Baptidzo – A More Precise Definition

“The position of the book Baptidzo is that the word Baptidzo is not an act but a changed condition, state, result or an effect accomplished brought about by any one of several possible acts.” Let’s flesh that out some. To be more precise in our definition, we will define Baptidzo in greater detail, and with far more words, as:

PRIMARY MEANING:

a) a thorough change of condition, a new state, a result, or an effect accomplished,

b) by being enveloped or mersed within a fluid,

c) without any limitation of time. This is the primary meaning of Baptidzo.

In other words, if a person were enveloped with water for an unlimited amount of time, that person would undergo a thorough change of condition, that is, that person would pass from life to death. As a result, the Greeks commonly used Baptidzo to refer to a drowning.

SECONDARY MEANING ONE:

a) a thorough change of condition, a new state, a result or an effect accomplished

b) without envelopment or mersion within a fluid, but instead

c) by any power or influence competent to control and to assimilate the baptized object to its own characteristics.

That particular change of condition would be dependent upon and indicated by an adjunct in the sentence, that is, additional words of explanation (Adjunct. 1: Something joined or added to another thing but not essentially a part of it. 2 a: A word or word group that qualifies or completes the meaning of another word or other words and is not itself a main structural element in its sentence, b: an adverb or adverbial attached to the verb of a clause especially to express a relation of time, place, frequency, degree, or manner; Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary). This is the secondary meaning of Baptidzo.

In other words, if it were said that a person was baptized by tragedy into grief, we would understand that the person had come under the power of a tragedy that possessed the power to thoroughly change the person from a state of peace and contentment into a state of grief by its power to control and to assimilate the person into the calamity. Of course, no liquid was present or needed to effect the change. The adjunct or additional word of explanation in this scenario is the word tragedy. This usage is also very common in Classic Greek.

SECONDARY MEANING TWO:

a) a thorough change of condition,

b) without envelopment or mersion within a fluid

c) by any power or influence competent to control and to assimilate the baptized object to its own characteristics

d) indicated by the absolute use of Baptidzo, this means Baptidzo is used without any adjunct in the sentence at all.

The difference in the secondary meaning of numbers One and Two is only found in point d). This is the result of adjunct words, which were long and frequently used, now dropped yet supplied mentally by the reader. It is the familiarity of the words that allow them to be dropped yet fully understood by the reader. In grammar this is called an ellipsis (Ellipsis: “The omissions of one or more words that are obviously understood but that must be supplied to make a construction grammatically complete.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary). “The doctrine of ellipsis is that which is the most essential requisite in any transaction may be omitted, on the ground that it cannot be missed, and therefore will not fail to be supplied” (Dale, James W., Christic Baptism and Patristic Baptism, (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1874, 1995), 217). This is still the secondary use of this word, but one in which little contextual material is given, but simply assumed by those intimately familiar with the subject.

For instance, it could be said that “a priest, for the purpose of ceremonial purification, baptized a person.” In time, after much common use, the phrase or adjunct “for the purpose of ceremonial purification” would be dropped from the sentence. But the audience would just as clearly understand what had happened if it were reported that “the priest baptized a person” (for the purpose of ceremonial purification) without these last words being actually in the sentence.

Words typically have several meanings, as any dictionary will quickly demonstrate. These definitions here do not exhaust the many facets of the word Baptidzo but they do provide us with the most obvious and most useful meanings of the word.

IN ESSENCE

Notice two elements common in these definitions: 1) there is no mode inherent in the definitions. Immersion, sprinkling, pouring and a great variety of other methods illustrate the possible modes of baptism found in Greek literature. Indicators, other than the actual word Baptidzo, determine the mode of the specific baptism (if it is mentioned at all), for inherent in this word there is no mode suggested. 2) The one recurring element of these definitions is “a thorough change of condition, a result, a new state, or an effect accomplished.” This tends to be the one universal feature of Baptidzo; often, if not generally, it is virtually the very essence of its meaning. However, the mode of producing this change of condition is never a part of the definition.

As an aside, notice the Greek suffix idzo found in Baptidzo. idzo introduces a causative notion in a Greek word. The meaning here is that Baptidzo causes either 1) an envelopment or 2) a thorough change of condition.

Therefore, the following points are essential if one is to understand the meaning of the word Baptidzo. The significance of this word:

1)… is in no way controlled or dependent upon by any particular form, act or mode.

2)… is often (but not always) dependent upon and controlled by the idea of envelopment within some element.

3)… is fundamentally connected with a continuance within this element for an indefinite period of time,

4) this results in a change of condition, state or result in the baptized object.