Tradition and Innovation: Baptismal Rite and Mystagogy in Theodore of Mopsuestia and Narsai of Nisibis

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In Tradition and Innovation, Nathan Witkamp convincingly argues that Narsai of Nisibis’ (d. ca. 503) baptismal rite and mystagogy, as portrayed in his Liturgical Homilies 21-22, are much less dependent on Theodore of Mopsuestia (ca. 350-ca. 428) than scholars have previously supposed. Narsai’s baptismal rite turns out to represent a particular East Syrian liturgical tradition, independent of Theodore. In his mystagogy, Narsai uses Theodore’s Baptismal Homilies 1-3 as just one source among others to create the artwork he desires. This detailed comparative study contributes to our understanding of rite and mystagogy in Theodore and Narsai within the broader early Syrian context, as well as to the reception of Theodore by Narsai and the East Syrian Church.
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Biographical Note

Nathan Witkamp, Ph.D. (2016), Evangelical Theological Faculty, Leuven/VU Amsterdam, is research fellow of the Netherlands Centre for Patristic Research. He has published several articles on the baptismal rites of Theodore of Mopsuestia and Narsai of Nisibis.

Table of contents

Preface Glossary Abbreviations Quotations
Introduction

Part 1 Preliminary Issues: Terminology and Structure


1 Terminology  1.1  Introduction  1.2  ‘Baptism’  1.3  ‘Mystery/ies’  1.4  ‘Initiation’ and ‘Baptismal Rite’
2 The Structure of the Rite  2.1  Theodore of Mopsuestia  2.2  Narsai of Nisibis  2.3  Concluding Comparison

Part 2 Rituals Preceding the Sacrament


3 Examination, Sponsor, Enrolment  3.1  Theodore of Mopsuestia  3.2  Narsai of Nisibis  3.3  The Rituals Contextualised  3.4  The Rituals Compared  3.5  Conclusion
4 Deliverance from Sin and the Devil  4.1  Theodore of Mopsuestia  4.2  Narsai of Nisibis  4.3  The Rituals Contextualised  4.4  The Rituals Compared  4.5  Conclusion
5 Apotaxis and Syntaxis  5.1  Theodore of Mopsuestia  5.2  Narsai of Nisibis  5.3  The Rituals Contextualised  5.4  The Rituals Compared  5.5  Conclusion

Part 3 Rituals of the Sacrament


6 The Signing on the Forehead  6.1  Theodore of Mopsuestia  6.2  Narsai of Nisibis  6.3  The Rituals Contextualised  6.4  The Rituals Compared  6.5  Conclusion
7 Baptism  7.1  Theodore of Mopsuestia  7.2  Narsai of Nisibis  7.3  The Rituals Contextualised  7.4  The Rituals Compared  7.5  Conclusion
General Conclusion
Bibliography Index

Readership

All interested in early Syrian baptism and the baptismal rites of Theodore of Mopsuestia and Narsai, and all concerned with Theodore’s influence on Narsai and East Syrian Christianity.

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