Rite on the Edge (a book review)

I’ve pinched the title of the post from the book I’m talking about: Sarah Lawrence’s A Rite on the Edge (London, SCM Press 2019). I don’t think she could have come up with a better title for a book that looks at the diverging languages of baptism and christening, and the ideas and practices that go with them.

Baptism or christening statistics are a bit hard to be precise about. According to the Church of England’s statistics, there were 94,000 baptisms in 2018. However, only 59% (55,000) of these, were of infants younger than one year old. This makes 8.4% of live births (according to the ONS) who end up getting christened in the Church of England.

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In the second century church

The third and final vignette in this little series of glimpses at public reading in the past comes from around the year 150AD. (The previous two glimpses were here, and here.)

In the pages of the New Testament (and some other early Christian literature) we get various instructions about what Christians should do when they meet for worship, and various glimpses of special gatherings. However, we don’t get a full description of an ordinary Christian worship assembly. For such a description we have to wait till the middle of the second century, for a writer called Justin, a Greek-speaking immigrant to Rome from the Palestinian Samaritan city now known as Nablus. Justin was a philosopher who appears to have made his living as a teacher, both before and after he became a Christian.

Justin Martyr (public domain: Wikimedia Commons)
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