Reply to Contra_Mundum Regarding Acts 16.34

Introduction

My post on the The Peshitta’s Reading of Acts 16:34 has caught the attention of some paedobaptists on the Puritan Board. I do not want to get a membership just to respond to them, so I will reply briefly here and maybe they will find me :).

Contra_Mundum says:

The translation the Peshitta provides does not “tend” to providing credo-baptist support, to the exclusion of a household that included anyone there under the terms, inclusive. It is simply a straightforward, and very faithful, translation into a Semitic language (which prefers certain renditions of Greek phraseology, not any different than a modern English translation will do); and simply put, very much follows the word order of the Greek. Being myself a person familar to varying degrees with both biblical Hebrew and the modern Semitic tongue, Arabic, I would have to say that Meade’s conclusions drawn from the translation is as tendentious as anything he tries to pin on a paedobaptist. Continue reading “Reply to Contra_Mundum Regarding Acts 16.34”

The οικια Reference in Job 1.10 and Household Baptisms

I have been posting quite a bit on baptism issues lately (see posts on Acts 16:34 and 2:41), and I’m not really sure why.  I guess I think about the issue while I’m reading the sources and I make a note to come back to certain texts for further reflection.  When I was reading Job 1 a couple weeks ago, the reference to Job and his house struck me because I remembered Lee Irons’ post on this matter here.  Irons is a more acute theologian than I, but he is convinced by Jeremias’ argument that oikos texts in the Septuagint “refer to the immediate family unit, with particular focus on the under-age children.”  Now, one is struck by the impressive list of references, which Irons compiles in his paper; however, what if it can be shown in one clear instance that the oikos formula refers to a household which has no infants in the house?  Would not that reference cause someone to pause before concluding (assuming?) there are infants in every household text in the NT?  Well, that one reference is Job 1:10.  I first commented on this issue on Weedon’s blog, which is another thread worth reviewing, if one is interested in the matter of baptism from a church history perspective. Continue reading “The οικια Reference in Job 1.10 and Household Baptisms”

The Lexis of Acts 2:41 or Who were the First Christian Baptizees?

This study only introduces an argument, which needs more research in the Classical and Patristic periods.  The argument concerns the description of the first baptizees in Acts 2:41.  The book of Acts records the history of the earliest apostolic church.  The question of what is normative in the book of Acts vs. what is only descriptive is a lingering question to ask of this book.  There seems to be components of the book of Acts that may not be normative for Christians today but simply applied to the first century church.  Perhaps, the description of the church community as sharing all of their possessions so that no one was in need may be an example of description, but does not constitute normative practice for the church in all ages and at all times; however, baptism is a normative aspect of the church (Matt. 28:18-20).  Therefore, the book of Acts must shape our doctrine and practice of baptism.  Most do not debate that the book of Acts reveals the subject or the recipient of baptism.  Presbyterians usually look to household baptism texts and conclude that infants of believers ought to be baptized.  Baptists appeal to texts in Acts where the subjects of baptism are reported as having believed and then were baptized.  The book of Acts has many baptismal accounts to examine, but this post is devoted to one aspect of the first account in Acts 2.

Another assumption I have about the book of Acts is that earlier accounts are expanded, while later accounts are abbreviated.  In other words, Luke describes in detail who was baptized in the first few baptismal accounts, while in the later accounts he simply reports that a baptism happened.  He does not explain what happens to the baptized members in later accounts, while in the earlier account he explains that baptism leads to membership in the church for example. Continue reading “The Lexis of Acts 2:41 or Who were the First Christian Baptizees?”

The Peshitta’s Reading of Acts 16.34

Acts 16.34 contains that wonderful and glorious text of the salvation of the Philippian jailer and his household.  However, the question that has intrigued interpreters is who is believing according to this verse?  Is only the jailer believing? Or is the jailer believing together with his household?  Allow me to cite the Greek text of the verse then I will describe the exegetical difficulties, and finally I will provide the Syriac Peshitta reading of the verse and draw some conclusions from it.

Greek Text: αναγαγων τε αυτους εις τον οικον παρεθηκεν τραπεζαν και ηγαλλιασατο πανοικει πεπιστευκως τω θεω.

Difficulty: Does πανοικει (an adverb meaning “with the whole house”) modify the main verb ηγαλλιασατο or the participle πεπιστευκως?  As an adverb, grammatically it may modify either word.  What is the difference between the options? If it modifies the first verb, the translation is something like: “He rejoiced with his whole household because he believed in God.”  If it modifies the second, the text reads: He rejoiced because he believed in God–together with his whole household.  In the second translation the adverb indicates that the whole household believed with the jailer and were subsequently baptized according to 16.33.  The first translation has only the jailer believing, but the whole household is rejoicing with him and if the oikos argument is granted, this whole household is baptized apart from faith. Continue reading “The Peshitta’s Reading of Acts 16.34”