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The Priesthood of the Plebs: A Theology of Baptism
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The Priesthood of the Plebs: A Theology of Baptism


Wipf & Stock 2003

Runs on Windows, Mac and mobile.


In this seminal treatise, Peter J. Leithart argues that the coming of the New Creation in Jesus Christ has profound and revolutionary implications for social order—implications symbolized and effected in the ritual of baptism. In Christ and Christian baptism, the ancient distinctions between priest and non-priest, between patrician and plebian, are dissolved, giving rise to a new humanity in which there is no Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female. Yet, Leithart argues, beginning in the medieval period, the church has blunted the revolutionary force of baptism, reintroducing antique distinctions whose destruction was announced by the gospel. In this volume he calls the church to renew her commitment to the gospel that offers “priesthood to the plebs.”

With Logos Bible Software, The Priesthood of the Plebs is enhanced with cutting-edge research tools. Scripture citations appear on mouseover in your preferred English translation. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Powerful topical searches help you find exactly what you’re looking for. Tablet and mobile apps let you take the discussion with you. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Looking for more by Peter Leithart? Check out the Peter J. Leithart Collection.

Key Features

  • Offers an exegetical defense of the typological connections between Old Testament priestly ordination and Christian baptism
  • Provides a theology of baptism
  • Examines the sociological significance of baptismal induction to priesthood


  • The Beginning of the Gospel
  • Attendants in Yahweh’s House: Priesthood in the Old Testament
  • Baptism to Priesthood: Apostolic Conjugations of the Ordination Rite
  • Baptismal Ordination as Ritual Poesis
  • The Priesthood of the Plebs
  • O Foolish Galatians! Who Has Bewitched You?
  • Epilogue: Summary and Areas of Future Research

Praise for the Print Edition

In this book . . . neglected parts of the Old Testament are made to yield striking insights into the nature of the Christian community. The author reveals himself to be a true scribe of the kingdom, revealing a vision of the Church in relation to the world that is radical in the fundamental sense of the word: digging down into the roots of the Christian tradition, and bringing out of his treasure things new and old.

Andrew Louth, emeritus professor of patristic and Byzantine studies, University of Durham

This erudite book constitutes a bold and wide-ranging attempt to argue for a typological relationship between Old Testament ideas of priestly ordination and Christian conceptions of baptism. In the process the author raises a number of fascinating historical and theological questions, many of which have potentially intriguing implications for Christian understandings of community and church order. A book which should stimulate and challenge people working in a variety of theological disciplines, whether biblical studies, church history, or Christian doctrine.

—James Carleton Paget, senior lecturer of New Testament studies, University of Cambridge

Leithart argues that Christian baptism, rightly understood, is the inception point of a new kind of social order, one that has yet to find full expression in Christendom and in the wider world. Anyone interested in Christian sacraments, in ecclesiology narrowly conceived, or in social order, needs to study this work with care.

James B. Jordan, director, Biblical Horizons

Product Details

About Peter Leithart

Peter Leithart is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America, and senior fellow of theology and literature at New St. Andrews College, Moscow, Idaho. He studied at Hillsdale College, Westminster Theological Seminary, and the University of Cambridge, where he earned his PhD. He is also author of Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible: 1 & 2 Kings, The Baptized Body, Shining Glory: Theological Reflections on Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life, Deep Exegesis: The Mystery of Reading Scripture, The Promise of His Appearing: An Exposition of Second Peter, and A House For My Name: A Survey of the Old Testament.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition

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