(BEING CONTINUED FROM 3/07/14)
Apparently, the righteous are able to choose certain damned souls, who are then released from eternal punishment and receive baptism (literal or figurative) that they might be saved with their counterparts. Buchholz concludes that this scene “teaches a form of universal salvation,that is, if any who are saved request pardon for any wicked, . . . the latter will be released from punishment.”106
These same lines are paraphrased in the Sibylline Oracles, and the doctrine therein is the same, whereby some of the damned souls are given salvation at the hands of God through intervention by righteous people. Interestingly, the later Ethiopic ranslation of the Apocalypse of Peter changes the wording of these lines so that no second chance could be interpreted from the text. This was likely done because “someone had theological objections to it.” 107 Further, the Sibylline Oracles, when paraphrasing this scene from the Apocalypse of Peter,contains a small interjectory note written by a later author declaring that the doctrine taught concerning damned souls was “plainly false: for the fire will never cease to torment the damned. I indeed could pray that it might be so, who am branded with the deepest scars of transgressions which stand in need of utmost mercy. But let Origen be ashamed of his lying words, who saith that there is a term set to the torments.” 108 The idea that righteous people could intervene on behalf of the condemned and that their punishment would see an end was apparently held by the authors of these two texts and by Origen. According to such beliefs, which are related to other teachings of the era about affecting the salvation of the dead, baptism on their behalf certainly seems plausible. Another important area of research in relation to the doctrine of salvation for the dead is Christ’s three-day descent into Sheol or Hades. Early Christians believed that after Christ died on the cross, he descended into hell to evangelize the dead. To those who accepted him, he placed his “name upon their head(s)” and made them
“free.” 109 This rite was called Chrismation, which would almost always be linked with baptism in later church practice.110 After preaching to the unevangelized dead, Christ returned to the earth for his Forty-Day ministry, in which he was continually “speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).
A common form of symbolism to express Christ’s descent is breaking the gates of hell or unlocking them with his key,111 as discussed in the “Harrowing of Hell,” the first article in this series.112
Christ’s mention of his descensus to Sheol to preach the gospel and free the captives there is certainly linked with the idea that the dead therefore need baptism.113 If they need the gospel preached to them, why not the saving rite of baptism?
The Epistula Apostolorum, a composition dating roughly to ad 140–150, describes the purpose for Christ’s descent. In the text, the Savior speaks of the resurrection and the ultimate redemption and judgment of the souls on earth, in which all men will be judged “in regard of that that they have done, whether it be good or evil.” He then continues with this important statement:
For to that end went I down unto the place of Lazarus, and preached unto the righteous and the prophets, that they might come out of the rest which is below and come up into that which is above; and I poured out upon them with my right hand the water (baptism, Eth.) of life and forgiveness and salvation from all evil, as I have done unto you and unto them that believe on
The Savior indicates that his descent and preaching to the righteous dead and the former prophets are tied to the resurrection. Further, the righteous dead,the former prophets, and those who are unevangelized,receive the “water of life,” or baptism—the very thing that brings “salvation from all evil.” Apparently,this was a central reason for his descent into the underworld—to provide baptism for the righteous souls there that they might be judged correctly and “come up into that which is above.”
The gnostic writing the Apocryphon of John (which is a conversation between the risen Lord and the apostle John written around ad 150) 115 discusses further the purpose of Christ’s descent. Within the text the divine Forethought 116 reveals to John:
I entered the midst of darkness and the bowels of the underworld,117 turning to my task. The foundations of chaos shook as though to fall upon those who dwell in chaos and destroy them. . . . I hurried back to the root of my light so they might not be destroyed before their time. . . . I brightened my face with light from the consummation of their realm and entered the midst of their prison, which is the prison of the body. I said, Let whoever hears arise from deep sleep.118
The text concludes with Christ meeting a certain person in the depths, someone who is repentant and ready to be released. Christ then notes, “I raised and sealed the person in luminous water with Five Seals that death might not prevail over the person from that moment on.” 119 In a number of separate Sethian writings (the gnostic Christian community or classification to which the Apocryphon of John is attributed), the Five Seals referred to are thought to be the “final act of deliverance” or “a baptismal
rite.” 120 Thus the final saving ordinance that instills life and awakens those who are dead from their “deep sleep” is the rite of baptism.
