Sundays With St. Paul: “As You Were”…

This is part of a series I’m writing for Near Emmaus. Feel free to read it there or read other posts by other bloggers.

Our class discussion this week brought us to 1 Cor. 7:17-24 with an emphasis on v. 19. Yet when I read the passage, I was struck by v. 20; “Let each of you remain in the condition in which you were called.”[1] I sensed echoes to what was mentioned in last week’s post, that Judaism and Christianity were not yet seen as separate belief systems. Yet if we’re to read this verse under what Paul says in v. 17; “… This is my rule in all the churches,” then might this be Paul’s purpose all along? For Jews to remain Jews, Gentiles to remain Gentiles, married to remain married, etc.?

In v. 18 Paul says, “Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision.” This point of remaining in one’s own context is again emphasized in v. 21, “Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it.” And later on in chapter 7, he says, “Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife.” With this theme of “as you were” in mind, might it possible that Paul never intended to start something new?

In the particular topic of v. 19, which says, “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but obeying the commandments of God is everything,” we discussed Paul’s implicit thoughts on the law or “the commandments.” Is he discussing ritual commandments or the Ten Commandments (the Decalogue)? Is he making a distinction between ritual purity and moral purity and implying the latter is more important than the former?

What do you think? Is Paul’s ultimate argument here to remain “as you were” and that one’s own context is not more “right” than another’s? What do you make of his comment about obeying the commandments? Is he going against the understanding of “law” of his time or stepping right in line with what Jesus says about fulfilling the law in Matt. 5:17?


[1] New Revised Standard Version

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Baptism Part 7: Introduction to Christian Baptism…

Baptism gets interesting when it’s brought to Christianity. In the Dead Sea Scrolls, ritual immersion plays a major role in the belief system and practice at Qumran. But in the New Testament, there is a rich diversity of what baptism means and how it’s practiced. It’s difficult – probably near impossible – to give one decisive meaning for baptism, which then makes it essential to look at each text in and of itself to see what possible meanings can be deduced.

In my paper I broke it down to five main spheres of influence: John’s baptism (which combines the various Gospel views), Paul’s baptism (drawing from Galatians 3:27-29 and Ephesians 4:5), Acts 19:1-7 (which is an interesting turning point in the Christian baptism), 1st Peter 3:21, and – since it was a discussion of early Christianity and not just New Testament Christianity – Didache 7, which probably has more of a philosophical interpretation than the others.

I really didn’t get to discuss these varying facets at any real length, just briefly highlighting one or two main points. But since I’m not trying to fit any 12-15 page limitation, I’m hoping to break open each of these more fully. Also, after writing two 13-page papers on people being dunked in water, I’ve noticed other verses and passages in the NT that offer an interesting view of baptism and I’m looking forward to discussing those as well.

Right now, my plan for this next set of posts is to implement Gerd Theissen’s thoughts mixed with a couple other scholars (Everett Ferguson, N.T. Wright, and others). Theissen’s book, The Religion of the Earliest Churches: Creating a Symbolic World, acted as the framework of thought for Dr. Falk’s Early Christianity class in the winter, so I thought it’d be interesting to present some of his main points and invite readers into some of the discussions we had as a class.

Since from here on out is a long discussion on Christian baptism, I think it’d be best to title this set of posts as such; “Christian Baptism.” Of course there will be references back to Qumran or Greco-Roman washing rituals to discuss certain similarities, but ultimately my focus will be on the New Testament books as well as some of the non-canonical books (books that, for one reason or another, didn’t make it into the New Testament).

Ultimately the goal is to see/discuss the formulation of Christian thought regarding baptism’s role in following Christ. Was it simply an initiatory rite or could an early Jewish-Christian still partake in purity rituals? Was it thought of as simply a metaphor or did one need to physically be baptized? In answering and/or discussing these questions, I’m hoping to read through the New Testament and relevant books to see the evidence with fresh eyes. As scholars indicate, we can’t look into the minds of the New Testament authors and know what they were thinking when they penned their letters/gospels. But what we can do is read the text for what it is and go from there.

As N.T. Wright says, though, it can’t simply be a discussion based on speculation and mystical fantasy; there must be some grounding in historical evidence. Currently I’m reading his book The New Testament and the People of God, which I hope will provide some historical insight that isn’t otherwise present in the New Testament. I’ll also borrow information from Bart Ehrman and his textbook, A Brief Introduction to the New Testament.

