Some years ago I wrote a book on baptism
I was very happy with it. But there was one issue-the Greek word for baptism, BAPTIDZO. All my life I had been told that this word meant "to dip." Well, actually I was told it meant to immerse but by that they meant to dip. Well, that hung in my claw, as they say somewhere in the South. It annoyed me. If it were true, then my previous research would be brought into question.
History of Baptism
It was time to dig in again
About this time I came across four volumes written in the late 1800's on one word. You guessed it; it was the word BAPTIDZO. Dr. James W. Dale was the author of these books. I was determined to study them carefully; and I did.
I found that although these books are without equal in the history of the study of baptism. Yet, they are not well known, even by those that share Dr. Dale's thesis on baptism. To some degree, the reasons for this must be laid at the feet of Dr. Dale himself. Simply put, his volumes are difficult reading.
1) He was a most educated man quoting freely from Greek, Latin, Hebrew, German and French. Yet he did not always translate these quotations. This fact, understandably, deters many readers today. Of course, in his day the knowledge of these languages was more common to the educated classes.
2) Also, his style is confusing. Often he does not tell the reader where he is heading, expecting the reader to track with him and draw, what was for him, the obvious conclusions as he moved through the data and facts of usage.
3) His vocabulary was immense, drawing upon many languages and fields of study, and doing so in an era in which professional men were far better educated than they often are today.
4) The outline Dr. Dale follows changes as he advances through the volumes. Sometimes no outline is evident, leaving the reader confused.
5) Related to the previous point, there are not always useful tables of context in every volume or helpful indexes at the end of the volumes.
And 6) his exhaustiveness, a very real virtue, becomes a formidable obstacle for many readers pressed in time and looking for quick answers.
This book is a history of baptism. The purpose of this book is to rewrite, condense, simplify, organize and make available Dr. Dale's great contribution to the study of BAPTIDZO in a one-volume summary, trying as much as possible to avoid some of the problems listed above. Therefore, in this volume, you will not get the exhaustive and thorough body of Dr. Dale's research. That is both the weakness and strength of the current book. But, having completed this history of baptism, the reader is encouraged to consider purchasing the original five books, now published in four volumes, and experience the joy of the fullness of his contribution.
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