Domestic Church: Water and the Mystery of Baptism

Domestic Church: Water and the Mystery of Baptism

JPI 946
3 Credits

The family in the Old Testament became a special sphere of holiness, inextricably tied to the covenant. Critically, the purity/holiness of the family was determined by a series of water rituals. In the Hebrew worldview, people were believed to have contracted impurity by way of different events, objects, or states in life which rendered a person clean or unclean. To remove impurity, ablutions or immersions were required. In certain cases, the penalty for continuing in impurity was death. Thus, water rituals were at the heart of the identity of Israel—negotiating between the four states of being and regulating the individual’s and community’s status before God, thus maintaining family purity.

Our study will consist of two themes. First, we will develop a hermeneutic which can adequately provide a fuller exegesis of the Scriptures. In urging the recovery of a symbolic reading of reality we will investigate the psychological underpinnings of symbolic archetypes. The second part will investigate the meaning and use of water in the Old Testament by examining critical events and practices.

Selected Texts


Joseph Atkinson portrait

Joseph C. Atkinson

Associate Professor of Sacred Scripture
S.T.L. and S.T.D. Program Advisor

Dr. Atkinson’s work has included foundational research in developing the biblical and theological foundation of the family. He is a primary authority on the concept of the Domestic Church, which explores the ecclesial structure and meaning of the family. He teaches on the biblical structure and meaning of marriage and the family, on the Jewish background of the family, and on the nature and role of covenant.

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