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There is in fact only episodic evidence for such a practice, and it can be doubted whether pilgrim baptism ever was a common undertaking.85 We can be reasonably certain that, for most Christians, the sacramental link between Christ's baptism and their own baptisms did not need to be reinforced by reference to the place of Christ's baptism. Instead, the evidence suggests that they were far more concerned to find in their own baptisms the power at work that Christ brought to restore the devastated human condition. Perhaps, in keeping with the idea that, through the incarnation, Christ had assumed all that being a human entails in order to heal it,86 some Christians may have held that this power was activated by Christ's baptism as a man (though I am unaware of any source that makes such a claim). What is clear is that, during this period, Christians generally demonstrated a preference for certain symbolic connections. On the whole, Christians preferred to associate their baptisms with Christ's resurrection by holding them during the feast of Easter (rather than with his baptism, at Epiphany); the symbolic and sacramental connection that is implicit in that choice may help to explain why we have no real evidence that Christians during this period were bothered to secure their baptisms to Christ's by seeking to be baptised in the Jordan. But even so, the liturgical celebration of Jesus' own baptism clearly enriched Christian reflection upon salvation, not least through reinforcing the belief that effects of baptism are the work of God. What occurs at baptism is thus a theophany -a manifestation of God, who works salvation for his people.

Becoming christs

What results for the people for whom God works salvation? The available evidence in answer to that question takes us from the domains of moral performance and spiritual understanding to what might broadly be called mystical experience. Through actualising the grace of baptism in their lives (as described by Mark the Monk, Macarius and others), Christians believed they would enjoy an intimate relationship to God. That baptism is a decisive event in the process is clear from Dionysius the Areopagite's gloss on baptism as 'the most divine mystery of God being born' in the Christian.87 Philoxenus similarly says that, by baptism, 'God [becomes] in all and all in God.'88 In view of such claims, it was perhaps inevitable that controversy should arise.

85 See Day, Baptism in early Byzantine Palestine, 38-9.

86 Thus, Origen, Dialogue with Heracleides 7 (SC 67: 71-2) and Gregory of Nazianzus, Or. 29.19 (SC 250: 216-18) and Letter 101 (SC 208: 36-68).

88 Philoxenus, On Matthew, frag. 12 (CSCO 392:19; 393: 16).

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