Re: Baptism

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Feb 24 1999 - 08:39:40 EST

At 12:55 PM +0000 2/24/99, Blahoslav Cicel wrote:
>translating EIS hEN SOMA (1 Cor. 12.13) as "for to be one body" is only
>an exegesis of "into one boby". At the moment you are put INTO the body
>(as long as you are not considered an intruder) you become a part of the
>body and you ARE ONE BODY with all the rest.
>So, you can understand it both ways - directional or intentional
>(telic). That is my opinion.
>As support to that view cf. Mt 3:11 where John the Baptist sais: EGO MEN
>hUMAS BAPTIZO *EN* hUDATI *EIS* METANOIAN. In Mk 1:8 there is no
>preposition at all: EGO EBAPTISA hUMAS hUDATI. Similar in Lk 3:16: EGO
>Could I see the difference between EN, EIS and EPI this way?
>EN TW ONOMATI stands as opposing to the (EN) hUDATI to display the
>difference between the baptism of John and Jesus.
>EIS TO ONOMA stands as the paralle to the EIS METANOIAN (in the telic
>sense) to express the goal of identification with the ONOMA thus the
>person of Jesus.
>EPI TW ONOMATI stands to declare the base of the faith - Jesus is the
>The different facets of one fact.
>If I'm wrong (or I'm trying to be too accurate), shot me down :) -> :(

OK, I'll shot you down ;-) , but gently, I hope. And possibly even misguidedly.

I rather think you're trying to be more accurate than the Greek text calls
for; at any rate, I don't think these prepositions are intended to indicate
marked differences of perspective on baptism, and I'd take note of the fact
that Clay Bartholomew stated yesterday, that EPI in Acts 2 has EN as a
textual variant in a couple important MSS, meaning at least that the
scribes questioned the reading EPI, even if it is older.

A couple observations here, based on nothing more than my opinion, one that
has fermented for quite some time and that I may well have gotten from some
unknown source in reading at one time or another:
(1) TO ONOMA IHSOU = IHSOUS. This surmise of mine is either wrong or
self-explanatory: (a) grammatically, ONOMA means the noun (Lat. NOMEN) used
to refer to any person, place, or thing; (b) Hebraic usage may play a role
here too: ha SHEM = IHWH, when one hesitates to pronounce the word YHWH.
Therefore, I think it's fair to say that EN TWi ONOMATI IHSOU is identical
in meaning with EN TWi IHSOU, EIS TO ONOMA IHSOU will be identical in
meaning with EIS TON IHSOUN, and EPI TWi ONOMATI IHSOU (if that reading is
correct) will be identical in meaning with EPI TWi IHSOU.
(2) Regardless of the narrative function given the story of the baptism of
Jesus by each evangelist, I would suppose that the Sitz-im-Leven of the
original story in oral tradition is functioning as the "foundation myth" of
the ritual of baptism in the Christian community: each baptizand enters
into the water as did Jesus himself, then issues from it reborn to be
greeted by the community as a favored child of God, a brother or sister of
IF that is the case, then it seems to me that these different phrasings of
BAPTIZW EPI TWi ONOMATI IHSOU all actually mean the same thing as the
Pauline formula of 1 Cor 12:13 EIS hEN SWMA: each baptizand is baptized
INTO the body of Christ, each becomes incorporate IN Jesus Christ himself:
he is the means and the end of the process of baptism.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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