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date: 19 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter focuses on obvious, tangible, and social features of baptism and places them in the context of culturally important water rites, namely, Roman bathing practices and the use of miqva’ot or stepped water installations in Hellenistic and Roman Palestine. In this context, the prominence of a water rite in emergent Christianity signalled accommodation to Roman culture. At the same time, restricting baptism to a one-time event (versus daily Roman bathing) expressed resistance to Roman hegemony. The rite inverted Roman practice. Besides employing water, two other obvious features of baptism are these: baptism marked the crossing of a boundary, and it was administered. Baptism enabled both entry into the circle of Christ-followers and entry into the spirit world or an alternate state of conscious (ASC), described in the sources as receipt of the Holy Spirit. The baptizand’s place in the community was established by who conducted the baptism; the administrator and recipient formed a parent-child kinship tie.

Keywords: alternate state of consciousness, bath, bathing, baptism, boundary crossing, kinship, ritual inversion, water rite

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