Eckhard Schnabel, «The Meaning of Baptizein in Greek, Jewish, and Patristic
Literature.», Vol. 24 (2011) 3-40
The treatment of the Greek term Baptizein in the standard English lexicons is unsystematic. The use of the English term ‘to baptize’ for the Greek term Baptizein in English versions of the New Testament is predicated on the assumption that the Greek verb has a technical meaning which warrants the use of a transliteration. Since the first fact is deplorable and the second fact is unsatisfactory, an investigation into the meaning of the Greek term in Greek, Jewish, and patristic literary and documentary texts is called for in order to define the meaning of the term in classical and Hellenistic Greek with more precision than usually encountered in New Testament research, with a view to construct a more helpful lexicon entry for Baptizein.
38 Eckhard J. Schnabel
Clemens Alexandrinus, Protrepticus sive cohortatio ad gentess 1.4: Λίθοι δὲ
καὶ ξύλα οἱ ἄφρονες: πρὸς δὲ καὶ λίθων ἀναισθητότερος ἄνθρωπος ἀγνοίᾳ
βεβαπτισμένος (“The silly are stocks and stones, and still more senseless than stones
is a man who is steeped in ignorance”; P. Schaff) (ii/iii).
John Chrysostom, Homiliae 40.5 in Mt. (PG 57.438): Ποίων οὖν ταῦτα κυμάτων,
ποίου κλύδωνος οὐ χαλεπώτερα; Καὶ γὰρ καὶ φυσᾶται ἀθρόον ὑπὸ τῆς ἡδονῆς
ὁ τοιοῦτος, καὶ βαπτίζεται πάλιν εὐκόλως, ἐν ἀνωμαλίᾳ μὲν ἀεὶ, ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ δὲ
οὐδέποτε ὤν (“What manner of waves then, what tempest so grievous as this? Yea,
such a one is both puffed up in a moment by the pleasure, and is under water again
easily, being ever in fluctuation, in tranquillity never”; P. Schaff) (ii/iii).
Sense 3: to become intoxicated; gloss: ‘to be drunk’
Plato, Symposium 176A-B: Τὸν οὖν Παυσανίαν ἔφη λόγου τοιούτου τινὸς
κατάρχειν. Εἶεν, ἄνδρες, φάναι, τίνα τρόπον ῥᾷστα πιόμεθα; ἐγὼ μὲν οὖν λέγω
ὑμῖν ὅτι τῷ ὄντι πάνυ χαλεπῶς ἔχω ὑπὸ τοῦ χθὲς πότου καὶ δέομαι ἀναψυχῆς τινος
οἶμαι δὲ καὶ ὑμῶν τοὺς πολλούς. παρῆστε γὰρ χθές σκοπεῖσθε οὖν τίνι τρόπῳ
ἂν ὡς ῥᾷστα πίνοιμεν. Τὸν οὖν Ἀριστοφάνη εἰπεῖν, Τοῦτο μέντοι εὖ λέγεις, ὦ
Παυσανία, τὸ παντὶ τρόπῳ παρασκευάσασθαι ῥᾳστώνην τινὰ τῆς πόσεως: καὶ
γὰρ αὐτός εἰμι τῶν χθὲς βεβαπτισμένων (“Then Pausanias, he said, began so speak
somewhat as follows, “All right, men”, he said, “What will be the easiest way for us to
drink? Now I tell you that I am really in a very bad way from yesterday’s drinking,
and I need a rest. I suspect that many of you do too, for you were also here yesterday.
So consider what would be the easiest way for us to drink.” Aristophanes then said,
“That is a good suggestion, Pausanias, to arrange our drinking in some easier way,
for I too am one of yesterday’s soaks”; S. Benardete) (V/IV).84
Plutarch, Questionum convivialum 6 Intro. (Moralia 686B): μέγα γὰρ ὡς ἀληθῶς
εὐημερίας ἐφόδιον ευκρασία σώματος ἀβαπτίστου καὶ ἐλαφροῦ καὶ παρεστῶτος
ἀνυπόπτως ἐπὶ πᾶσαν ἐνέργειαν (“It is truly a great contribution to our health and
happiness to have our bodies in a good state of balance, not sodden with wine, but
light and ready unhesitatingly for any activity”; H. B. Hoffleit) (i).
Josephus, Antiquitates Judaicae 10.169: θεασάμενος δ’ αὐτὸν οὕτως ἔχοντα καὶ
βεβαπτισμένον εἰς ἀναισθησίαν καὶ ὕπνον ὑπὸ τῆς μέθης ὁ Ἰσμάηλος ἀναπηδήσας
Plato, Plato’s Symposium (a translation by Seth Benardete; Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 2001), p. 5; Walter R. M. Lamb, Plato (Volume 5: Lysis, Symposium, Gor-
gias; Loeb Classical Library; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1975), translates ″for I
myself am one of those who got such a soaking yesterday.⁇