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reveals the important bearing which baptism was thought to have upon the life of the Spirit. The author of the Didache believes that running water should be used in baptism.31 Tertullian too is a believer in the magical power of water, as may be seen from the following statement: "With the increase of the grace of God water also acquired more power; that which once healed ills of the body now restores the soul; and that which worked temporal good now renews to eternal life.”32 The author of Barnabas is clearly of the opinion that baptism results in the driving out of the evil spirits in a man's heart, for before he becomes a Christian, his body is a house of demons.33 And Hermas evaluates baptism so highly as to build his whole ecclesiastical tower upon its waters. 34
We see then that baptism early became connected with the gift of the Spirit. The emotional experience resulting from the observance of the rite was ascribed to the presence of a spiritual being. The coming of the Spirit upon Jesus at his baptism, as Mark conceives it, was the acquisition on his part of a new divine element or increment in his life. The change which came into the believer's life at baptism was also thought to have been effected by some spiritual agency. It was not simply the application of water or the use of the name of Jesus that brought about this change; it was the presence of some spiritual force in the water and name that accomplished the feat. Hence it was not only the Spirit which a man obtained at baptism, but the Spirit himself was the power that made baptism effective.
The Lord's Supper too, early came to be considered as a means of inducing and stimulating pneumatic conditions. Among the original Jewish Christian group, it was evidently observed simply as a memorial feast, perhaps in imitation of the meals which Jesus had often eaten with his disciples. It is probable that when they thus ate together, they may have thought that Jesus himself was present with them as an unseen guest. At least it is natural that at such times their memories of him should have been very vividly aroused, and a consciousness of his presence in their midst would in such a case have been presupposed. Whether, however, their communion with him on such occasions was conceived of as being anything more than a matter of social fellowship is rather doubtful, though they may have been familiar with the ancient idea that the eating of sacred food placed a man in mystical communion with the deity to whom the food was consecrated.35 But this latter was more of a Gentile than a Jewish conception, and must have influenced the Christian thought of the Eucharist chiefly after the movement had spread into the Gentile world. It is noticeable that Paul occupies a middle position between the Jewish and Gentile conceptions. On the one hand he recommends to the Corinthian Christians the observance of the Lord's Supper as a memorial feast,36 while on the other hand he believes that the rite was a sacrament binding the participant with a mystic bond to his Lord.37
31 Did. 7:2.
33 Barn. 16. It might however with reason be objected that the author regards faith in Jesus' name as the power that drives out these demons, but it is nevertheless to be inferred that this exorcism, according to the opinion of the writer, took place at Baptism.
34 Sim. 9:16. Cf. also Mand. 4:3.
The possibility of a man entering into mystic union with the Deity through the partaking of food sacrificed to Him was an idea that had its roots in primitive beliefs, and was widely current in New Testament times. In the cult of Dionysos the flesh of a bull sacrificed to the god was torn with the teeth and eaten raw, the participant thinking that thus he obtained the divine life resident in the victim.38 The Attis worshipper partook of some food from a drum and of some drink from a cymbal;39 and that this was a sacred meal may be inferred from the description which Firmicus Maternus gives of the rite, especially in the passage where he exhorts the Attis devotee to become a partaker of the Christians' sacred meal: “Wretched one! Thou hast eaten poison and drunk of the cup of death. Meat of another kind it is that confers life and salvation, that restores the fainting, that calls back the wanderers, that raises the fallen, that grants to the dying the sign of endless immortality; seek the bread and cup of Christ, that you may fill your human nature with substance that is immortal.” The worship of Mithras also included participation in a sacred meal.40 And we might say that in general all food offered as a sacrifice to the gods was thought to possess a divine potency or strength which could be appropriated by the simple act of partaking of it.41 This belief was the cause for the difficulty
35 Robertson Smith, Relig. of the Semites, pp. 239 ff.
38 Clement, Protrep., I, 12, 17 f.; Arnobius, Adv. Nat., V, 19; Frazer, The Golden Bough, II, 165; Rohde, Psyche, pp. 301 ff.
39 Firmicus Maternus, De Errore Profan. Relig., ch. 18.
41 On ancient beliefs regarding the eating of a deity see Gruppe, Griech. Mythologie, p. 734; Dieterich, Eine Mithrasliturgie, p. 100; and Wendland, Hellen. Romisch. and contention that arose in the Corinthian church regarding the eating of meats that had thus been sacrificed, the strong or aveVua Tikoi, holding that since idols were nothing but matter and the creation of men's hands, the eating of meat sacrificed to them was a matter of indifference, the weak still holding to the belief that such meat had a spiritual potency of an evil nature.42
When these Gentiles became Christians, they applied these notions regarding the eating of sacred food to the common meal of the Christian cult, and made a sacrament out of it. And it is in the light of these ideas that one has to interpret the institution of the Lord's Supper as it was practised in the Gentile churches. The bread and wine of which they partook were regarded as surcharged with the potency of the Spirit of Jesus, and they believed that by partaking of these elements they received a new increment of divine substance in them that united them with the heavenly and risen Christ and gave them an assurance of immortality. Even the circle of readers to which the fourth Gospel was addressed was doubtless familiar with this mystical conception of sacred meals, for the use of such expressions by the author as “to eat the flesh" and "drink the blood of the Son of Man" would certainly point in that direction.43 Of course, the author of this Gospel did not believe in the crass sacramental use of the Lord's Supper which later came to prevail in the Church, for he did not intend these expressions to be interpreted in a literal and physical sense. That is clear from his statement in 6:62, 63 where he says: “What then if ye should behold the Son of Man ascending where he was before? It is the spirit that giveth life; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I have spoken unto you are spirit and are life.” His idea plainly is that when the believer receives the elements of the Lord's Supper, he does not partake of the physical body and blood of the earthly Jesus, but of the spiritual body of the heavenly Christ. The fourth Gospel then may also be cited in
Kultur, p. 127. The belief that by eating an inspired book one could gain possession of the Spirit belongs to this same category. See Ez. 3:2 ff. Jer. 15:16; and Rev. 10:8-10. In IV Ez. 14:38 we have an example of inspiration following the drinking of fire-like ter. This as well as the wine in the Eucharist finds a parallel in the wine which the Dionysiac worshipper drank to bring on an ecstatic condition (Diodorus, IV, 3).
