The Mikveh and Baptism

Here is an interesting story about the revival in contemporary Judaism of the Mikveh, the ritual bath that goes back to Biblical times. Even today someone converting to Judaism must be immersed in the water. It was also used to deal with various kinds of “uncleanness.” Today, Jews are using it more therapeutically, to deal with times of transition, to symbolize new beginnings, etc.

For a Christian, of course, the Mikveh speaks to us of Baptism. I’d like to see some scholarship relating the ordinary Mikveh–and apparently most houses of that time had a pool for this–and the Baptism of John and then of the Church.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

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  • Greg

    I actually read a book like that 25 years ago in seminary. It was by a german lutheran scholar..I think his name began with J….jeremias or something like that.

  • Greg

    I actually read a book like that 25 years ago in seminary. It was by a german lutheran scholar..I think his name began with J….jeremias or something like that.

  • Greg

    Infant Baptism in the first four centuries by Joachim Jermias available on amazon for $15.

  • Greg

    Infant Baptism in the first four centuries by Joachim Jermias available on amazon for $15.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    Slightly off-topic, but has anyone ever read Postville by Stephen Bloom about the town in Iowa which had an influx of orthodox Jews? Fascinating book. I am reminded of his description:

    “Bloom comes to Postville intent on getting closer to his fellow Jews, but like the locals, he learns that the reality of the Lubavitchers is more complicated, and even darker, than he imagined. A scene in the Postville mikvah is telling. Bloom had envisioned an idyllic pool that would wash away all his sins. Instead he finds a fetid tank inside a cold basement with an oily scum floating on top. “I had choreographed my own plunge, conjuring images of my own life, my own rebirth,” he writes. “Perhaps I would be reunited with my father, who had taught me about my faith, about manhood, about how to be a good father and husband. All these hopes drowned in the reality of the dank basement of the shul.”

    You’ve got to read this book, if you haven’t already!

    Source: http://www.uiowa.edu/jmc/faculty/bloom/review_jerusalemreport.html

    http://www.startribune.com/templates/Print_This_Story?sid=11375366

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    Slightly off-topic, but has anyone ever read Postville by Stephen Bloom about the town in Iowa which had an influx of orthodox Jews? Fascinating book. I am reminded of his description:

    “Bloom comes to Postville intent on getting closer to his fellow Jews, but like the locals, he learns that the reality of the Lubavitchers is more complicated, and even darker, than he imagined. A scene in the Postville mikvah is telling. Bloom had envisioned an idyllic pool that would wash away all his sins. Instead he finds a fetid tank inside a cold basement with an oily scum floating on top. “I had choreographed my own plunge, conjuring images of my own life, my own rebirth,” he writes. “Perhaps I would be reunited with my father, who had taught me about my faith, about manhood, about how to be a good father and husband. All these hopes drowned in the reality of the dank basement of the shul.”

    You’ve got to read this book, if you haven’t already!

    Source: http://www.uiowa.edu/jmc/faculty/bloom/review_jerusalemreport.html

    http://www.startribune.com/templates/Print_This_Story?sid=11375366

  • Joanne

    The Israeli film “Kadosh” shows the modern use of the mikvah as women use it for monthly purification rites in Mea Sharim in Jerusalem. Most public libraries will have this film. Also, archeologists use the presence of mikvahs at sites to determine that sites are Jewish. The seemingly Hellenistic sites of Sepphoris and Tiberias in The Galilee were determined to be Jewish cities because, in spite of all things else being Greek, still there were mikvahs present.

    Just saying, Joanne

  • Joanne

    The Israeli film “Kadosh” shows the modern use of the mikvah as women use it for monthly purification rites in Mea Sharim in Jerusalem. Most public libraries will have this film. Also, archeologists use the presence of mikvahs at sites to determine that sites are Jewish. The seemingly Hellenistic sites of Sepphoris and Tiberias in The Galilee were determined to be Jewish cities because, in spite of all things else being Greek, still there were mikvahs present.

    Just saying, Joanne


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