Theodore Vial
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The word “baptism” comes from the Greek word for washing. Baptism can be by immersion (in ritual bath or flowing water), affusion (pouring water over head), or aspersion (sprinkling). Baptism is a ceremony of initiation. It involves washing, usually with water. In the West it is most commonly associated with Christianity. Yet it is found widely. In some traditions it functions as a naming ceremony. It has taken on many connotations, including physical purification, immortal life, spiritual purification, atonement for past sins, unification with a community, unification with a deity, divine pardon, the dawning of a new era, resurrection, dying and rising, sanctification, and the womb. Baptism is often a prerequisite for other rituals. ⸙

Vocabulary for the Study of Religion Online

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