The theme of the Five Seals is discussed further in a number of other texts. The Trimorphic Protennoia (NHC XIII) uses the symbolism in a way that confirms the interpretation of the Five Seals as some form of baptismal rite or liturgy.121 Composed sometime in the early to middle second century ad—and possibly even included “in a codex that originally contained the long version of the Apocryphon of John” and On the Origin of the World 122—it recounts the three descents of the gnostic savior
called Protennoia (interpreted to be Christ by the gnostic Christians using the work). During one of the descents, Protennoia describes cleansing a person and providing him with certain salvific initiations.
The text recounts:
[I gave to him] from the Water [of Life, which strips] him of the Chaos [that is in the] uttermost [darkness] that exists [inside] the entire [abyss], that is, the thought of [the corporeal] and the psychic. All these I put on. And I stripped him of it and I put upon him a shining Light, that is, the knowledge of the Thought of the Fatherhood. And I delivered him to those who give robes—Yammon, Elasso, Amenai—and they [covered] him with a robe from the robes of the Light; and I delivered him to the Baptists and they baptized him—Micheus, Michar, Mn[e]s[i]nous—and they immersed him in the spring of the [Water] of Life. . . .
And I delivered him to those who glorify—Ariom, Elien, Phariel—and they glorified him with the glory of the Fatherhood. And those who snatch away snatched away—Kamaliel [ ]anen, Samblo, the servants of <the> great holy Luminaries—and they took him into the light—[place] of his Fatherhood. And [he received]the Five Seals from [the Light] of the Mother,
Protennoia, and it was [granted] him [to] partake of [the mystery] of knowledge, and [he became a Light] in Light.123
In the text, the Five Seals are taken in conjunction with other ceremonial practices that together provide the culminating salvation for the recipient.
Salvation is hence described through “stripping,investing in a garment of light, robing, spring baptism,enthroning, glorifying and rapture, followed by reception of the five seals from the Light of the Mother so that (the recipient) partakes of the mystery of knowledge and becomes a light in light.” 124
Baptism and the Five Seals intertwine with other saving rituals to provide salvation for those who are recipients; one is incomplete without the other. The ordinances mentioned in the text are reminiscent of temple themes encountered in apocalyptic Jewish texts centered on themes of ascent and ethereal ritual, where the recipient of such blessings is normally taken to heaven.125
While introducing the Trimorphic Protennoia,the translator/commentator declares that “the baptismal rite of the Five Seals is a mystery of celestial ascent which strips off the psychic and somatic garments of ignorance, transforming and purifying Protennoia’s members and clothing them with radiant light.” 126 Further, “the author’s [of the gnostic texts in question] reference to the recipients of this rite in the first-person plural and as ‘brethren’ suggests a [Sethian] community with a well-established tradition of water baptism which has been spiritualized into a mystery of ascent.” 127
These Sethian gnostics appear to elicit an elaborate liturgy and doctrine by viewing baptism and celestial ascent as two sides of the same coin.
Indeed, their writings indicate a near obsession with receiving the saving gnosis and ultimately removing themselves from this world through liturgical rites.
In these texts, then, the celestial ascent appears inseparable from baptism and the Five Seals.128 Each provides a connecting link and an escape from the shackles of mortality, allowing the recipient to be reborn. Interestingly, they extend this doctrine to cover the dead as well, as already noted in the Apocryphon of John. Thus, the dead who receive the gnostic salvation will be baptized and receive the accompanying rites and all things surrounding the Five Seals.
In the Apocryphon of John, immediately prior to the scene that speaks of the Five Seals and saving the dead, John poses a question that elicits a curious response from the risen Lord. John asks, “Lord,how can the soul become younger and return into its mother’s womb, or into the human?” 129 The commentator notes, “Returning to the mother’s womb is also a theme encountered in John 3:4,” in which a similar inquiry is made by Nicodemus, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” In responding to the query of Nicodemus,Christ teaches him, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). In his response to John in the gnostic text, the Savior recounts, “You are truly blessed, for you have understood. This soul will be made to follow another soul in whom the spirit of life dwells, and she is saved through that one.” 130
Baptistery of the Orthodox, Ravenna, Italy. Scala / Art Resource, NY.
