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The Translation of "Baptizo"
James M. Pendleton, 1859
From the Tennessee Baptist
      I have not seen Conant's revision of the gospel of Matthew, but I learn from exchanges that he assigns the following reasons for translating baptize, immerse. They are to me perfectly satisfactory reasons. If any man, Baptist or Pedobaptist, thinks he can invalidate them let him try it. - P.

      "I. This word expresses a particular act, vis: immersion, in a fluid or any yielding substance.

      "II. The word had no other meaning; it expresses this act alone, either literally, or in a metaphorical sense, through the whole period of its use in Greek literature.

      "III. Its grammatical construction with other words, and the circumstances connected with its [___ blurred], second entirely with this meaning, and exclude every other.

      "IV. In the age of Christ and his Apostles, as in all periods of the language, it was in common use to express the most familiar acts and occurrences of every day life; as, for example, immersing an axe in water, to harden it; immersing the finger in oil, or in blood to besmear it; a ship submerged in the waves; rocks immersed in the tide; and, (metaphorically), immersed in cares, in sorrow, ignorance in poverty, in debt, in stupor and sleep, etc.

      "V. There was nothing sacred in the word itself or in the act which it expressed. The idea of sacredness belonged solely to the relation in which the act was performed.

      "VI. In none of these respects does the word baptize, as used by English writers, correspond with the original Greek word. For,

      "1. It does not express any one definite act.
      "2. It is never used to express any familiar act of daily life.
      "3. On the contrary, it expresses only a religious act; and that not of the private individual, but an ecclesiastical rite, an ordinance of the Church.
      "4. Hence, this word has become an ecclesiastical symbol, representing in itself all the ideas comprehended in initiation into the Christian Church.
      "5. And hence, also, it has acquired certain mystical sense; with which is associated in many minds, and even in large communities, the idea of an inherent virtue in the rite itself.

      "VII. The use of this foreign word, of indefinite meaning and purport in English, tends to perpetuate that fatal error, of attaching a mystical sense and efficiency to the rite signified by it.

      "VIII. It concerns the purity of Christianity, that its rites could be expressed in terms so clear and explicit, as to guard against such - perversion of their true meaning and intent.

      "IX. The rendering been given is necessary, to chow [show] the true significance and purport of the Christian rite, and the obligation to which it binds those who receive it.

      "X. This rendering is also necessary to the correct and full understanding of passages in the New Testament, relating to the Christian life; e.g. Romans vi, 3 and 4; Colossians ii, 12, iii, 1; Galatians iii, 27.

      "XI. In rendering the Greek word immerse, I follow the example of the leading vernacular versions, made from the Greek, in the languages of Continental Europe, and also of the critical version made for the use of the learned.

      "XII. The correctness of this rendering is attested by the requirements and practice of the Church in all ages till within a comparatively recent time.

      "XIII. Its correctness is also attended by the expressed opinions of eminent scholars, in all communities.
      "The word is so rendered, in translating the New Testament into the English, where the Christian rite is not intended. For example by Dr. Campbell (Principal of Marlesbal College, Aberdeen), Translation of the Gospeia, Matthew xx, 22, and Mark x, 38: "Can ye . . . undergo an immersion, like that which I must undergo?"

      "XIV. This is not a sectarian rendering; for that cannot be called sectarian, which is proved, on indisputable philological evidences, to be the true rendering of God's word, and which has been [___ ___ ___ 3 words blurred] by the former practice of the whole Christian Church, and is admitted to be so by scholars of all communions.

      "XV. A duty required of every believer, at his entrance on the Christian life, and plainly expressed in the divine word, chould [could] be made equally clear in every version of it. If it can be proved on philological evidences that the writer has not given the true meaning of this word he will be ready to adopt any other version, that shall be shown to be the correct one."


[From the Tennessee Baptist, December 3, 1859, p. 1, via microfilm on CD edition. Source location from Thomas White, Cedarville U, OH, Selected Writings of Pendleton... Transcribed and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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