- Baptism Questions - some questions I'd like to sort out
- What Did Baptism Mean? - a look at how the Greek terms get used and translated in other literature
- Baptism without Water - a look at baptism references that are not talking about water
- Baptism and Culture - It seems Christianity adopted a common custom of the time.
- The Heart of Baptism - What is at the heart of this ritual
- Who Can Baptize? - Do we think Matt 28:18 - 20 is addressed only for the clergy?
- When Should Believers Be Baptized - At what age? At what level of maturity?
- Baptism With The Holy Spirit - comparing immersion with water and with the Holy Spirit
What did the word baptism mean? As I work through some questions on baptism, this seems like a good place to start.
It turns out for some reason the Bible translators have chosen not to translate this word for us. Instead it is an example of a transliteration, where the translators chose to give us a word that sounds like the original Greek word instead of translating it into common language.
The reason for this may be traced back to when a King by the name of James hired translators to translate the Bible into English. The state church of the time believed in sprinkling and would not have been pleased with a translation that challenged this practice. By avoiding a simple translation these men may have saved their lives.
In Greek the term is βάπτισμα or baptisma, so we get an English word that sounds like the Greek word. But that doesn't help us with understanding what it means.
However from looking at other literature from that time, we can see it can be translated in different ways.
I found this link with a collection of non-Biblical writings that use the same word. This can help us understand what the word meant in that day.
It sometimes meant to submerge or immersed in water.
It sometimes meant to dip or plunge, for example a sword being dipped in blood.
A related word báptō meant to dip or dye cloth material.
A related word baptízō referred to seaweed that was submerged (or not).
It seems the term was even used to refer to someone getting drunk, and another getting too deep into a discussion.
I won't go through the whole document. But I hope we recognize the term did have a meaning outside of Christianity.
Also in the New Testament related terms bapsō, bapsē and bapsas also gets translated as dipped in Luke 16:24 and John 13:26.
The word baptism may simply mean something like dip, submerge, immerse, or dye. It may not always occur with water.
So does this change anything?
I still have more questions to sort out. I'd be happy to hear your thoughts on this.