Baptism in Syrian Tradition
The Syriac root of the word for baptism is `MaD, which means to
descend into, to sink, to dip. This word is also used for washing.
Triple immersion is used in the baptism of adults, but an infant is
placed in the water and then the water poured thrice over his head. This
practice is from the most ancient times, and is that which is commanded
in the Didache of the Twelve Apostles. In that, the first-ever book of
Church Discipline, we find: "7:1 But concerning baptism, thus baptize ye:
having first recited all these precepts, baptize in the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in running water; 7:2 but
if thou hast not running water, baptize in some other water, and if thou
canst not baptize in cold, in warm water; 7:3 but if thou hast neither,
pour water three times on the head, in the name of the Father, and of the
Son, and of the Holy Spirit." Thus other forms are acceptable if it is
impossible to baptize in a river.
Fr Andreas Richard Turner
- The Syriac word for baptism is m`amodeeytho ('th' pronunced as in
thin) derived from the root `mad which in this context means 'to dip
in or under water, to bathe, wash'. In the current practice of the
Syriac Orthodox rite of baptism, the priest places his right hand on
the head of the candidate, and with his left hand takes the baptismal
water and pours it over the head first from the front side of the
candidate, next from behind and finally from the right and left side
together. The water is thus taken in the form of a cross and the
pouring is in the name of the three persons of the Holy Trinity.
--- In SOR-Forum@y..., "Thomas P" <thomas_pa1@y...> wrote:
> Thank you for admitting me to this list. I joined this
> list to learn more from Syriac scholars.
> My first question is about baptism. I learned that
> the Greek word "baptizo" (to baptise) means "to immerse"
> (cause to be dipped, to submerge, to overwhelm).
> Thus the Apostolic/ Biblical tradition is baptism by
> immersion. But the word used in Indian Church for
> baptism is "mAmOdIsA". In liturgy and literature,
> the word "snAnam" is also common (e.g. "shishu snAnan"
> for infant baptism). Sanskrit "snAna" means "bath"
> (e.g. "virAja snAna" means "bath in the river of virAja"
> which involes immersion). Does the Syriac word also mean
> baptism by immersion?
> The Byzantine Orthodox Church allows baptism by sprinkling
> in certain circumstances ( may be when there is no water
> source sufficiently deep for a full immersion). In certain
> circumstances, they also allow a baptised lay person to
> administer the sacrament (kUdAsha) of baptism. I would
> like to know the Syriac tradition regarding this.
> Thank you,