The Lord’s phrasing appears to suggest vicarious or proxy salvation in which the living provide those who are “dead” in some sense with access to saving grace. The soul, when being reborn, must follow one who is already living, in whom “life” dwells. To save those souls who need the opportunity to be reborn,the act must become operative through a living agent. What could the living do to assist the dead to gain salvation—taking into account the close parallel between the question asked by Nicodemus and
the question posed in the gnostic text? Given the Lord’s answer to Nicodemus (to be born of water and of the spirit), it seems the answer would be baptism for the dead.
Another gnostic text, the Pistis Sophia,131 a discursive writing purporting to contain the instructions of the risen Lord to his apostles, hints at vicarious baptism for those who die without the ordinance. In one particularly notable scene, Maria (Mary) poses the question to Jesus:
My Lord, if a good man has fulfilled all the mysteries, and he has a relative, in a word, he has a man and that man is an impious one who has committed all the sins which are worthy of the outer darkness; and he has not repented; or he has completed his number of cycles in the changes of the body, and that man has done nothing profitable and has come forth from the body; and we have known of him certainly that he has sinned and is worthy of the outer darkness; what should we do to him so that we save him from the punishments of the dragon of the outer darkness, so that he is returned to a righteous body which will find
the mysteries of the Kingdom of the Light, and become good and go to the height, and inherit the Kingdom
of the Light? 132
Maria is wondering about the status of condemned souls, or those who have sinned and also lacked the “mysteries”
that are given to the elect. The condemned souls are deceased, for to reach the Kingdom of Light they must be “returned to a righteous body.” The “mysteries” to which Maria refers are of great importance in understanding the Lord’s response. Upon hearing the question, Christ responds:
If you want to return them from the punishments of the outer darkness and all the judgments,and return them to a righteous body which will find the mysteries of the light, and go to the height and inherit the Kingdom of Light—perform the one mystery of the Ineffable which forgives sins at all times. And when you have finished performing the mystery, say: “The soul of such and such a man on whom I think in my heart, when it comes to the place of the punishments of the chambers of the outer darkness;or when it is in the rest of the punishments of the chambers of the outer darkness and the rest of the punishments of the dragon: may it be returned from them all. And when it finishes its number of cycles in the changes, may it be taken to the presence of the Virgin of Light; and may the Virgin of the Light seal it with the seal of the Ineffable, and cast it in that very month into a righteous body which will find the mysteries of the light in it, and become good, and go to the height and inherit the Kingdom of the Light. And furthermore, when it has completed the cycles of the changes, may that soul be taken to the presence of the seven virgins of the light which are in charge of (lit. over) the baptism.
And may they place it (the baptism) upon that soul, and seal it with the sign of the Kingdom of the Ineffable, and may they take it to the ranks of the light.” . . . Truly, I say to you: the soul for which you shall pray, if indeed it is in the dragon of the outer darkness, it will withdraw its tail out of its mouth, and release that soul.133
The gnostic Christ tells Maria that the soul of an unrepentant man may reach the Kingdom of Light and be released from the place of punishments if certain procedures are undertaken in his name, mainly the “mystery of the Ineffable which forgives sins at all times.” A person on earth is to perform this mystery as a proxy for the deceased relative or friend; the living proxy merely thinks of that person while performing the rite and it will serve to release the person from outer darkness. The significance of this passage is that a living soul undergoes a certain rite,the mystery of the Ineffable (perhaps baptism as this rite is connected with
forgiveness of sins), combined with prayer, which directly influences the salvation of a deceased soul; it is a proxy rite of the clearest nature.
The Shepherd of Hermas teaches that the dead will receive baptism and hints at proxy work in a manner similar to the Pistis Sophia. In the apocalyptic visions, Hermas sees the apostles preaching to the spirits in the underworld. The text states, “They had to rise through water. . . in order to be made alive. In no other way could they enter the reign of God,unless they put off the deadliness of their [first] life. So too, those who had fallen asleep received the seal and [entered the reign of God]. Before bearing the name of [the Son of] God . . . a person is dead. But upon receiving the seal, the person puts aside deadliness and takes on life. So the seal is the water. Into the water they go down dead and come up alive. The seal was proclaimed to them, and they
profited from it to enter into the reign of God.” 134
In her commentary on this specific verse, Professor Carolyn Osiek declares that “the association of passing through water with entering the kingdom of God (v. 2) and receiving the seal is unmistakably a reference to baptism; . . . the absolute necessity of baptism is implicit here [the dead included].” 135However the Shepherd of Hermas is not finished.
