The Christian baptismal ceremony was at first quite simple; by the beginning of the third century it included complex anti-demonic rites. Henry Ansgar Kelly here describes the evolution of the rites of baptism from New Testament times to the present day and explores the impact of demonological theories on Christian liturgy.
Kelly begins by identifying the nature and origins of the evil spirits that are referred to in the New Testament, which proved to be major subjects of speculation and theological development by the Church Fathers. He then traces the history both of Christian demonology and of the initiation rituals, clearly illustrating their parallel evolution and their interaction. In his analysis, Kelly examines not only the direct expression of demonological theory in the original ceremonies but also the symbolic reinterpretation of theoretically untenable rituals into allegorical dramas.
An astute and ambitious work, 'The Devil at Baptism' covers all the anti-demonic rites of the catechumenate and baptismal services and compares developments in East and West since the emergence of Christianity. It will be essential reading for anyone interested in the development of Christian liturgy in particular and in the history of religion in general.
Endorsements & Reviews-
"Professor Kelly's clearly written and up-to-date book is the most thorough account ever written on a key element in the development of Christian liturgy, and it illuminates the history of theology as well."
Jeffrey Burton Russel, Department of Medieval Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
"Kelly uses the history of liturgy as a tool to explore the history of culture. He has written a very good book and has carried it off with economy and elegance."
Edward Peters, Department of History, University of Pennsylvania
Henry Ansgar Kelly received his A.B., A.M., and Ph.L. degrees from Saint Louis University and his Ph.D. from Harvard University. He is a former member of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and the Harvard Society of Fellows, and is now Professor of English and Medieval-Renaissance Studies at UCLA.