Original Research

Catechesis and baptism in the early Christian church

M. E. Nelson
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 30, No 4 | a1588 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v30i4.1588 | © 1996 M. E. Nelson | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 June 1996 | Published: 12 June 1996

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M. E. Nelson,, South Africa

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Abstract

This article which originated as a background study for what Augustine says about his own baptism, presents the facts, as far as they could be ascertained, on practices concerning catechesis and baptism in the early Christian church down to about 400 AD, without going into any doctrinal issues. Public confession of faith and baptism was preceded in the early church by lengthy preparations: catechetical, liturgical and ascetical. Baptism was also followed by mystagogical instruction. All of these are set out concisely, based on a number of primary sources, namely some writings by Augustine, Ambrose and Tertullian, the Traditio Apostolica by Hippolytus and the Didache. A number of secondary sources are also cited. Attention is drawn to the significance of the custom to baptise at Easter this explains why Easter was seen as the climax of the church year in the time of the early Christian church.

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