There isn’t much time left in the summer, so I’m hoping to milk it for all it’s worth. Once again, though, I open the floor to any who would like to share questions, thoughts, or possible conclusions on the various things I write. What drove both my religious studies classes last winter wasn’t a long series of lectures from Professor Falk (although I’d pay just as much for that as well). No, what drove those seminars were the class discussions. Students’ thoughts were shared, challenged, and refined and I’m hoping something similar happens through these posts.

***For all the previous posts on baptism/ritual immersion, please click here or the “Baptism” tab on the side.

Baptism Part 6: Immersions in the Greco-Roman World…

To read (or reread) the previous posts regarding baptism, here they are: Intro, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5. Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments on any of these posts.

Ritual purity was not an exclusively Jewish or Christian idea; paganism had a major emphasis on purity through immersion as well. As a friend commented on my last post, it was a way to keep the gods happy so that bad things wouldn’t happen. Newborn Christians in the ancient world, especially the Gentile Christians, had to come face to face with the surrounding pagan view of immersion. Much like separating from Judaism, Christianity now had to separate itself from paganism.

And yet, as discussed below, there was something unique about pagan rituals of immersion that one doesn’t necessarily find in Jewish immersions: washing for personal hygiene. Baptism within the Christian mythology and teachings needed to be interpreted as something more than a ritual and more than a simple bath. Everett Ferguson (the scholar who discusses quite a few similarities and differences between John the Baptist and Qumran) outlines 4 main points for Greco-Roman pagan washings: general usage for purification, washings in the mystery religions, bathing practices, and then a special case from mythology (25-37).

a.      General Usage for Purification

Ferguson notes that these washings were already so common in the Second Temple time period that little information exists that details how they were conducted. But basically, paganism within the Greco-Roman world believed immersions were necessary in order to be cleansed before entering a temple (i.e. the temple of Athena at Pergamum), after warfare, before handling sacred things (i.e. one’s hand-made idols), and/or in order to set oneself in a spiritual position to properly obtain an oracle. As I’ll discuss in later posts, Christian baptism appears essential in order to receive the Spirit of God.

b.      Washings in the Mystery Religions

While the Mysteries had similar themes to the Christian baptism (i.e. “ideas of forgiveness, rebirth after a mystic death, eternal life, and illumination,” – Ferguson 28-29) their immersion ritual usually was a preliminary preparation for the entire ceremony of initiation. I’ll get into this a little deeper later on, but it’s important to emphasize the preliminary aspect of the immersion ritual. The whole ceremony for initiations was usually concluded with a meal (which in and of itself was similar to the Christian Eucharist or communion, but that’s a topic for another post).

c.       Bathing Practices

In Roman society, as Ferguson notes, bathing was regarded as healthy and encouraged amongst the Roman men. The “ritual,” as he suggests was as follows; “The typical order of the baths was a warm bath, a hot bath, and a cold plunge, and the baths had separate rooms for each: the tepidarium [tepid’ water], the caldarium [hot water], and the frigidarium [‘frigid’ water],” (35).

d.      A Special Case from Mythology

Of the four points from Ferguson’s outline, I found this one most interesting, especially in regards to the baptismal idea of complete immersion. Thetis, the goddess of mother of Achilles, dipped him in the River Styx in the underworld in order to make him entirely invulnerable. Where she held him at – and the only point on Achilles’ body that was not immersed in the water – was his heel, which implicitly stresses the importance of complete immersion. In John’s Gospel, when Jesus bends down to wash Peter’s feet, Peter cries out, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” (13:9). It isn’t entirely clear whether or not this mythological example influenced the early Christian idea of full immersion, but it’s an interesting resemblance nonetheless.

This is the world surrounding Christianity when it emerged. As is the case on several levels of theology, immersion into water had to be redefined for the early Christian. If it wasn’t so very different from pagan or Jewish rituals, then the whole message of the gospel could have been disregarded. As I’ll discuss in the next couple of posts, the early Christian world had some difficulties in defining what baptism meant, but ultimately, it had to be more than a bath and more than a purity ritual. Christian baptism had to contain a key ingredient that superseded all other versions of immersion. As the NT makes clear, there is indeed such an ingredient: the Holy Spirit.

