C A Baptism of Preparation

One of the most constant features in John's preaching is the promise of a future baptism which John contrasts with his own. The constant elements are common to all four Gospels, and probably also Q: T baptize you with water; he will baptize you with Holy Spirit'.108 The implication is that reception of John's baptism was a way to prepare for the future baptism. Later Christian interpretation assumed that 'baptize' in both cases means 'baptize in water' and that the future baptism is (or proved to be) Christian baptism in 'water and Spirit' (cf. John But the first assumption hardly makes sense of John's contrast, in which his own baptism is clearly distinguished from the future baptism precisely in that John's baptism is 'in water', implying that the future baptism will have a different medium ('in Spirit'). As we shall see below (§ 11.4c), the metaphorical force of the imagery 'baptize' has been ignored. And identification of the future baptism with Christian baptism can be sustained only by taking John's contrast out of the immediate context of his preaching. Here again, since Christian usage is so ness to repent' (Gnilka, Jesus of Nazareth 73); 'an expression of repentance' (Strecker, Theology 224); other bibliography in Webb 186 n. 79; earlier discussion in my Baptism in the Holy Spirit (London: SCM, 1970) 15-17. Taylor reacts against the phrase 'repentance-baptism', but confuses the discussion with the question whether John's baptism was 'initiatory', argues for a rather mechanical 'sequential relationship' (repentance before immersion), and fails to appreciate the power of the ritual moment in bringing a desire to repent to climactic and public expression (Immerser 88-98; note the tendentious rendering of 1QS 3.8-9 on p. 78). On 'repentance' see further below § 13,2a.

107. Webb argues for the former (John the Baptizer 193); Ernst (Johannes der Täufer 334-36), Guelich {Mark 1-8 20) and Meier (Marginal Jew 2.54-55) for the latter, though Meier surprisingly does not bring Josephus into the discussion.

108. Mark 1.8; Q 3.16-17 (reconstructions of Q agree that it probably contained Matt. 3.11-12/Luke 3.16-17); John 1.26, 33.

109. E.g., O. Cullmann, Baptism in the New Testament (London: SCM, 1950) 10; K. McDonnell and G. T. Montague, Christian Initiation and Baptism and the Holy Spirit (Collegeville: Liturgical, 1991) 27, 30; earlier discussion in Dunn, Baptism 18-20.

derivative from John's we need at least to attempt to clarify John's talk of 'baptizing' by first setting it into the context of his message.

11.4. John's Message

The high evaluation of John by his contemporaries and in Christian tradition, as well as the likely influence of John on Jesus, also gives John's preaching an unexpected importance. It is unlikely that we will uncover and understand Jesus' preaching adequately unless we take the opportunity to grasp the content and character of what must have served in one degree or another as the foil for Jesus' mission.

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