Mueller, Joseph G. “Post-Baptismal Chrismation in Second-Century Syria: A Reconsideration of the Evidence.” Journal of Theological Studies, NS, Vol. 57, Pt. 1, April 2006, pp. 76-93.
This article is Joseph Mueller’s response to two articles by Alastair Logan, published in 1997 and 1998, suggesting that post-baptismal chrismation was common in the second century in Syria and Asia Minor, but then fell into disuse until the fourth century. Mueller reports that Logan’s argument is based on Ignatius’ Letter to the Ephesians 17:, a blessing in the Coptic Didache 10, and Apostolic Constitutions 7:27 (Mueller 2006, 76). Mueller considers Logan’s argument anadequate.
Mueller considers Logan’s arguments to be inspired by the work, published in 1951, revised 1967, of G.W.H. Lampe and J.-M. Sevrin (Mueller 2006, 77). They found anointing as a Gnostic practice, “a way to seal believers” (Mueller 2006, 78). Lampe did not find such an anointing evident in orthodox Christian writings, so presumed it was of a Jewish or Gnostic origina and was borrowed by Christians. Logan suggested that the Gnostic accounts of anointing were probably derived from Christian teachings.
Logan’s analysis of chrismation in Ignatius 17:1 finds a focus on immortality. He sees it as an anointing which would normally take place sometime after baptism “to symbolize the gifts of saving knowledge, of protection from hostile archons, and of the Holy Spirit (Mueller 2006, 79-80). Mueller questions Logan’s premise, as Ignatius does not speak of μύρον or link Christ’s life and humanity to any liturgical rite but baptism, counter to Logan’s view. Ignatius ties the anointing of Christ to his death, not to his baptism. Mueller concludes that Ignatius was not speaking of a chrismation in the way Logan takes him to be speaking (Mueller 2006, 81).
Logan further finds evidence for a chrismation practice in the Coptic fragment of the Didache, in the prayer recorded there at the end of 10:7. Mueller observes that Logan’s argument depends on that prayer being present in the early second century, an idea which presently cannot be proven or rejected. The argument also requires the prayer to refer to μύρον, which it does not. Finally, the μύρον must be used after baptism, which is not clear from the text. Though Logan makes arguments for all these positions, Mueller finds them inadequate (Mueller 2006, 82).
Logan further considers Apostolic Constitutions 7:27 for support of his position. The text strikes Logan as “a conscious allusion” to Ignatius’ Ephesians 17:1 (Mueller 2006, 85). Mueller notes that the Apostolic Constitutions make reference to a post baptismal anointing. He also observes that there is evidence of editors borrowing from and changing the text of the Didache. This suggests that the account of Christmation may or may not actually reflect early practice (Mueller 2006, 86). The references to μύρον in Apostolic Constitutions typically speak of a good odor of understanding, faith, revelation of Christ, and the like, rather than a literal physical anointing (Mueller 2006, 87).
Mueller comments specifically on Apostolic Constitutions 7:22:2, finding that the context speaks of the anointing as a seal of the baptismal commitment. The language of a seal for a contract, similar to Apostolic Constitutions 7:2:2 is used in numerous other authors (Mueller 2006, 88). What is significant to Mueller is that the references to anointing as a seal uniformly refer to an anointing before baptism, not afterward (Mueller 2006, 89-90). Mueller considers Logan’s insistence on finding varied explanations for innovation to be weak, as there does not appear to be actual innovation in practice.