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drawn by Paul, whose teaching on life, death, renewal and participation in the death of Christ is held together by his claims about baptism (see especially Romans 6). Later generations would further enrich this network of associations by interpreting Christ's own baptism - a 'going down into the deep' - as an anticipation of his descent into Hades.5 This connection of themes is but the beginning of what will ultimately appear as an intricate tapestry of symbols and events. At a more practical level, early Christian literature indicates that procedures for, and interpretations of, baptism were developing among Christians from a very early stage.6 Already in the post-apostolic generations, we find baptism linked to ecclesiastical hierarchy, to a remission of sins that enables one to live purely, and to the eucharist.7 If Bishop Bernard's persuasive arguments regarding the provenance of the Odes of Solomon are accepted, one may find in 'the continual stress laid by the Odist upon the privileges of Divine grace which have lately been placed within his reach' some stirring evidence of a late second-century response to the effects of baptism.8

By the time of the Constantinian settlement, abundant resources were already available to Christians for the purposes of discussing sin and salvation in terms of baptism.

Drawing near the waters of regeneration

Baptism is the culmination of the rites associated with full membership in the church, and as such is preceded by several important observances. A generalised outline based on evidence from around the Mediterranean can be advanced as follows: enrolment as a learner and subsequent instruction, scrutiny, several exorcisms, the renunciation of Satan and swearing of allegiance to God, the baptism proper, vesting in white clothes, unction and communion. Throughout much of this period, baptisms took place as an integral part of the Easter festivities as a matter of course (though, as we shall

5 E.g., Origen, Homilies on Exodus 5.2 (SC 321: 154-6); see further J. H. Bernard, The Odes of Solomon, 32-9.

6 E.g., Didache 9.5 and Letter of Barnabas, especially 16.8.

7 The examples are taken from Ignatius, To the Smyrnians 8.2; Hermas, Precepts 4.3; Justin, Apology 1.66.1. Although the authors mentioned so far are part of the developing tradition of Christian orthodoxy, reflecting upon baptism in this way was not the preserve of the orthodox. Some of Clement of Alexandria's writings contain fragmentary evidence of robust interpretations of Christ's death and baptism as elements in a complex Gnostic Christian synthesis: see Clement, Excerpta e Theodoto 76-86 (SC 23:198-212). For further treatment of baptism among the Sethian Gnostics, seeJ.-M. Severin, Le dossier baptismale sethien.

8 Bernard, The Odes of Solomon, 3; cf.J. H. Charlesworth, The Odes of Solomon, vii. For further discussion, see especially M. Lattke, Die Oden Salomos, bd. 3.

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