Faculty of Social Sciences

Baptism and Death: A Study of Mark and Romans

  • Date: 12/8/2017 at 10:15 AM
  • Location: Sal 22-0031, Engelska parken, Thunbergsvägen 3C, Uppsala
  • Lecturer: O'Reilly, Bim
  • Website
  • Organizer: Teologiska institutionen
  • Contact person: O'Reilly, Bim
  • Disputation

The purpose of the thesis is to examine the presentation of, and the relationship between, baptism and death in Mark and Romans, and to compare the associations of baptism and death in the two texts. As a theoretical point of departure, an overarching holistic and inner-textual approach is adopted.

Does baptism in some way associate an initiate with the death and resurrection of Christ? From the fourth century until the present, this understanding has had a central place in defining the meaning of baptism. In the NT, baptism and death are associated in two ways. In Rom 6:3–4, Paul argues that being baptised into Christ entails being baptised into Christ’s death. In Mark 10:38–39, Jesus uses the notion of being baptised with a baptism as a metaphor for his suffering and death. Although these ways of associating baptism and death are different, scholars have offered varying explanations for the ideas expressed in Mark and Romans and for their possible relationship to each other. 

The purpose of the thesis is to examine the presentation of, and the relationship between, baptism and death in Mark and Romans, and to compare the associations of baptism and death in the two texts. As a theoretical point of departure, an overarching holistic and inner-textual approach is adopted. Additional approaches are used for the respective texts: a narrative approach for Mark and an argumentative approach for Romans. In each of the analyses of Mark and Romans, the macrostructures of the texts form a framework for interpreting key passages for understanding the relationship between baptism and death. The results of these analyses are then brought together in a comparative analysis, where similarities and differences between Mark and Romans are weighed.

The analysis shows that the ways of associating of baptism and death in Mark 10:38–39 and Rom 6:3–4 are different. Nonetheless, the associations are part of similar contexts, where baptism seems to have a function of helping to establish, or confirm, an identity based on, and modelled by, the crucified Christ, and that call for action in some way. A point of contact should therefore not be sought on the basis of the associations of baptism and death in Mark 10:38–39 and Rom 6:3–4, but in the broad ways the texts reflect on the significance of Christ’s death for those who want to follow Jesus or to be “in Christ”.