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Christian Baptism As Seen by Outsiders: Julian the Apostate As an Example

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image of Vigiliae Christianae

AbstractHow did ancient pagan intellectuals look upon Christian baptism? The aim of the present article is to provide such an outsider’s perspective. This serves a double purpose: to depict pagan critique of Christian faith and baptism in particular, but also to see if this critique in any way mirrors contemporary baptismal theology and practice. Julian the Emperor has two texts wherein baptism is addressed at some length. The claim that sins and mischief could simply be washed away by merely being immersed in a bath was appalling to him. The simplicity involved in Christian baptism was offensive. The only true remedy for a sick soul was the exercise provided for by the toil of Greek education. Julian’s critique mirrors fundamental convictions held by Christians on baptism, which may be summarised in the word of grace.

Affiliations: 1: MF Norwegian School of TheologyPb 5144 Majorstuen0302


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