42 I Cor. chs. 8-10. See Jubilees 12 for a late Jewish view as to the absence of spirits or demons in idols.
43 Jn. 6:51-59.
affirmation of the contention that the Lord's Supper as a rite was efficacious in maintaining the mystical union of the believer with his Lord.44
The laying on of hands was also regarded by the early Christians as a means of obtaining the Spirit; in this way spiritual power could be transferred from one person to another. This was the method Jesus is said to have employed quite often in his healing of the sick.45 His way of imparting a divine blessing to children was also of this nature,46 the idea being that by the placing of his hands upon their heads some spiritual power or substance would pass from him to them. The book of Acts gives a number of instances in which the Holy Spirit came upon those on whose heads the apostles and other Christian leaders placed their hands,47 and it seems to have been a form of imparting the Spirit particularly to those who were being set aside for some special task and needed an unusual endowment of the Spirit.48 Paul is significantly reticent on the subject, and it is suggested that the reason for this was the fact that this rite did not easily admit of a mystical interpretation.49 Since Paul does not mention the laying on of hands in his letters, he may not have observed this custom of the early Church and the statement in Acts 19:6 would then be a misrepresentation. That the rite became more popular after the time of Paul is perhaps indicated in the prominence which it occupies in the Pastoral letters.50 But to the author of Hebrews it was one of the rudiments of the Christian faith and was something beyond which he wanted his readers to go.51
** The pnuara of vs. 63 is sometimes regarded as indicating that Jn. broke away from all ritual and believed that union with Christ could be attained merely through the reception of Jesus' divine message from heaven. But the context, especially vss. 60-62 favors the opinion that dńuata refers to the immediately preceding discourse on the Eucharist.
45 Mark 6:5; 8:23, 25; Luke 4:40; 23:11. The disciples later also healed in this way (Acts 9:12-17; 28:8).
46 Mark, 10:16.
7 Acts 8:17 ff.; 9:17; 19:6. The inability to impart the Holy Spirit which the author of Acts implicitly ascribes to Philip is doubtless unhistorical. The author is an ecclesiastic and endeavors to make Jerusalem the source of spiritual power. It was necessary for Peter and John to go down to Samaria to impart the Spirit because the author of Acts regarded the church at Jerusalem as the true and only source from which the stream of spiritual life should flow. Philip as a pneumatikos certainly should have had the power of imparting the Spirit as well as the leaders at Jerusalem.
48 Acts 6:6; 13:3.
61 Heb. 6:2. The case of the heavenly Christ laying his hand on the head of the Apocalyptist (Rev. 1:17) should be noticed in this connection. A similar instance occurs in Harpocration, 137, 7.
The origin of the custom may well have been Jewish. It was a practice among the Hebrew people employed especially when they desired to set aside a person or group of persons for some specific task that was thought to require more equipment than the normal faculties of the human soul could furnish.52 But it had its roots in the common primitive belief that spiritual energy could be transmitted from one person to another through contact. It was simply the practice of sympathetic magic.
A similar practice was the anointing of the head with oil. This was a custom that was in considerable vogue among the Jews and was employed by them especially when a man was appointed to a specific office. But in the New Testament it appears to have been used chiefly in the healing of the sick, the oil being regarded as possessing some power to drive away the demon of disease.53
Prayer too was considered a means of producing pneumatic states. And this was an idea common to both Jews and Greeks.54 The author of Acts represents the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost as having been preceded by a season of prayer on the part of the disciples.55 Prayer to him was the means of obtaining a knowledge of the divine will.56 The Spirit came to the Samaritans only after the apostles had prayed and had laid their hands on them ;57 and Peter obtained his visions on the housetop as he was in the act of prayer.58 Prayer was commonly offered when men were set apart for some special work and needed
52 Num. 8:10; 27:18; Deut. 34:9.
53 Mark 6:13; Jas. 5:14. It should be noticed with reference to the latter passage that the name of Jesus was also used in connection with the anointing as it was in the rite of baptism. The scanty reference to this practice in the New Testament would indicate that it was perhaps not extensively observed by the Christians.
54 See for example I Sam. 8:6 f.; Is. 21:6; Hab. 2:1; Judith 11:17; and Jub. 12 for the Jewish conception of obtaining visions or a knowledge of God's will through prayer. And it was believed by the Greeks, especially by the Gnostics, that if a man could not have visions in which his soul ascended to heaven, he could by prayer call down the deity or his Spirit to take possession of him (Reitzenstein, Poimandres, p. 178). The prayer to Hermes found in Kenyon, Gr. Papy., I, p. 116, is based on such a belief: “Come to me, O Hermes, is tà Bpéen eis tås kolias Twv yuvalk@v."
55 Acts 1:14. 56 Acts 1:24. 57 Acts 8:15. 58 Acts 10:9.