MAKING BODY POLITIC: THE RHETORIC OF EARLY CHRISTIAN BAPTISMAL DISCOURSE

Gerhard A. Van den Heever

Abstract


This article considers contemporary baptismal discourse in a Reformed theological
context in its relation to early Christian baptismal practice and discourse. It is
argued that whereas Reformed baptismal discourse presents the ritual as connection
with divinity, early Christian baptismal practice had a primarily social function.
Early Christian baptism was a way of constituting a new “body politic.” The
difference between the two types of baptismal discourse is an effect of the different
social functions of the two religious discourses in different contexts. The changing
nature of religious performance as demonstrated via different conceptions of
baptism, illustrates – and undergirds – a social theory of religion.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7833/90-0-1061

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ISSN 2305-445X (online); ISSN 0254-1807 (print)

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