Monday, February 09, 2009

Baptism on the Day of Pentecost, part 2

Jerusalem is a city on a hill. It's subject to numerous water shortages, and even when there's not a water shortage, the city has a limited water supply, the water usually coming from springs in the city.

I'm unable to find a definitive answer, but I'm going to guess that immersing someone under water would require a minimum of 40 gallons of water. Probably more, but let's say that for the sake of argument.

How long would each baptism take? Let's say that the apostles were very speedy, and they could baptize one individual per minute.

At the rate of one per minute, this is roughly 50 hours (all together) of baptizing on that one day, for a period of time that was a maximum of 9 hours. In other words, the 12 apostles would be baptizing just over 333 individuals per hour, and I'm giving the maximum number of hours that (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) can be allowed. I would suggest that the time was considerably shorter, but let's give them 9 hours for the sake of discussion.

First, for there to be immersions, we're requiring several large vats of water. Where would these be found? First century Jerusalem -- like other cities of that time -- would not have had bathtubs. Most would have routinely washed themselves by sponging off, and it's probable that there were some public baths in the city, but this is mere conjecture, as many stricter Jews found the Greek and Roman type of public baths to be offensive, since they found public nudity was a path to immorality. But let's guess that there might have been one or more such baths in the city. First century Jerusalem had a population of about 25,000 at the time of Christ.

In most Greco-Roman cities, the baths were a kind of public utility. They were owned and controlled by city authorities. It was not -- in most situations -- a private company's operation.

Next: The Temple authorities and baptisms

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