Having learned this, he then asks, “Why, sir . . . did the forty stones rise with them from the depth already having the seal?” He is answered thus, These are the apostles and teachers who proclaimed the name of the Son of God, who,having fallen asleep in power and faith of the Son of God, even proclaimed to those who had previously fallen asleep and gave them the seal of the proclamation. They descended with them into the water and came up again, except that these descended alive and came up alive.
Because of them, these others were enlivened and came to know the name of the Son of God.
. . . They [those being baptized] fell asleep in justice and great purity, except they did not have this seal.136
The dead are given baptism at the hands of the apostles and teachers. Yet for some reason, the dead who are baptized and receive life have some forty people rise with them who already have the seal, or baptism. The wording “descended alive and came up alive” appears to indicate that these are souls who are already baptized. Could this be a reference to proxy baptisms? Osiek concludes:
“These verses, without saying so, present a good argument in favor of baptism in the name of the dead, apparently already an act of piety in first century Corinth. . . . here with the pre-Christian dead, the problem is . . . they practiced virtue in their lives, but had not received baptism. Through the apostles and teachers, this problem is solved.” 137
The text is certainly vague enough to allow for the interpretation, and it seems interesting that the Shepherd of Hermas, a widely used text for early Christians, would contain such language. This is not conclusive evidence for vicarious baptisms, yet the texts reviewed indicate that some form of proxy work is possible and that it is related to the “rebirth” provided through baptism.
One thing is quite certain, however—nearly all the texts purporting to contain teachings of Christ concerning salvation for the dead emphasize that his teachings were closely guarded, reserved only for those whom the Lord deemed worthy to hear them.138 Indeed, of all the major themes presented
in the texts, this one is quite pervasive. Because of this discretion, much remains unknown regarding the circulation and general understanding of these doctrines. Likely, few people had access to the texts that claim to contain the “hidden” teachings of the resurrected Lord. Hugh Nibley pointed out that much of Christ’s recorded teachings on important doctrinal topics—though only a fraction of what he taught 139—remain shrouded in mystery, 140 particularly Christ’s teachings concerning salvation for the
dead.141 Given this point, we should be appreciative of what evidence still exists.
From the texts mentioned it seems clear that a belief among some early Christian communities was that the dead could be saved, perhaps through vicarious work, and that many of them would receive baptism. The ultimate question regards form: Were the baptisms to be performed vicariously by the living on behalf of the dead, as was done historically by the groups previously mentioned (and as hinted at in some texts)? Or do these texts purport that baptism is received by the dead only in the afterlife, with no proxy or living agent involved?
It appears, ultimately, that the Corinthians, or at least the reference to them in 1 Corinthians 15:29,inspired following generations of Christians to engage in vicarious ordinance work. In the remaining section we will set forth evidence showing that such a practice was performed in ancient Christianity and was more common than one might suppose.
(TO BE CONTINUED)
David L. Paulsen, and Brock M. Mason
David L. Paulsen is a professor of philosophy at BYU. Brock M. Mason is an undergraduate at BYU and is double majoring in philosophy and ancient Near Eastern studies. The authors gratefully thank Laura Rawlins, Shirley Ricks, Aaron Tress, George Scott, and James Siebach for their skillful editing and the College of Humanities and the Maxwell Institute for their generous funding. The authors would also like to thank Judson Burton who was largely responsible for the exegetical section of this paper. Thanks also to at least three unnamed reviewers for their careful critiques of earlier drafts of this paper. The paper is stronger for their inputs.
106. Buchholz, Your Eyes Will Be Opened, 348.
107. Buchholz, Your Eyes Will Be Opened, 348.
108. Montague R. James, The Apocryphal New Testament: Apocryphal Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Apocalypses (Oxford: Clarendon, 1924), 524.
109. Odes of Solomon 42:20; see further Paulsen, Cook, and Christensen,“Harrowing of Hell,” 62–65.
110. J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines (London: Continuum,2008), 207. Kelly remarks how the rites of Chrismation
became increasingly important and were used more and more in conjunction with baptism at the beginning of
the third century—although the rite itself existed much earlier.
