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By Rev. Benjamin Davies, Montreal.

THOSE who read with interest the article of Dr. Murdock on The Syriac Words for Baptism, in the Bibliotheca Sacra for Oct. 1850, may be inclined to inquire farther into the subject. The following remarks are respectfully offered in aid of that inquiry. It is indeed much to be wished, for the sake of Syriac philology, that an article on the question were contributed by one of the most learned and judicious of the American missionaries to the Nestorians, on whom chiefly the revival of Syriac literature may be said now legitimately to depend. But in the absence of such a contribution, the following may have its interest and its use.

The question may be thus stated. Is the Syriacas, to be bap tized, radically identical with the Hebrew 2 to stand, and therefore not properly expressive of the outward act indicated by ẞanzitw?

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It is in the highest degree probable, that the Syrians had once a root as to stand; since hasos pillar (Heb. 75) is clearly derived from it, and since all the cognate tongues (Heb, Chald., Samar., Arab. and Ethiopic) have it, with substantially the same meaning. But of the actual use of the verb in Syriac to denote to stand, no example has yet been found, as Michaelis (in his edition of Castell's Syriac Lexicon sub voce) observes, Standi significatione, reliquis linguis Orientalibus communem, apud Syros non reperio.' Yet it has been the general opinion of Syriac scholars, that the word used for ßanzito had originally that very signification, as the same great Orientalist mentions, In hac baptizandi significatione conferunt haud pauci cum Hebraico stetit, ita ut, stare, sit, stare in flumine, illoque mergi. In this opinion and explanation, even Gesenius concurred, as may be seen under 7, in the second edition of his Lexicon, by Dr. Robinson. But it is not too much to say, that discreet philology will feel some difficulty in accepting this view; Michaelis at least felt it, and declared, "Mihi verisimilius, diversum plane ab 2, litterarumque aliqua permutatione ortum ex submergere. The existence of some difficulty in the case is also indicated and aptly illustrated by the great diversity which is manifest in the explanations offered by


Syriac Philology.


those who agree in identifying the root in question with the Heb. Ay, to stand. We can point out at least four different explanations. 1. The one above-mentioned, as quoted by Michaelis, and approved by Gesenius. But here we are at a loss to comprehend what could have caused the ceremony to be named in reference to the standing, rather than to the immersion, in the water, seeing that the latter, and not the former, enters into the idea of baptism. Can a parallel be shown, where a transaction derives its name from one of its mere circumstances, rather than from a prominent and significant part of the process? The ecclesiastical use of Eucharist (vzaqioría) for the Lord's Supper, can scarcely be deemed a parallel; for the blessing, or giving of thanks, is an important part of the holy communion, the act being even twice repeated (1 Cor. 11: 24, 25; comp. chap. 10: 16). 2. Another view is, that the term means to stand at, or in, the water, in order to be sprinkled, or poured upon. So Dr. Henderson, perhaps on the authority of Schindler in Lex. Pentaglotton, who says, "Stabant enim, qui baptizabantur." But the same difficulty as above, presses us here again. And even if they were baptized in a standing posture, they undoubtedly, as Dr. Murdock well observes (p. 739), stood up also in various other religious acts (e. g. singing); and therefore the verb might be used to indicate such acts just as well as baptism. But of such use of it, there is no instance known. Besides, in the case of young infants, how could the two scholars here concerned, apply their own idea, "stabant enim, qui baptizabantur?" 3. Others think the meaning arose thus: to stand, then, to establish, or confirm, and then to be baptized, the rite of confirmation being in the Syrian and other Eastern churches administered immediately after baptism, and by the same person. So Dr. Augusti, Dr. Lee of Cambridge, and Moses Stuart. But there is no proof that the rite of confirmation, as it is called, was practised so early as the apostolic days, when doubtless was already emdoubtlessés ployed for Buzzieoda; or, if the apostles did practise that rite, it clearly was not always done immediately after baptism (see Acts 8: 14-17, 14: 21, 22). And besides, as Dr. M. justly argues (p. 740), if this verb in the causative conjugation, Aphel (31), to cause to stand, to confirm, served to express the administering of baptism, we should certainly expect the passive form of that conjugation, (zzÎ), to be caused to stand, to be confirmed, to express the receiving of baptism; whereas there is no instance of this form, but VOL. VIII. No. 31.


on the contrary, the simple intransitive form (s) is employed in that sense, though by hypothesis it properly means, to stand. 4. Lastly, we have Dr. Murdock's theory (p. 740), "that the early Syrian Christians, in conformity, very probably, with apostolic example and usage, employed the neuter verbs [to stand,] to denote the reception of Baptism, because they associated with that the idea of coming to a stand, or of taking a public and decisive stand, on the side of Christianity." This original suggestion has certainly been set forth in a pleasing manner, and is theologically very acceptable; but yet it appears to be philologically beset with difficulties, in common with the foregoing theories. Nor is it easy to see how it could apply to infant baptism. Could tender babes and little children be supposed "to take a public and decisive stand on the side of Christianity?”

One thing is very clear, namely, that if either of the above views be correct, it must follow that the use of and its derivatives, as expressive of baptism, was strictly technical, or peculiar to the language of the church, whilst the ordinary or secular meaning was simply, to stand, or some modification of that idea, and had no correspondence to Bazzilo, as found in classical Greek. Indeed, Dr. M. (p. 736) goes even farther than this, and affirms that the Syrian Christians, from the first, appropriated the verb exclusively to the baptismal rite, and that consequently we cannot expect to find it used in any other sense, in any of the existing Syriac books, except in the term for pillar, which he considers to be derived from it. But, now, let us see whether these conclusions be philologically correct. Are they warranted by facts, in the usage of the language?

