Re: Baptism

From: Perry L. Stepp (
Date: Thu Feb 25 1999 - 10:31:07 EST

Boy, I'm going to get my knuckles rapped for this one! I'm not even going
to mention Greek! Ah, well.

I have no desire to start an off-topic thread--although I don't mind
discussing this further offlist. But I simply must offer this observation
from a wanna-be NT theologian:

Carl wrote:
>(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

I have problems with seeing the baptism of Jesus as a "foundation myth,"
because it's never referred to elsewhere in the NT. No NT writer, when
writing about baptism, no matter what their audience, said (wrote) "Be
baptized because Jesus was baptized." Nor do any of them refer to Jesus'
baptism--unless my memory fails me horribly. The only references to Jesus'
baptism are the narrative retellings of the event. The believers' baptisms
are always linked to Jesus' death (which admittedly he himself links with
baptism), not with his baptism at the hands of John.

I suspect that the narrative retellings of the event in the gospels are
aimed at establishing a relationship of continuity yet disjunction with
Judaism--Jews being baptized by John as if they were proselytes, and all
that. I don't see anything that functions mythically here.

My .02 worth.


Pastor, DeSoto Christian Church, DeSoto TX
DCC's webpage:
Ph.D. Candidate in Religion, Baylor University
#1 Cowboy Fan

A great deal of intelligence can be invested in
ignorance when the need for illusion is great.
        --Saul Bellow


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