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Two Mistakes

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  • Grondin
    To set the record straight: 1. In a recent note to Frank McCoy, I stated that the time of Hiram, David, and Solomon was the ninth century BCE. That should have
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 24, 2002
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      To set the record straight:

      1. In a recent note to Frank McCoy, I stated that the time of Hiram, David,
      and Solomon was the ninth century BCE. That should have been _tenth_ century
      BCE. For some reason or other, I was thinking that BCE doesn't follow the
      same "century rule" (add 1 to the hundreds) as CE, and so I converted 950
      BCE into 9th century BCE. Wrong-o. (I guess Frank didn't notice this, or if
      he did, perhaps thought it not worth correcting. Personally, I appreciate
      corrections to purported statements of fact - saves me from the even worse
      embarassment of repeating the mistake - and I think it's good practice for
      the list in general.)

      2. In a recent note to Ron McCann, I proclaimed confidently "certainly not
      naked baptism". Wouldn't you know it, it wasn't more than a few days later
      that I happened to be browing thru Koester's _Ancient Christian Gospels_,
      and came upon this on p.302, in the course of his discussion of the Secret
      Gospel of Mark:

      "Nakedness was widely practiced in early Christian baptism (5) ..."
      ...
      "(5) Hippolytus (_Apostolic Tradition_ 21.11) specifies that both the
      catechumen and the presbyter shall stand in the water naked."
      (my note: "Apostolic Tradition" was a church-order text setting forth
      practices to be followed in Rome, circa early 3rd c.)

      This raises several questions in my mind. (1) Was baptism public, or just
      between the catechumen and presbyter? (2) Was it total nakedness, or
      nakedness under a covering garment? (3) Was this practice restricted to the
      specific time and place known to Hippolytus, or can we project it back to
      the time of Paul, say? (4) Was it a Christian innovation, or can we project
      it back to Jewish practice, in the Judaea of John the Baptist? [The practice
      seems Hellenistic-Jewish, but many 1st c. ritual bathing "pools" have been
      excavated in areas evidently not heavily influenced by Hellenism.] (5) Above
      all, what was the symbolic meaning of the nakedness aspect from the orthodox
      point of view? Was it just the notion of being born again, or did it also
      have a pseudo-gnostic meaning? (Seems unlikely on the face of it, given
      Hippolytus' refutation of gnosticism.) Any good source on this issue?

      Tentatively, this seems to lend support to Jonathan Z. Smith's
      interpretation of #37 - which stresses practice over meaning. Still, the
      practice of discarding clothing for baptism could have been understood in
      either orthodox or gnostic ways, so the saying doesn't seem to help much in
      placing GTh on the spectrum of Christian thinking.

      Mike Grondin
      Mt. Clemens, MI
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