What does early Christian imagery reveal about the theological meaning of baptism? Robin Jensen, Luce Chancellor’s Professor of the History of Christian Art and Worship, addresses this theme in her latest book, Baptismal Imagery in Early Christianity: Ritual, Visual and Theological Dimensions (Baker Academic, 2012). Jensen illumines the theological meaning of baptism by examining the multiple dimensions of the early Christian baptismal rite.
Jensen explores five principal motifs for understanding baptism—as cleansing from sin, sickness, and Satan; as incorporation into the community; as sanctifying and illuminative; as death and regeneration; and as the beginning of the New Creation—demonstrating how visual images, poetic language, architectural space, and symbolic actions signify and convey the theological meaning of this ritual practice.
In her richly illustrated volume, with many of the images photographed by the author, Jensen “has taken the vast and varied array of treasures comprising early Christian baptism and organized them into a theologically enlightening exhibit, leading the reader through a series of ‘rooms’ through which one may marvel at the rich and varied elements comprising the sacramental whole,” wrote Bruce T. Morrill, S.J., professor of theological studies at Vanderbilt. ~Fay