Every now and then, but not very often, someone writes a book that is a once-in-a-lifetime publication. Wow! Everett Ferguson has just given us an exhaustive study of baptism in the first five centuries: Baptism in the Early Church: History, Theology, and Liturgy in the First Five Centuries
What are the most decisive arguments in the baptism debates — infant or adult? Submersion, immersion, sprinkling? What most convinced you of your view? Or, do you think the parents or person choose and that the church makes a few options available?
This master historian, well-known for his works on backgrounds to the New Testament, sketches the whole picture: from the Jewish and/or Greco-Roman backgrounds to the New Testament to infant baptism (late 2d century) to baptismal liturgies to baptismal theologies and baptistries themselves — it’s all here.
This book is not innovative; it is not an attempt to argue a brand-new theory; it’s an examination of what can be known from the ancient evidence about baptism. For years I have always gone to G.R. Beasley-Murray’sjustifiably well-known book on baptism (Baptism in the New Testament
). I will now go first to Ferguson’s magnum opus.
Every pastor, theologian, ecclesial thinker, and theologian needs this book.