RE: Why isn't BAPTIZW translate

From: James H. Vellenga (
Date: Thu Sep 19 1996 - 09:12:47 EDT

From Andrew Kulikovsky:
> Yes, this is certainly true but the problem with BAPTIZW is that to the
> person with no or little knowledge of the Bible/Church History/Church
> practice (and there are LOTS of these people around today) it is a
> mystical or even meaningless word. Granted, there are many
> transliterations in English (especially of Greek and Latin words) but
> these words are generally understood by most people - even if
> they are not aware of their origins.
> The denominational thing aside, my motivation, my drive and my
> ministry is to present the truth of the Bible to others in an accurate,
> responsible and CLEAR way. I want to make the Bible come alive!
> Words like "baptize" in the text makes this difficult because it
> conjures up all sorts of unwarranted or inaccurate thoughts, ideas
> and connatations.
I find myself sharing Andrew's concern. Existing translations
frustrate me a lot -- I have to do a lot of internal mental translations
when talking to people (and there are increasingly many) who are
not literate in the conventional biblical lingo.

From Stephen Carlson:
> The evidence that BAPTIZW became a technical term in the NT is that
> of the approximately 80 occurrences of the word, *all* of them have
> a ritual sense, whether Jewish or Christian (so BAGD). Carson does
> discuss the "technical term" fallacy, but he did not discuss BAPTIZW
> in specific nor gave much guidance in identifying it. He did say that
> merely 8 occurrences of a specialized meaning is not sufficient to
> demonstrate a technical term, yet we are dealing with about 80 such
> cases (with *no* real counterexamples). However, when the NT writers
> wanted to say that something was immersed or dipped in a non-religious
> sense, they used the word BAPTW (e.g., Jn13:26 Rv19:13). If this is
> not evidence to suggest technical term, I'd like to know what is.
Could I suggest an alternate hypothesis -- something along the
line that BAPTW is used for dipping an object (generally inanimate)?
while BAPTIZW (which contains the causative particle -IZ-) is used
when you help another person to get dipped? I'm not saying that
BAPTIZW didn't take on a ritual & technical meaning, but that the
original usage may have had that kind of distinction.

It seems to me that there must have been some reason for making
the distinction originally. The words (according to the Perseus
site) do seem to go back to the classical period -- although I
think I've heard that ritual baptisms do too.

And again from Andrew:
> *all* of them have a ritual sense ?
> *no* real counter examples ?
> I think you should take a closer look at some of the occurences. The
> following instances don't have any ritualistic sense (Jewish or
> Christian):
> Rom. 6:3
> 1 Cor 10:2
> 1 Cor 12:13
> Gal 3:27
Yet it seems to me, as a casual reader, that these _are_ referencing
the ritual act in a metaphorical sense.

And also from Andrew:
> Yes really. The poured water in verse 3 is an example of how to
> full the hOUTW BAPTISATE "Baptize thus" command in verse 1,
> IF THOU HAST NEITHER. The first two options should be
> preferred. The 3rd is a last resort. (Also remember that the
> Didache is only an interpretation and doesn't claim divine
> inspiration).
However, the Didache is useful (divine inspiration or not) for
determining how people of nearly the same period interpreted
the words it uses.

For my personal use, I do translate BAPTIZW as "immerse" -- but
think of it as a ritual act.


James H. Vellenga |
Viewlogic Systems, Inc. __|__ 508-303-5491
293 Boston Post Road West | FAX: 508-460-8213
Marlboro, MA 01752-4615 |

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:37:52 EDT