Baptism Part 5: John the Baptist and Qumran…

Once again, I’ve taken a long break from this series (this time, two months), but I hope to finish them off by the end of this summer. If you haven’t read (or would like to re-read) any of the previous posts, here they are: Intro, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, & Part 4. Feel free to ask questions and/or make comments.

Comparisons between the Qumran Community and John the Baptist aren’t that difficult to make. Both were related with Jewish priests in a unique way; both seemed to have a large age-gap between parents and children; both were located in the wilderness (possibly very close to each other); both ministry’s were based on Isaiah 40:3; and both practiced – in a unique way – immersions (Ferguson, 87). And as I discussed in my papers, both believed that their practice of ritual immersion was a part of their ministry to usher in God’s eschatological kingdom.

What was different? Quite simple: Qumran’s immersions were repeatable whereas John’s were not. With Qumran, as we’ve seen, there were three categories of immersion: Initiation, renewal, and purification. But with John’s baptism, it was once and only once. And yet even beneath that surface-level difference, it appears to have meant something different to each, as well.

Qumran’s immersion was a way of entering and then re-aligning oneself in the pathway of God. John’s baptism, which eventually became the model for Christian baptism, was a foreshadowing of the baptism to come; a one and done practice wherein one would enter the kingdom of God without needing to be ritually immersed once more. And yet the book of Acts contains an instance where John’s baptism is explicitly superseded by the baptism into Christ, but I’ll save that for a later post.

Both Qumran and John the Baptist utilize immersion in a central way to their overall movements, but with different purposes attached. Qumran’s was an important pathway-check to make sure each member wasn’t only studying the Torah, but strictly retaining purity as well. With John, though, purity was given in one act, “For the forgiveness of sins,” as Mark indicates (1:4). Perhaps a good way of looking at the comparison (though definitely not a perfect way) is to think of a sports team’s tickets throughout the season. Either you can buy an individual ticket for every game or you can buy a season pass. That’s sort of what the differences look like.

Yet it’s crucial to emphasize that both John and Qumran were intensely focused on genuine repentance. Neither would view the act of baptism as the redeeming factor; one’s heart and mind must be authentically in a repentant state. And it also wasn’t as if you could simply get baptized with a repentant heart and have that be the end of it. In both movements, following God’s commandments was an additional, crucial element to ushering in God’s kingdom.

Christian baptism followed John’s model of a one-time immersion, but added a major element with a major difference as to what was happening. It’s clear to me that both Qumran and John the Baptist believed something extreme was changing in their worlds and that they were playing a major role – especially within their immersion practices. And yet, Qumran thought that God’s kingdom would arrive through their movement – within their community. John believed that he was merely preparing the way for the One, Jesus.

In the next several posts, we’ll see how baptism is portrayed in the Gospels, NT letters, and even some non-canonical texts that discuss baptism’s role. In addition to all of that, the history of baptism in the pagan community stands out as something that the Christian baptism needed to distinguish itself from. And so we’ll look at the elements of Greco-Roman immersion.

Baptism Part 2: Introduction to the Dead Sea Scrolls…

For those who have never even heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls, they’re pretty fascinating manuscripts. Discovered near the Qumran ruins in 1947 (roughly), these ancient scrolls have stirred much conversation amongst scholars and a little controversy amongst the lay readers. They’ve changed the way one views Second Temple Judaism and even early Christianity. Some of the manuscripts found in the 11 caves surrounding Qumran are the oldest Biblical manuscripts that we have today – they’ve even been used to correct some of the modern-day manuscripts used as sources in modern-day Bibles (compare 1 Samuel 10:27b-11:1 of the Harper-Collins NRSV Study Bible with any other Bible and you’ll see what I mean. Right after “But he held his peace,” there isn’t anything in the ESV. But thanks to a manuscript from Qumran, there’s been a paragraph added in).

