Gregory Naz - Mk. 16:16 in Oration 40?
- Things seem a little slow, so during the lull here's something pertaining to Mark 16:9-20 --
Gregory of Nazianzen preached Oration 40 (On Holy Baptism) on January 6, 381. Here is an excerpt from the beginning of part 26:
"XXVI. Let nothing hinder you from going on, nor draw you away from your readiness. While your desire is still vehement, seize upon that which you desire. While the iron is hot, let it be tempered by the cold water, lest anything should happen in the interval, and put an end to your desire. I am Philip; do you be Candace's eunuch. Do you also say, "See, here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptized?" Seize the opportunity; rejoice greatly in the blessing, and having spoken be baptized, and having been baptized be saved."
The utilization of Acts 8:36 is notable, but what really interests me is that last phrase: "and having been baptized, be saved." Does that not resemble Mark 16:16? Tracking down the passage in Migne, I find the Greek text of Gregory's Oration 40 in PG Volume 36, and the Greek text of part 26 begins in column 596. The pertinent excerpt runs as follows, beginning with the Greek equivalent of "Seize the opportunity" ~
ARPASON TON KAIRON; TW AGAQW PERICARHQI; KAI EIPWN, BAPTISQHTI, KAI BAPTISQEIS SWQHTI.
The exact word "baptisqeis" does not occur very often in the New Testament just in Mt. 3:16, Mark 16:16, and Acts 8:13. The reference in Matthew refers to Christ's baptism; the reference in Acts refers to the baptism of Simon Magus.
Only Mark 16:16 shares with Gregory's sentence the convergence of the term "baptisqeis" with a reference to personal salvation (SWQHTI in Gregory; SWQHSETAI in Mk. 16:16).
Because Gregory does not make an explicit citation here, it is impossible to prove that he was led by a recollection of Mark 16:16 to phrase his words in this way. Still, it seems to me that this reference should be regarded as a possible use of Mark 16:16.
(I confess that I am tempted to add: why play fair? Until the non-testimony of Clement of Alexandria is no longer misrepresented -- until commentators such as Robert H. Stein stop referring to the testimony of Clement of Alexandria as "weighty" in regard to Mark 16:9-20 -- this statement of Gregory Nazianzen should be regarded, in comparison, as a spectacularly obvious use of Mark 16:16.)
Yours in Christ,
James Snapp, Jr.