By Rev. Dr. Curian Kaniyamparambil
46. Is it true that Gregory Bar Ebroyo (alias Gregorius AbulFaraj Bar Ebroyo) who wrote the Canon (church laws) has stated in Chapter 2 that
Preference should be given to river,
People should be immersed
One should be baptized only after the study of faith
Deacon should receive the person when he comes out of water and
Ornaments should be removed before baptism?
This is not fully true. The canon was compiled by Gregory Bar Ebraya, but not written by him. He was the Maphriana (Catholicos) of Persia and the East under the Patriarch of Antioch, and a great scholar. [Modern scholars are so impressed by his genius that, they call him "The Encyclopedia of the 13th century"]. He collected the apostolic laws and other synodical regulations set up by the early church fathers at various synods and compiled it into a book called the Hoodoyo Canon.
The apostolic law given in chapter two, paragraph 4 is this: "The catechumens (those non-Christians studying faith with intention of receiving baptism) should take the oath before the priest and come to flowing water in the week of lent. First the infants should be baptized. If they are able to take oath, let them do so or otherwise, let their parents take oath for them. After this, the men and women should remove the ornaments and the women untie their hair before being baptized." (Hoodoyo Canon)
There is no mention of river, immersing, or reception by deacon. During the apostolic period all those who received baptism were non-Christians and therefore, the adults were taught the faith before baptism. Infants cannot be taught the faith. Removal of ornaments does not mean removal forever.
In the canon chap. 2, para. 3 says: - (passed in Lavadokya Synod) "The baptized should be anointed with heavenly oil (chrism). With out chrism baptism is incomplete. The baptism room should be on the southern side of sanctorum of the church building and there should be sufficient space between the wall and baptismal font."
From the above it is clear that:
1. A Priest should baptize
2. River or immersing is not essential .
3. Infants can be baptized .
4. Anointing of chrism is indispensable.
(Many of the Early Church Fathers from the 1st to 5th century have repeatedly written about this topic. Refer to the 'Faith of early church fathers.')
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