The most ancient Syriac work now extant, is the Peshito version of the Bible, made early in the second century; and in it we find undeniable proofs, that, and its derivatives were actually used where neither the baptismal rite, nor any sort of standing, was intended. The verb occurs once in the Old Testament, in Num. 31: 23, where it means something like plunging: "All that abideth not the fire, ye shall make go through the water." Here the Hebrew is rendered) i. e. plunge it in water. Surely the religious idea of confirmation or of bringing to a stand will not apply in this case, where mere things are spoken of. In the New Testament we find several instances besides those in which the rite of baptism is intended. See John 5: 2, 4, 7, and 9: 7, where in each verse xoλvußý&qa, pool, or properly swimming-place, is expressed by the



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derivatives, which clearly has not here its ecclesiastical meaning of baptism or baptistery, a notable instance of which is found in Heb. 6: 4, where qoriovévres enlightened is explained in the very same terms that denote 'went down into the pool' in John 5: 4. No doubt the translator in Heb. 6: 4 intended to express who have once gone down into the baptistery,' and not 'who have once come to baptism;' nor who have descended into baptism,' as it is translated in a work called Horæ Aramaicæ, Lond. 1843. In Heb. 9: 10 the same derivative stands for fanriouós in the sense of washing or Jewish ablution; so also in Mark 7: 4, 8. The verb is found in Luke 11: 38 and Mark 7: 4 for ẞanricoua in its non-ecclesiastical sense of bathing. Dr. M. mentions (p. 736), that in these places in Mark and Luke, the Modern Syriac Version by the American Missionaries, has substituted other terms for those of the Peshito to express ablution. Such a change is open to at least one objection, viz., that it takes away from the Syrian reader so many clear proofs that is not a purely ecclesiastical term, any more than the Greek Banzio. One other class of passages remains to be mentioned, viz., those which speak of sufferings as overwhelming, which idea is conveyed by this very verb and a derivative from it, answering to βαπτίζομαι and βάπτισμα; see Matt. 20: 22, 23, Mark 10: 38, 39, Luke 12: 50. It turns out then that upwards of ten passages are to be found in the Peshito Bible, in which the Syriac words, elsewhere employed in that version for baptism, do not signify the Christian rite, and where they cannot mean anything like standing. The verb occurs in two or three instances also in the Apocrypha: in Judith 12: 7 it reads that Judith' went forth to the valley of Bethphalu by night and bathed (2001 soso) in the fountain of water,' where the Vulgate has et baptizabat se in fonte aquæ, and the Greek καὶ ἐβαπτίζετο ἐν τῇ παρεμβολῇ ἐπὶ τῆς anyis roũ vdatos. And in Susanna 13: 15 the verb occurs in the same sense three times, and here the Greek has lovoμaι and the Latin lavor. The passage is found in the Versio Syriaca Altera of Walton's Polyglott.

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We may here inquire in passing, what in ecclesiastical usage is the force of this verb? In regard to this, it is worthy of notice that Syrian church writers in speaking of baptism distinguish several kinds besides that of Christ, the first of which is called the baptism of the flood (see Assemani Bibliotheca Orientalis, III. p. 574) or ordinary bathing (Ibid. p. 357). This mode of speaking clearly recognizes a non-ritual use of the term pass and serves to indi

cate its real meaning to be immersion. But it is urged that if this were the real meaning understood by the Syrians, they would have used a different word, or, which is admitted by all to 2 signify to immerse. Now the fact is, they have used this word also for the baptismal rite, see in Castell's Lexicon under . We have farther proof of this in their Forms of Service for the administration of the rite. In the Nestorian Ritual, compiled by Jesujabus Adiabenus about A. D. 650 (Assemani loc. cit. pp. 113, 140), the officiating priest is represented as taking the child and dipping him in the water as and saying such a one is baptized

So in the name of the Father, etc., and then causing him to ascend from the water so as combo, see Assemani Bib. Orient. IV. (or part 2 of III.), p. 243. Compare with this the Anglican Rubric directing the priest to take the child and “dip it in the water discreetly and warily, saying, I baptize thee in the name," etc. There is another Syriac Ritual printed in a small 4to vol. at Antwerp, 1572, with the title Liber Rituum Severi Patriarchæ, etc. which Assemani does not mention at all in his great work. If this Ritual be authentic and now in actual use, it must be among the Jacobite or Monophysite Syrians, to whose party Severus belonged (Bib. Orient. II. p. 321). In this Baptismal Service we are told (p. 26) that the Son bowed down his head and was baptized ásó orasi Sil; and he is invoked (p. 36) in these words, "we beseech thee, who

and toiledlst and ܨܒܥܬ ܒܡܝܐ lippedst thy head in the water

broughtest up the whole world from the depth of sin: we invoke thee, who wast as a son of man baptized by John and receivedst testimony from thy Father and wast declared by the Holy Ghost: we invoke thee, who by thy holy baptism (1) openedst heaven which was

before closed on account of our sins."1

But to return to the non-ecclesiastical use of Nas and its derivatives, we have now to add examples from other writings. In general Syriac literature, only very few works have as yet been printed,

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1 On the usage of the terms in question in the Peshito Bible and the Syrian Fathers, there is much light thrown in a small work of rare philological merit, called A Critical Examination of the Rendering of ßanticos in the Ancient and many Modern Versions of the New Testament, by F. W. Gotch, A. M., Trin. Coll., Dublin. London, 1841. The celebrated Prof. Ewald once spoke of the scholarship of this work in terms of great praise.

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