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Document Details :

Title: Baptism and the Two Ages
Subtitle: How Theodore of Mopsuestia Chose Biblical Images for his Explanation of Baptism
Author(s): PUCHKOVA, Sofia
Journal: Journal of Eastern Christian Studies
Volume: 73    Issue: 1-2   Date: 2021   
Pages: 1-15
DOI: 10.2143/JECS.73.1.3289363

Abstract :
In his homilies on baptism, Theodore of Mopsuestia does not use traditional scriptural images such as the flood, the crossing of the Red Sea, circumcision and marriage metaphors to explain the meaning of the sacrament. Instead, the images of the second birth, the death and resurrection with Christ and the adoption of children are employed. In addition, Theodore uses less known image of the refashioning of a broken potter’s vessel. My paper tackles the question of why Theodore does not use some images and why he uses others. To answer this question, I shall demonstrate the influence of Theodore’s doctrine of the Two Ages on his biblical exegesis of the discourse with Nicodemus ('second birth', Jn 3:1-13), the passage on baptism as death and resurrection with Christ (Rom 6:3-5), the narrative of Jesus’ baptism ('adoption of children', Mt 3:13-17) and Jeremiah’s visit to the house of a potter ('refashioning of a vessel', Jr 18:1-6). Indeed, these passages aim to illustrate the Two Ages from different perspectives. The first three passages imply the transfer to the Second Age and the acquisition of the features of divine nature. The last image of the refashioning of a broken vessel alludes to the obtaining of immutability. Theodore does not use the images of the flood, the crossing of the Red Sea and circumcision, because they do not suit his aim, which is to explain the change of the state of human nature in baptism as he himself understands it through the lenses of his doctrine of the Two Ages.

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