Read Infant Baptism in the First Four Centuries by Joachim Jeremias Online


A profound study of infant baptism in the early church by oneo f the twentieth century's leading New Testament scholars....

Title : Infant Baptism in the First Four Centuries
Author :
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ISBN : 9781592447572
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 112 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Infant Baptism in the First Four Centuries Reviews

  • Jon Marq
    2019-03-11 10:24

    Makes an excellent historical case for infant baptism. [See John Murray's "Christian Baptism" for an excellent biblical-theological case for the same.]

  • Kenny Parnell
    2019-03-10 05:28

    Covered a good bit of ground in very short order. A knowledge of Latin and Greek make for easier reading of the middle chapters. Lots of great footnotes for further study.

  • Richard Minor
    2019-03-14 08:49

    Strong content and argument.

  • Cliff
    2019-02-25 06:45

    There is evidence that for 1500 years, from the Resurrection to the Protestant Reformation, the church practiced infant baptism.It’s not uncommon for modern Christians to believe that infant baptism is an artifact of the Roman Catholic Church; done away with when the Anabaptists of the 1600’s discovered the real meaning of the New Testament and did away with all the corruptions of the Roman Catholics. Christianity, however, wasn’t legalized by Rome until the fourth century and the Roman church didn’t usurp authority over the whole church until the fifth century. That leaves four centuries of pre-Roman Catholic Church that practiced infant baptism.What happened in those four centuries is the focus of Joachim’s book. While there is no direct example of infants being baptized in the New Testament there is a great deal of evidence that it was happening.Joachim Jeremias’ book is a scholarly work originally published in 1960. It is not intended to be a cleverly worded narrative of ancient history and theology. It is a dry read, not unlike a technical document in an obscure class on an esoteric topic. Not only is it a translation from German to English it still includes Greek and Latin phrases that in many cases remain untranslated. The author expects you to discern the translation from the text and, thankfully, Joachim is thorough in his descriptions making this a relatively straightforward endeavor.What Joachim does exceptionally well is take you through a process of getting the reader into the right mindset and put the argument in historical, societal and theological context. To that end, the evidences are presented in four chapters in chronological order. What I have here should be considered highlights of a larger case, or the things that stood out to me on one reading, and not complete arguments in themselves.Joachim starts with the culture of the early believers. In the ancient east they did not think in individualistic terms like we do today in the modern west. The beginning of Christianity took place in a culture where one person could bring shame, or honor, to the entire family. We see this played out in Acts 16 where Lydia (presumably the head of the household) believed and the entire household was baptized. Again the Philippian Jailer believed and was baptized, along with his entire family.This gives added meaning to a passage like 1 Corinthians 7:14 where Paul says the children are made holy even by one believing parent. Children of believing parents were considered part of the church and therefore eligible for baptism. In Acts 21:21 we learn that Paul was instructing Jewish believers not to circumcise their children, but Paul also considered baptism the Christian circumcision (Col 2:11). Since children were circumcised under the Old Covenant, it is probable that Jewish believers would have interpreted baptism as including children in the New Covenant. This is also supported by Mark 10:13-16 when Jesus declared that the children should not be forbidden to come to him.Moving forward in history to Tertullian, a theologian in the late 100’s and early 200’s, we have the first known dispute against infant baptism. In between the New Testament and Tertullian, Joachim offers several tomb stone inscriptions and writings about children who died in infancy and toddlerhood and are described as believers. Given the 1000’s of years of Jews circumcising infants, the lack of argument against baptizing children and the description of infants as believers, Tertullian’s argument isn’t against a new practice, but rather an established practice.In the fourth century Augustine is known to have written that no heretic renounced the baptism of infants showing that infant baptism was not started by heretics, but rather corrupted by them. As Joachim writes, “In 388 Chrysostom in Constantinople in the Homily to Neophytes lauds the batismatis largitates and draws therefrom the conclusion ‘Therefore we baptize little children also, although they have no sin’” (italics are the author’s).Joachim finishes with a note from Augustine, who may have been the last theologian before the usurpation of Rome. Augustine, writing against the heretical Pelagians, wrote that, “[They] would have reason to fear that men would spit in their faces and women would throw their sandals at their heads if they dared to say of infantes, ‘Let them not be baptized’.” A drastic reaction perhaps, but still showing that infant baptism was an established practiced in the early church.If you’re interested in the history of baptism, Joachim’s work is a must read as it is an historical investigation and not necessarily a theological one. As I said, I’m summing in a page what Joachim expounded on in 100 pages with replete footnotes. Whether you agree with infant baptism or not, Joachim’s work is not a show piece for the faithful, but rather an in depth and well documented study that infant baptism was a regular practice in the church starting with the Apostles.

  • Peter Migner
    2019-02-17 09:31

    A bit dry and assumes a lot

  • Tovis
    2019-02-20 11:39

    I read the actual English translation from the book that is a half century old. The author died a week before I was born but his voice has been carried in the words of the pages. I read Ferguson's lengthy book on baptism just prior to this and I felt this book hit upon some of the holes I Ferguson's book that I called into question. I would recommend this book to anybody to is going into seminary or whoever wants to learn more about baptism.

  • David Uptagrafft
    2019-03-09 06:37

    The background of Jewish proselyte baptism was wholly unknown to me. This plus general paternal family structure make a strong case for normative practice with infants and children in the early church, even aside from the 2nd century writings indicating its prevalence.

  • Steven Wedgeworth
    2019-03-13 06:25

    A great, even if short, study.

  • Julie
    2019-02-21 06:31

    Great information but a bit heavy (and partially in Greek).

  • Douglas Wilson
    2019-03-05 11:24

    Very good.

  • David Alexander
    2019-03-14 06:43

    Infant Baptism in the First Four Centuries by Joachim JeremiasSunday, April 30, 201711:31 PMI read this book after reading about it in the fine book Theological Foundations of the Family: The Domestic Church by Joseph C. Atkinson. Atkinson noted that Jeremias had changed his views on infant baptism in the course of his research on it in early Church history. Atkinson caused me to begin to rethink infant baptism. I find the arguments for it from Scriptures and Church history compelling. I was not looking for this and it is even, perhaps, consternating. It seems to me that modern individualism is projected backward onto the Scriptures but that when the passages about families being baptized are examined carefully in light of their cultural context, it seems highly likely that the baptisms included infants. This argument becomes even stronger with the substantial evidence from earliest history from the first four centuries that infant baptism was universally practices in the church at that time. By the end of the book, Jeremias has powerfully made his case by lucid, assiduous historical scholarship when he writes, "A thorough examination of all of the sources makes it quite clear that in this whole period of four centuries there were to be found only two theologians who advocated a postponement of baptism, bot of them, moreover, with reservations." Neither of the two theologians, Tertullian, and Gregory of Nazianzus, offer any theological justification for the postponement. I am acquainted with Joachim Jeremias previously from reading his fine work on the Lord's prayer. He combines intense historical scholarship and lucid explanation. I pray for the courage to follow out what I have learned and to apply what I should. Perhaps it would be a salient push back against modern individualism to have my sons baptized while they are still young but I am still hesitant because I do not understand the implications and it seems that this implies that I take from them the decision when they must make the faith their own. But Scripture and history seem to indicate this is the right practice. Group identity is baptized so to speak more so than the atomistic individuality of modernity. I pray for illumination and courage.