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Liturgical Press

The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan

The Trinitarian and Cosmic Order of Salvation

Kilian McDonnell

The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan
The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan

ISBN: 9780814653074, 5307

Details: 272 pgs, 6 x 9
Publication Date: 10/01/1996

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The feast of the baptism of Jesus is the second most ancient liturgical celebration and is among the major mysteries of Christ. The synoptics mention Jesus' baptism in the Jordan, and John's Gospel gives a report of it, indicating its importance.

The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, a systematic study, isolates those themes (Trinitarian, cosmic, sinlessness, liturgical, messianic, divinization, orientation to a future paradise, descent into Sheol/hell, institution of the sacrament of baptism) with which the early Church proclaimed and celebrated the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. Drawing on Latin, Greek, and Syrian sources, Father McDonnell shows the Jordan event as the dominant paradigm of Christian baptism in the earliest centuries, and also presents its relation to growing interest in the Pauline death and resurrection themes in the fourth century.

Because it was widely looked upon as the institution of Christian baptism, this history is relevant to contemporary theology and to the liturgical celebration of Christian baptism. The way the early Church used the baptism of Jesus to communicate the central truths of the faith, especially proclaiming the call to holiness the vocation to participate in the divine life is still valuable today.

Liturgists and systematic theologians teaching the sacraments will be particularly interested in this patristic, systematic work.

Chapters are: "The Beginning of the Gospel: The Scriptures," "Sinlessness and Liturgy," "An Article of the Creed and the Ordo of Salvation," "The Cosmic Baptism," "'Come to Me by My Road: Put on Poverty and Freedom' Asceticism," "The Lukan Variant and the Jordan as Birth Event," "The Jordan as Womb and the Great Fire/Light," "The Messianic Anointing of Jesus with the Spirit," "Taking the Robe of Glory from the Jordan Divinization," "The Cosmic Jordan and the Robe of Glory Eschatology," and "The Descent into the Jordan and the Descent into Hell," "Contemplation and Initiation Institution of Christian Baptism," "The Principle: Jesus' Baptism Constitutes our Baptism Institution," "Calvary Threatens the Dominance of Jordan Institution," and " The Threat of Sacramental Imagination and the Jordan's Tenacity Institution."

Includes chapter summaries.

Kilian McDonnell, OSB, is president of the Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research, Collegeville, Minnesota, co- chair of the international classical Pentecostal Roman Catholic dialogue, and a participant in the international Disciples of Christ/Roman Catholic and the national Lutheran/Roman Catholic dialogues. His ground breaking Christian Initiation and Baptism in the Holy Spirit, co-authored with George Montague, SM, has been published in seven languages.


Here we are led in a lucid manner by a brilliant scholar into those symbolic, highly poetic, and deeply spiritual patristic writings of the Syrian East, a tradition in which Baptism as a pneumatic 'new birth' in the Jordan continues to play a central role. Indeed, this study is required reading for anyone seeking to understand the rich diversity and implications of early Christian theology.
Max Johnson

. . . this is a clear, concise, balanced, illuminating, and monumental work that is a "must" buy for libraries and those interested in the development of baptism and/or seeking to learn how the early Fathers preached and catechized the themes contained in Jesus' baptism in order to instill a greater participation in Christ's prophetic mission.
Theological Studies

Kilian McDonnell's career certainly has been stellar, however, from the perspective of a student of Eastern Christianity and Early Christianity, even those significant achievements of the past fall dim in the shadow of this magnificent contribution to our knowledge of both the baptism of Jesus and the formation of Trinitarian theology.

The John Courtney Murray medalist has demonstrated once again the powerful link patristic writing is between the Bible and systematic theology. The Greek, Syrian, and Armenian probings of this biblical mystery that he lays bare are rich indeed.
Gerard S. Sloyan, Catholic University of America

Kilian McDonnell's demonstrated mastery of patristics has enabled him to write the most comprehensive theology of baptism I have come across in years of work on Christian initiation. . . . Must reading for anyone interested in the historical and theological setting of baptism in early Christianity.
Thomas M. Finn, Chancellor Professor of Religion, College of William and Mary