Sacraments of Initiation
Part 2 History of Initiation

Chapter i22
Initiation during the Patristic Period [400-799]  

Preliminary Questions


Johnson Chapter 4

To Think About

Preliminary Questions

Make a list of the symbols used in the rites of Christian Initiation. List as many symbolic actions and metaphors as you can. Put them in order as they occur in the rites of initiation.

What are the theological conclusions which follow from the initiation symbols?

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Maxwell Johnson. The Rites of Christian Initiation:  Their Evolution and Interpretation  (Revised and Expanded edition).  Chapter 2: Christian Initiation in the Pre-Nicene East; Chapter 3: Christian Initiation in the Pre-Nicene West.

Robert M. Grant, "Development of the Christian Catechumenate," Made, Not Born pp 32-49.

R. Cabie. "The Organization of the Ritual of Initiation Until the Spread of Infant Baptism (Mid-second to Sixth Century)," pp 17-63 in A. G. Martimort (editor). The Sacraments. Volume III of The Church at Prayer. Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, new edition 1987. ISBN 0-8146-1365-9. [Updates of the lecture notes from my master's level courses at the Institut Catholique.]

Shape of Baptism pp 35-78.

Raymond Burnish. The Meaning of Baptism: A Comparison of the Teaching and Practice of the Fourth Century with the Present Day. Alcuin Club Collections (London: SPCK) 67, 1985.

Justin, Hermas, Irenaeus, Origen, Augustine, etc.

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Johnson Chapter 2

Maxwell E. Johnson. Chapter 2:  Christian Initiation in the Pre-Nicene Period

Part I: Christian Initiation in the Pre-Nicene East
East and West Syria
The Didache
The Witness of Justin Martyr
Didascalia Apostolorum  
Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles

Clement of Alexandria
Origen of Alexandria

Part II: The Pre-Nicene West

North Africa
Cyprian of Carthage

The (so called) Apostolic Tradition, Ascribed to Hippolytus of Rome

In this context it might be helpful to look ahead to examine the history of the Sacrament of Confirmation:  Chapter i37 Confirmation and Chapter i44 Confirmation Catholics Baptized in Infancy.

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To Think About

Copyright: Tom Richstatter, Franciscan Province of St. John the Baptist, Cincinnati Ohio, Order of Friars Minor. All Rights Reserved.  This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.  Every effort has been, and is being made, to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own.  Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it.  This site was updated on 06/02/15 .  Your comments on this site are welcome at