In Chrismation, the initiate is anointed with sacred oil,known as chrism, while a priest speaks certain words and
performs the sign of the cross. The words repeated indicate that the initiate will have sealed upon him the gifts of the
Holy Spirit. It is often, though not always, performed with the rite of baptism. It is still practiced today in orthodox
churches, particularly of the East.
111. See Revelation 1:18; Christ has the “keys of hell and of death.”
112. Paulsen, Cook, and Christensen, “Harrowing of Hell,” 62–66.
113. Note Odes of Solomon 42:11, 14, 17–20, in which Christ descends to Sheol and creates a “congregation of living
(people) . . . and (I, Christ) placed My name upon their head.
Because they are free, and they are mine.” Though the odes are mainly hymns and poetic in nature, they purport to be
the revelations and teachings of the risen Lord to the odist,hence the conversational nature.
114. Taken from Epistle of the Apostles, in Montague R. James,trans., The Apocryphal New Testament: Being the Apocryphal
Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Apocalypses (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974), 494, parenthetical explanations provided
by the translator.
115. John D. Turner notes, “The Secret Book of John contains what purport to be secret teachings revealed by Christ in a postresurrection appearance to the apostle John the son of Zebedee.”
Turner, introduction to the text, in Nag Hammadi Scriptures,ed. Marvin Meyer (New York: HarperOne, 2007), 104.
116. The divine Forethought that descends into darkness in the extended ending of the Apocryphon of John is generally
understood to refer to Jesus. The corresponding footnote by Meyer in Nag Hammadi Scriptures, 131 n. 138, reads that the
“hymn of heavenly Forethought, the divine Mother,” depicts her “as Savior.” However, “in the present Christianized version
of the Secret Book of John readers may understand the Savior to be Jesus.”
117. Michael Waldstein and Frederik Wisse, eds., The Apocryphon of John: Synopsis of Nag Hammadi Codices II,1; III,1; and
IV,1 With BG 8502,2 (Leiden: Brill, 1995), 171. The translation appears thus: “I entered into the midst of darkness and
the inside of Hades. . . . And I entered into the midst of their prison which is the prison <of> the body. And I said, ‘He
who hears, let him get up from the deep sleep.” Note the translators rendering the Coptic word for “underworld” as
“Hades,” signifying this is indeed the resting place of the dead.
118. Selections from Apocryphon of John—Hymn of the Savior 30,11–31,25, in Meyer, Nag Hammadi Scriptures, 131–32.
Further, Meyer explains that the phrase to “arise from deep sleep” is in fact, “the call to awaken” that “addresses a prototypal
sleeper—any person who may awaken to knowledge and salvation.” In other words, Christ’s descent is a call to
those who are residing in the underworld to receive knowledge (gnosis) and ultimately salvation—posthumous salvation.
119. Meyer, Nag Hammadi Scriptures, 132: In some sense, the person,after receiving the Savior and the “Five Seals,” receives
new life and awakens from “deep sleep,” or receives salvation.
120. Turner, introduction to the text, in Meyer, Nag Hammadi Scriptures, 106. He notes, “Several Sethian treatises present
this final act of deliverance as a baptismal rite (the Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit, Three Forms of First Thought,
Melchizedek, the Revelation of Adam, Zostrianos, and perhaps Marsanes), usually called the Five Seals (Three Forms of
First Thought; the longer versions of the Secret Book of John; the Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit; and the untitled
text of the Bruce Codex).”
121. Alastair H. B. Logan, “The Mystery of the Five Seals: Gnostic Initiation Reconsidered,” Vigiliae Christianae 51/2 (1997):
188. This article investigates the Five Seals in numerous texts.
122. This is the contention of Yvonne Janssens in the translation/commentary of the text, contained in La Prôtennoia Trimorphe
(Québec: Les Presses de l’Université Laval, 1978), 2–5.
123. Charles W. Hedrick, ed., Trimorphic Protennoia 48,5–35,in Nag Hammadi Codices XI, XII, XIII (Leiden: Brill, 1990),
124. Logan, “Mystery of the Five Seals,” 188.
125. Martha Himmelfarb, Ascent to Heaven in Jewish and Christian Apocalypses (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993),
9–46; this chapter examines the mythic ascent of Enoch in Enochic literature, his investment with priestly garments,
and his ultimate transfiguration. The entire book focuses on such ascents, where ritualistic notions are accompanied by
transcendent visions into heaven.
