Baptism in early Christianity: a critical investigation of relevant Christian writings (80 – 325 A.D.)
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This research project deals with the practice of the baptism in the early church and thus during the time of the origins of Christianity. Its main interest is to offer a substantiated answer to the following question: did the first generations of Christians baptize infants? The study dealt in-depth with this question. It is answered in terms of a thorough and accurate investigation of recognized and accepted translations of primary sources. The study comprises six chapters. The first chapter offers an introduction to the research and outlines the sources as well as the method employed in analyzing the early Christian literature. Chapter two entails an overview of New Testament information related to baptism and infant baptism. The New Testament is obviously the most fundamental document on the issue and provides useful indications on what was practiced in the early churches concerning the baptism of infants and children. The following chapter (third) investigates the primary historical documents dated between 80 and 200 A.D. and covers thus (infant) baptism during the second century. These include the Didaché or the teaching of the twelve apostles (80-100 A.D.), the Letter of Barnabas (unknown - 61 A.D.), Shepherd of Hermas (unknown - 140/155 A.D.), Ignatius of Antioch (35-110 A.D.), Justin Martyr (100 – 165 A.D.) and Irenaeus of Lyons (130 - 200 A.D.). Chapter four – Differentiated views and the incorporation of children at the beginning of the third century - focuses on historical documents from 200-250 A.D. These include: Tertullian (160-240 Baptism in early Christianity: A.D.), Hippolytus of Rome (170 - 235 A.D.) and Origen (183/186 – 253 A.D). Chapter five – Synodical decrees on the baptism of children until the Council of Nicaea (325) – offers an exposition of documents dated from 220-325 A.D. These encapsulate the views of Cyprian of Carthage (210-258 A.D.), the Synod of Elvira (306/312 A.D.), the Synod of Neo-Caesarea (314/325 A.D.) and the Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.). The ultimate chapter entails a substantiated conclusion to the study. In final analysis the research indicated that there are no proven evidences that enables us to affirm with certainty that pedo-baptism was the norm or, in any case, that it was in use from the very beginning of the Christian church.
- Theology