indicating that John?s baptism, either in its form or its application, was a new ordinance that required special divine authorization.
Broadus, in his American Com. on <400306>Matthew 3:6, claims that John?s baptism was no modification of an existing rite. Proselyte baptism is not mentioned in the Mishna (A. D. 200). The first distinct account of it is in the Babylonian Talmud (Gemara) written in the fifth century. It was not adopted from the Christians but was one of the Jewish purification, which came to be regarded after the destruction of the Temple as a peculiar initiatory rite. There is no mention of it as a Jewish rite, in the O. T., N.
T., Apocrypha, Philo, or Josephus.
For the view that proselyte baptism did not exist among the Jews before the time of John, see Schneckenburger, Ueber das Alter der judischen Proselytentaufe; Stuart, in Bib. Repos., 1833:338-355; Toy, in Baptist Quarterly, 1872:301-332. Dr. Toy, however, in a private note to the author (1884), says: ?I am disposed now to regard the Christian rite as borrowed from the Jewish, contrary to my view in 1872.? So holds Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus, 2:742-744 ? ?We have positive testimony that the baptism of proselytes existed in the times of Hillel and Shammai. For, whereas the school of Shammai is said to have allowed a proselyte who was circumcised on the eve of the Passover to partake after baptism of the Passover, the school of Hillel forbade it. This controversy must be regarded as proving that at that time (previous to Christ) the baptism of proselytes was customary.?
Porter, on Proselyte Baptism, Hastings? Bible Dict., 4:132 ? ?If circumcision was the decisive step in the case of all male converts, there seems no longer room for serious question that a bath of purification must have followed, even though early mention of such proselyte baptism is not found. The law (Leviticus 11-15; Num.?19) prescribed such baths in all cases of impurity, and one who came with the deep impurity of a heathen life behind him could not have entered the Jewish community without such cleansing.? Plummer, on Baptism, Hastings? Bible Dict., 1:239 ? ?What is wanted is direct evidence that, before John the Baptist made so remarkable a use of the rite, it was the custom to make all proselytes submit to baptism. Such evidence is not forthcoming. Nevertheless, the fact is not really doubtful. It is not credible that the baptizing of proselytes was instituted and made essential for their admission to Judaism at a period subsequent to the institution of Christian baptism. The supposition that it was borrowed from the rite enjoined by Christ is monstrous.?
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