Friday's Focus - Didache Articles
Bigg, C. "Notes on the Didache." Journal of Theological Studies 5:20, July 1904, 579-589.
Bigg questions the mode of baptism in the first few centuries of Christian practice. The question arises based on the verbs used for baptism. Tertullian (de Cov. Mil. 3) speaks clearly of dipping (Bigg 1904, 579). Cornelius of Rome objects to affusion (Eus. H.E., vi. 43, 17) but possibly because the baptism mentioned was a washing of the sick, not baptism received in faith (Bigg 1904, 580). Cyprin, however (Ep. 69), considered sprinkling and pouring as true baptism. Further, early frescoes indicates a baptism by pouring water over others who are standing in the water (Bigg 1904, 581). There are additional suggestions through the fourth century that baptism could be performed in places where there was not enough water for immersion. Bigg finds it finally in the mid fourth century that Cyril of Jerusalem suggests immersion only (Bigg 1904, 581). Basil and Gregory of Nyssa speak in more detail about the symbolism of being buried in the water, indicating immersion (Bigg 1904, 582). However, Gregory does indicate the water being poured over the baptizand.
The Didache (7:1) says that as a rule baptism is performed by three immersions (Bigg 1904, 583). However, Bigg does note the use of affusion if it is necessary.
Bigg considers that the Didache contains several layers of redaction, with ideas collected from various times (Bigg 1904, 584). The admission of affusion may well be from a more recent time than the practice of immersion (Bigg 1904, 585). Hermas and the Didascalia oth assume immersion. The Apostolic Constitutions has an account of proclaiming "woes" in a way similar to Hermas and the Didascalia. This is also present in the Didache. Bigg takes the pattern to indicate that the "woes" in the Didache weer from a later time period, thus that the later materials were brought into the Didache (Bigg 1904, 587).
Bigg's argument does not strike me as well developed or persuasive. While there is no doubt tht the text as we have it diverges from the wording of the Synoptic accounts, there is no conclusive proof that the text drew its teaching of affusion from later sources.