How these manuscripts came to be discovered exactly is uncertain, but the story goes as a Bedouin shepherd named Muhammed edh-Dhib was out tending his flock with two of his friends. One of them started throwing rocks at cave openings in the cliffs near Qumran for entertainment (apparently there wasn’t much to do in Israel in 1947), when they heard something shatter inside. None of them went to check it out until sometime later when Muhammed separated from his friends, found the cave, and went inside. What he found were ten jars roughly two-feet high each; but only two of which had manuscripts in them. These first few were determined to be a copy of Isaiah, the Community Rule, and a commentary on the prophecy of Habakkuk. Four other scrolls were found a little later; the Hodayot (Thanksgiving Hymns), a partial copy of Isaiah, the War Scroll and the Genesis Apocryphon (which are, as James VanderKam notes, “stories based on some narratives in Genesis”). Since there is a ton of information on each of these texts, I’ll only briefly discuss the main manuscripts we covered in my class with Dr. Falk.

Damascus Document

Unlike the Community Rule or the War Scroll, this manuscript is not unique to Qumran; a copy of this was discovered much earlier than the Dead Sea Scrolls in Cairo, Egypt. Comparing the two copies, scholars have noticed that the Qumran copy has introductory material before the first column and that both copies have their columns arranged differently. In the early studies of the first copy at Cairo, scholars did not conclude that the community described in the text was a sectarian group, necessarily. They were separate from the other groups, but there is no indication in the text that the community had exiled themselves to the desert (at such a location like Qumran). VanderKam notes that passages such as “the assembly of the camps,” (12:23) indicates that whoever this group was, they had various settlements throughout ancient Judea (here is where many believe this is the Essene group – separate from the Sadducees and Pharisees. This suggestion has much in support of it, but isn’t concretely proven).

Community Rule

This is the primary text we studied from or referred to throughout the term. We studied this one more closely than the others simply because it’s very similar to the Damascus Document, but contains a lot of unique material to the Qumran sectarian group; there aren’t any other manuscripts outside the Qumran caves with this kind of material. There are also indications within the text itself that the Community was a group separated off from anyone else (i.e. Jerusalem). As I mentioned in the introductory post, this group took “into the wilderness” part of Isaiah 40:3 very literally. Some of the major components to this manuscript that I found are as follows: timing, purity, and knowledge.

a.      Timing

Part of my research for the ritual purification ceremonies at Qumran required learning about the initiation ceremony. And while I had focused on the immersion ritual involved, there is also a strong motif of proper timing. In order to become a member within the community, there was a very arduous procedure requiring much diligence and patience. One would apply for admittance to the “Guardian” or the “Overseer” (6:14), who would then examine his conduct and understanding of the Torah.

It isn’t clear how long he took to decide if an applicant was worthy, but once he did, there was another undetermined length of time before the initiate would be examined again, but this time by the whole council of the Community. The text does not say if this would be at the annual renewal ceremony (which is also a major part of my research for the ritual immersions practiced there); it simply says the initiate would be brought before the council again. If he was admitted into the Community, it was still a limited access. He would be allowed to partake in the sacred meal, but not the sacred drink. This whole process was the first year of probation.

His second year would be a deeper instruction into the ways of the Torah, but additionally the ways of their specific community (which had added many other teachings beyond the Torah – even two more sources of impurity. But I’ll discuss those in another post). After this probation was up (whenever this was), he would once again be brought before the council and they would discern whether or not if it was “his destiny” to be admitted. All throughout the Community’s discernment process was the motif of timing; if it was the right time to admit him into the next stage of discipline, etc. If the council decided it was not the right time at any stage, the initiate would be cast out or his probation period would be extended for however long the Community decided. In total, it could take as few as three years, but as long as 6 or 7 years, usually.

b.      Purity

This is at the heart of my research, so I’ll save most of the material for later posts. But just to set the tone for what’s to come, I’ll simply quote Hannah K. Harrington in saying that, “The biblical prescriptions for purity are often increased and impurity is regarded as a more potent force [in this Community] than it is by any other ancient Jewish group in antiquity,” (Purity Texts, 12). A couple noteworthy features to this increasing of the biblical purity prescriptions specifically within the Community rule are the two major ceremonies: Initiation and Communal Renewal. As already discussed, the initiation ceremony was a long and arduous process and once one was fully admitted, he was baptized for the sake of purity. One of the two additional sources of impurity (as Harrington notes) was contact with outsiders. Any new member would be considered as an outsider of sorts until he was fully admitted into the Community and immersed in water.

