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Baptism and Christian

by S. R. Driver
Baptism and Christian Archaeology. 265 extreme right a naked man is carved, turning towards the right, with hands slightly raised. Before him a robed figure, standing equally on both feet, lays his hand on the naked mans head. Both stand under a tree. No water is indicated, but a dove (?) sits in the tree. Next to this group are to be seen  Adam and Eve on either side of the tree of knowledge1. This may be intended for a scene of baptism, as the restoration to grace forfeited at the Fall, but is more probably intended for the Creation of man. Perate ( Archeologie Chretienne, p. 323) describes it as  le bapteme dun adolescent. Summary of evidence from Sarcophagi. Thus we have thirteen examples of the representation of the baptism of Christ from sarcophagi. In every case where the carving is perfect He is represented nude and as a boy, while the Baptist lays his hand on His head or at least raises it with that object. In one case ( Ex. 15) He stands on dry ground, once the water flows over His feet ( Ex. 9), twice it rises to His knees ( Exx. 16,17), once to the thighs ( Ex. 18). In four cases it falls from a knob of rock or spout, in two of which it falls all over His body. It will be noticed that in all examples hitherto cited, with the exception of Exx. 1, 4 and 9, the Saviour is represented as holding His hands down and not raising them in the attitude of prayer. The dove also is usually represented as visible at the moment of baptism; whereas in Luke iii. 21 it is stated that our Saviour was praying when the heavens opened, and in all three Gospels the dove is described as descending after He had gone up out of the water. It is obvious therefore that the conception of the scene is drawn from current practice rather than from the pages of Scripture. In connexion with these it is interesting to study other 1 Garr., vol.  v, tav. 301, 3.— Le Blant, Sarcophages de la Gaule, p. 98 and pl. xxvi. Chapter Home  | TOC  | Index t

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Baptism and Christian Archaeology. 265 extreme right a naked man is carved, turning towards the right, with hands slightly raised. Before him a robed figure, standing equally on both feet, lays his hand on the naked man's head. Both stand under a tree. No water is indicated, but a dove (?) sits in the tree. Next to this group are to be seen Adam and Eve on either side of the tree of knowledge1. This may be intended for a scene of baptism, as the restoration to grace forfeited at the Fall, but is more probably intended for the Creation of man. Perate ( Archeologie Chretienne, p. 323) describes it as ' le bapteme d'un adolescent.' Summary of evidence from Sarcophagi. Thus we have thirteen examples of the representation of the baptism of Christ from sarcophagi. In every case where the carving is perfect He is represented nude and as a boy, while the Baptist lays his hand on His head or at least raises it with that object. In one case ( Ex. 15) He stands on dry ground, once the water flows over His feet ( Ex. 9), twice it rises to His knees ( Exx. 16,17), once to the thighs ( Ex. 18). In four cases it falls from a knob of rock or spout, in two of which it falls all over His body. It will be noticed that in all examples hitherto cited, with the exception of Exx. 1, 4 and 9, the Saviour is represented as holding His hands down and not raising them in the attitude of prayer. The dove also is usually represented as visible at the moment of baptism; whereas in Luke iii. 21 it is stated that our Saviour was praying when the heavens opened, and in all three Gospels the dove is described as descending after He had gone up out of the water. It is obvious therefore that the conception of the scene is drawn from current practice rather than from the pages of Scripture. In connexion with these it is interesting to study other 1 Garr., vol. v, tav. 301, 3.— Le Blant, Sarcophages de la Gaule, p. 98 and pl. xxvi. << Chapter >> Home | TOC | Index t
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