Re: Mark 7:4

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue May 02 2000 - 14:43:19 EDT

At 1:23 PM -0500 5/2/00, Harold R. Holmyard III wrote:
>Dear Wayne,
> It is interesting that you would translate BAPTIZW as referring to the
>"washing" of anything, because I have long felt that this aspect of the
>baptismal ceremony is often overlooked. We concentrate on the
>identification with Jesus' death and resurrection, but the original
>ceremony clearly implied a washing. And the church ordinance ought to
>preserve this idea. See Acts 22:16:
>"And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins,
>calling on his name."

But the Greek root BAF does seem to mean fundamentally plunge, immerse, or
soak (I've seen it used in contexts such as the tempering of white hot iron
in a water bath and the dying of wool by steeping it in the pigmented
liquid. And while I wouldn't perhaps want to push the matter too far, from
a ritual and symbolic perspective, the "washing" is simultaneously (1) a
dissolution into the waters of chaos and emergence as a new creation, and
(2) a KAQARSIS wherein what pollutes is separated off and what emerges is
KAQAROS, "clean," and "pure."


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

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