The annual renewal ceremony took place near the end of the third month in the Jewish calendar. It was a ceremony unlike any other for the entire Community would be immersed into the water nearly at the same time. The miqva’ot (immersion baths) had two sets a stairs with a partition down the middle separating the impure from the newly purified. On one side (lower stairs) each member would file into the pool and then come up the other side (higher stairs). It’s as if your entire congregation got into one big line and simply filed through the pool like a human conveyor belt. Beyond all that, though, was a major emphasis on repentance. There’s even a strong probability that certain purity hymns were recited during the whole ritual. It wasn’t just a mundane practice that you would go through; it was an act in worship, honor, and repentance to God all in one.

c.       Knowledge

As was already suggested above, learning and remembering the Torah as well as the specific teachings and principles of the Community was a major part of life at Qumran. One of their teachings regards the conduct of the Community during a gathering. First and foremost, you were brought into the gathering place according to your rank. Secondly, you were required to speak during the meetings, but not out of turn. If you did so out of turn, you would be cast out of the Community for a certain probationary period and only readmitted if the council decided so. Here is a small resemblance to Paul’s teachings in 1 Corinthians 14 about members speaking in tongues and prophesying. Speech requirements and yet regulations were a major practice in early Christianity, but I would argue much more so at Qumran.

Temple Scroll

Like the Damascus Document, this probably wasn’t a unique text to the Community at Qumran. Nevertheless there are still major themes within that do reflect similar sentiments found in the uniquely-Qumran texts. For one example, since it was a part of my research, the additional impurity source of excrement can be deduced when one combines the Temple Scroll’s limitation on how close the latrines could be from the Community (to Harrington’s estimation, roughly 4500 feet) with the limitations on far one could walk on a Sabbath (roughly 3500 feet). Basically, you couldn’t do your business on a Saturday because it was considered impure. Yeah, I wouldn’t join the group at Qumran either.

After it’s all said and done, I must re-emphasize that this is a brief introduction to the material from Qumran. If you want to learn more, we studied from James C. VanderKam’s The Dead Sea Scrolls Today in class as well as Carol Newsom’s The Self as Symbolic Space: Constructing Identity and Community at Qumran. Newsom’s is a much more in-depth look at the scrolls and requires a slow read to really understand what she’s saying. But nonetheless it’s a great read. VanderKam’s covers most of the major points of the scrolls’ history – including some of the controversial moments in the publication of the Scrolls. If you love religious literature, the Scrolls themselves are very interesting reads. We used Geza Vermes’ (pronounced “Ver-mesh”) translation in the Penguin Classic edition (2004); it includes most of the important texts, but some of the minor fragments aren’t included.

Hopefully one thing was clear throughout this introduction: the sectarian group at Qumran were extremely pious Jews. Their beliefs about how God would enter the world to renew and resurrect everyone of “the light” influenced their conduct within their own Community and their involvement with the surrounding cultures (Gentiles and non-sectarian Jews). Imbedded within this is their beliefs in and practices with purity rituals; the subject of my papers this last term.

Baptism Part 1: Ritual Immersion in “Common Judaism”…

My first time reading the Bible was spent in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. I didn’t start with the New Testament at all; I started with the Torah. Thumbing back through those books, I realize now it’s a miracle that I even stuck with this Christian thing. Don’t know Moses ever realized this, but what he put down isn’t that exciting of a read.

Whether reading the Torah is boring or not, I have found it to be absolutely essential in order to truly understand the New Testament Scriptures. Having gone through the research from this past term has really opened up a lot of the New Testament; I get a better understanding of how Jesus’ not-washing-His-hands-before-He-ate thing was really kind of shocking. Granted, at the time of Jesus there were additional rules on purification, but those rules found their roots in Leviticus 11-15 or Numbers 19. It wasn’t a matter of whether or not you were sinning, but rather a matter of whether or not you were clean.

It’s important here to clarify what I mean by “clean.” In our 21st century world, “clean” is closely tied with sanitation. At work we wash all the dishes and pie pans so that customers are less likely to consume sickness-causing bacteria. We “clean” all the utensils for this purpose. But in the mindset of Jews in Jesus’ time, “clean” had spiritual connotations; not only was the physical dirt washed away, but it was believed that the spiritual dirt was also wiped out.

