women after menstruation as it is for converts to Judaism, and it is the pattern which the Christian Church adopted, emerging from Israel as it did, using familiar forms rather than new ones.

This is considered so important in _halakhah_ (principles of Jewish observance of the Law) that a community of Jews is obligated to build a _mikvah_ (pool for ritual purification) even before building a synagogue or commissioning the writing of a _sefer torah_.  People have to *live* rightly first, and then go on to the other things;  this is just as true of Christians as of Jews.

Please forgive the brief theological excursus (all these words are used in a  context), and I hope this helps a little.

Peace and blessings to all.

Father James

Monk James Silver
Orthodox Church in America

----- Original Message -----
From: Tom Logan <loganpresent at gmail.com>
Date: Tuesday, March 7, 2006 1:50 pm
Subject: [B-Greek] No mode in BAPTIZW

> Baptizo in the bible speaks not of a particular mode. It contains no
> instructions on how it is performed and is not self definning. It 
> does speak
> of an effect or result to be achieved. It refers to an action 
> whereby a
> certain state achieved. It does not describes a mode of 
> accomplishment.
> If you doubt this do the work for yourself. Find every occurance 
> of baptizo
> or baptismos in the new testament and in the septuagint (lxx with
> apocrapha).
> Check greek speaking jews. They note baptizo performed by 
> sprinkling and
> pouring. Check the greek fathers they note baptizo performed by 
> sprinklingand pouring as well as other means.
> Baptizo does not refer to a specific action. It may and does refer 
> to a
> general action of washing. Washing is an amodal word. That is it 
> is not
> confined to a particular mode. Rain washes , pouring water washes.
> Determination of word meaning in any era can be done only by 
> examining word
> use in that era.  There is no instance in secular greek previous 
> to the
> first century where baptizo provides for emmersion. What baptizo 
> puts into
> it leaves in and makes no provision for removal.
> This is so in the bible.  For example in the bible baptizo is into 
> Christ,into moses, into the death of Christ, into remission of 
> sin. None of these
> can be called a dipping. Thus dipping is neither a valid biblical 
> greekmeaning nor is it a secular grek meaning capable of 
> influencing jewish use.
> If you want to determine how religious jewish greeks used this 
> term you must
> go to to the use of this term by greek speaking jews. lexicons 
> often dont do
> this for you and You need to dig it out for yourself.
> Tom Logan.
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