126. Nag Hammadi Codices XI, XII, XIII, 379.
127. Nag Hammadi Codices XI, XII, XIII, 379.
128. Nag Hammadi Codices XI, XII, XIII, 379.
129. “The Secret Book of John—On Human Destiny,” 25,16–30,11,in Meyer, Nag Hammadi Scriptures, 129.
130. Some scholars have interpreted this verse as an indication that the souls of these men will have some form of reincarnation.
Although this is true in one sense, those who are “saved” through “another soul in whom life dwells” will no
longer receive this reincarnation. Trumbower, in his work Rescue for the Dead, 111–12, mentions that these verses
(and some preceding it) speak of a “reincarnation for some souls.” He cites as a source Michael A. Williams, who likewise
claims this verse is speaking of reincarnation. Michael A. Williams, Rethinking “Gnosticism”: An Argument for
Dismantling a Dubious Category (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), 197. Once John poses the question concerning
reentering the womb, a new group (of saved-souls) is meant. The Lord responds: “This soul will be made to follow
another soul in whom the spirit of life dwells, and she is saved through that one. Then she will not be thrust into flesh
again.” Thus, reincarnation may only apply to those spirits who are not saved, according to the gnostic text.
131. The text is roughly dated to ad 250–300 and penned by a gnostic Christian. It is also likely that each of the four books
that comprise the Pistis Sophia were composed by different people, given the textual variance found in the different
132. Carl Schmidt, ed., Violet Macdermot, trans., Pistis Sophia—Book III, 128 (Leiden: Brill, 1978), 322–23.
133. Schmidt and Macdermot, Pistis Sophia—Book III, 128, 323–24.
134. Similitude 9:16, 2–4, in Carolyn Osiek, Shepherd of Hermas:A Commentary (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1999), 232, brackets
135. Osiek, Shepherd of Hermas, 238.
136. Similitude 9:16, 5–7, in Osiek, Shepherd of Hermas, 232–33.
137. Osiek, Shepherd of Hermas, 238.
138. The Gospel of Thomas records in the prologue, “These are the hidden sayings that the living Jesus spoke and Judas
Thomas the Twin recorded.” Likewise, the Apocryphon of John expresses a similar sentiment in its opening lines: “the
teaching of the Savior, and [the revelation] of the mysteries [and the things] hidden in silence, things he taught his
disciple John.” Meyer, Nag Hammadi Scriptures, 139, 107.
These sayings were considered highly sacred, and as such were likely not widely circulated in the ancient world. The
teachings contained therein would have been known only by a select few.
139. See John 21:25: “There are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one,
I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” It is interesting that the
apostle John, in composing his own Gospel, notes the scant amount of information provided concerning the historical
140. Hugh Nibley, “Baptism for the Dead in Ancient Times,” in Mormonism and Early Christianity (Salt Lake City: Deseret
Book and FARMS, 1987), 103–5. Nibley points out the peculiar dearth of information provided by the apostles for some
of the most important of teachings, such as the “keys of the kingdom,” which, as he explains, likely refers to salvation for
141. Nibley, “Baptism for the Dead,” 103–9. On page 102, Nibley points to an important discussion allegedly between Clement
and Peter as initial evidence. Clement poses the question, “If the righteous ones whom he finds will participate and delight
in the kingdom of Christ, then those who have died beforehand have missed out on his kingdom (referring to those
who die before the advent of Christ).” In response, Peter assures him that such a scandal could not occur and that
salvation has been made available to them. He also reminds Clement: these are “hidden matters, Clement. It is not irksome
for me to tell you, as far as I am permitted to reveal.”
Clementine Recognitions 1.52, in F. Stanley Jones, An Ancient Jewish Christian Source on the History of Christianity:
Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions 1.27–71 (Atlanta: Scholars,1995), 84. It is not clear why these doctrines would require
such secrecy. A number of authors such as Nibley include this teaching as an esoteric doctrine of Christianity, one
that was principally carried on by word rather than through scripture and one that was preserved only for the most righteous
of Saints. It seems quite clear that traditions like this did exist in the early church, and the possibility that proxy baptism was included among this category is quite plausible.