This spiritual dirt, though, did not just reside inside the person; it was believed to be outside the person as well. If someone had a bodily discharge, their clothes were rendered impure as well as anything they touched (Lev. 15). One’s uncleanness was also believed to affect the surrounding people as well, which is why many of the Pharisees and the religious leaders of the New Testament were repulsed by the impure; they believed they were in danger of being contaminated as well.

Ritual purity, as one may easily see, was an on-going process. In fact, it was practically daily. In “Common Judaism,” the era in which both Jesus and the community at Qumran were around, ritual purity was practically everything. Sure, theologies regarding the resurrection and what one believed about God were very important, too. But in order to be a part of those discussions, you were required to watch out for your purity. If you were deemed impure, you were required to go through the ritual process in order to regain the ability to discuss theology (or really anything else) with other people. No, it isn’t a commandment necessarily (it is at Qumran), but it makes common, practical sense. Religious leaders didn’t want to be impure or unclean, so if they were in close proximity with someone else who was unclean, then they’d avoid that person.

Just to get a sense of what I mean, I turn to Boaz Zissu and David Amit, archaeologists who specialize in the study of miqva’ot (immersion baths in ancient Judaism). They’ve outlined six different types of baths within two main categories: in-settlement ritual baths and other ritual baths. Under the in-settlement umbrella are domestic baths, public baths and public baths near synagogues. Domestic baths were located nearby houses and were probably used for purification after a bodily discharge, which includes a man’s seminal discharges and a woman’s menstruation cycle (as you might guess, this probably a frequently used bath). The public baths away from synagogues are located near villages and whatnot and were probably used by those who didn’t have their own at home and who couldn’t get to a synagogue bath. At Qumran, Zissu and Amit note, their public baths were intended for a “quick immersion of a large number of people,” which aligns with the Community’s annual renewal ceremony. But I’ll get there later.

The public baths located next to synagogues are interesting because there is nothing in the rabbinic traditions, as Zissu and Amit explain, requiring purity for entry into the synagogues. What has been suggested, though, was that these were used in order for various religious leaders to be purified before handling the sacred Scriptures – more of a precautionary measure. It didn’t matter whether or not they were impure; they just wanted to make sure they were pure before handling anything sacred. What these baths could have also been used for is, like the public baths away from the synagogues, anyone who didn’t have access to an immersion bath at home or in their home town.

Ritual baths located away from the settlements had three types as well; in agricultural locations (i.e. vineyards), along roadways intended for pilgrim-usage, and near graveyards. For the ones located in agricultural places, it’s possible these were utilized to ensure one’s wine or oil was prepared in purity so that nothing would be sold impure. Pilgrims in route to Jerusalem could have incidentally come into contact with something impure (i.e. a dead animal) and simply to ensure purity upon entry into Jerusalem, they were immersed in these baths. Grave sites were littered with the possibility of impurity. Coming into contact with the dead was the worst form of impurity to the common Jew. That’s why, when Jesus heals a demon-possessed man in the graveyard (Luke 8:26-33), you don’t see any religious leaders just walking around. They avoided the graveyards because they were too risky. These baths were there, though, to ensure one’s purity.

Studying through all the things that would make one impure often made me feel like taking a shower. The level of seriousness devoted to ritual purity in Common Judaism is already an intense level. But both early Christianity and the Qumran sectarian group had to find ways of differentiating themselves and their baptisms away from what was Common Judaism. Why? In order to be its own autonomous religion, it had to separate from the old, “mother religion” of Judaism, as Theissen notes. Qumran is a different direction because they were very much Jewish; they did not believe Jesus was the Messiah (assuming they even heard of Him) and therefore did not feel the need to be their own religion. However, they obviously felt the need to renew and revitalize the practices of the Torah as they should be rightly practiced. Both of these subjects, though, will be discussed in later posts.

What I advise for you, though, is – if you have the time – study up on the Torah, specifically the purity laws. Read Leviticus 11-15 and Numbers 19 several times slowly. They’re boring and very elaborate, but in order to truly get the sense of what both the Qumran baptism meant and the Christian baptism means, we need to know what the Torah requirements were. We need to know what Qumran and early Christianity were up against.