n HTS : Theological Studies - The foundation, value and meaning of baptism in the New Testament

Volume 59, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0259-9422
  • E-ISSN: 2072-8050



In the symbolical and social world of the first Christians, baptism functioned as a "cultural symbol". Ensuing from Gerd Theissen's (1999) work, A theory of primitive Christian religion, the paper explains the opinion that religion, defined as a system of cultural symbols, consists of sacred mythical narratives conveying ritual values which can be internalized through participation. Theoretically argued, there is a historical reason why a specific symbol/rite fits the social context. Behind the contextualized rite lies an idea which communicates values and provides meaning. From the textual evidence in the New Testament, this article demonstrates the historical foundation, the value and meaning of being baptized.

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