Liturgy and eucharist – Part XIV

Liturgy and eucharist – Part XIV April 24, 2017

Justin-Martyr-St-Baptism-w-as-Illumination-in-the-Early-Church-StPaul Bradshaw, Search for the Origins of Early Christian Worship

Baptism and the Liturgical Year

145 Jungmann, he says, represents the harmonizing approach, built on the assumption that there was a single standardized rite.

147-48 Dix and Manson theorized a pre-baptismal confirmation rite during apostolic days.

149-50 Scholars in the 1970s argued forcefully that the original Syrian practice was an anointing of the head only and not the whole body, involved an anointing before the effusion, and was an imitation of Christ’s baptism. 

151 Bradshaw concludes that there was diversity in baptismal practice in early Syria, which includes Antioch, a major center of the early Church in the first century.

152 He also says it is possible that baptism and anointing with oil were two alternative means of Christian initiation before they were later combined in the same rite.

154 In Syria, he says, there was no sign of a long catechumenate, but of a two-stage process: first profession of faith and renunciation of the devil at a public worship, and then later on another date a baptism.

156 In North Africa there were both water baptism and anointing with oil.  In addition, there was giving of milk and honey at the first communion.

159 Only with Tertullian (early 3rd c.) is there mention of baptisms at Easter.

160 In Justin’s account of baptism at Rome there is no mention of ministers and there is only water baptism, no mention of oil.  [these are implicit arguments from silence—that since they are not mentioned, nothing of that sort was present]

161-63 Bradshaw finds three layers in the Apostolic Tradition, claiming that none of it reflects actual practice in Rome, “even if the core rite does.”  The text is “an artificial blending” and probably was never “used as it stands.”  [Hard evidence for any of these speculations?  Not at all clear]

164 Bradshaw here questions whether Justin’s descriptions are of real practices in Rome.  [Yet there is little doubt that Justin was in Rome when he wrote his Apologies.]

Here he concedes that Justin knew of a Trinitarian formula for baptism.  [yet elsewhere claims that the mention of baptism in the name of Jesus is quite significant.]

165-66 In northern Italy in the later 4th c. there was an “opening” by the bishop of the ears and nostrils of baptismal candidates on the day before baptism, a pre-baptismal anointing of the body against the devil and  his works, and a washing of the feet of the baptized.

169-70 Bradshaw again is a splitter, this time on baptism.  He says there was no essential core to the rite but instead much variety.  And yet . . . after all the detailing of diversity, he concedes there were “fundamental ritual elements”: preparatory instruction, renunciation and act of faith, anointing, immersion, perhaps imposition of hands.  Yet even after listing all these, he protests that if we emphasize these common elements we “distort” our understanding of early Christian baptism. [judge for yourself if this is coherent.]

172-74 On daily prayer, Bradshaw cites Baumstark who argued in the last century (20th!) that in the 4th c. there were two forms, cathedral and monastic.  The cathedral office was twice a day and quite ecclesial: here was the Church gathered for prayer, exercising its royal priesthood by a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving on behalf of all creation and interceding for the salvation of the world.  The monastic office, on the other hand, was centered in silent meditation on the Word and its aim was growth into the likeness of Christ.  It was not inherently corporate, but when it was, it was five times a day—early in the morning, at the 3rd, 6th, and 9th hours, and again at some point in the night.

175 Surprisingly, after all of Bradshaw’s splitting on Eucharist and baptism, here he is a lumper.  He draws a line from early Jewish patterns of daily prayer through the early church and then to post-Constantinian practices.  He finds a certain unity!

191 On the church year, Bradshaw sees much diversity in the first three centuries and no amalgamation until the 4th century.  So too, he says, the idea of a lectionary did not coalesce until then.

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