This classic work on baptism, originally published in 1962, is an exceptionally competent and exhaustive treatment of its subject. Baptism in the New Testament considers the Old Testament and Judaistic background to baptism, as well as giving a detailed study of relevant New Testament passages. Beasley-Murray begins his study with a consideration of the antecedents of Christian baptism, and proceeds through the biblical data in the Gospels, Acts, and the Epistles. In a fifth chapter he undertakes a synthesis of the baptismal doctrine of the New Testament as this relates to several major theological themes. As a postscript, this chapter deals with “Baptismal Reform and Inter-Church Relationships.” Regardless of your views on the issues and perspectives that orbit baptism, you’ll find something to challenge and expand your understanding of this important institution.
“I would venture the following assertion: Jesus came to the baptism of John, among the penitents of Israel responsive to John’s proclamation, to begin the messianic task in its fullness as He interpreted it from the writings of the Old Testament.” (Page 55)
“Christian baptism is ‘in the name of the Lord Jesus’, to the crucified and exalted Redeemer, who has sent to His Church the Spirit promised from the Father; and the Spirit He sends is his Agent, communicating the benefits of His redemption.” (Page 169)
“It is fairly certain that ‘regeneration’ (παλινγενεσία) and ‘renewal’ (ἀνακαίνωσις) represent the same reality” (Page 210)
“The total effect of vv. 5–6 is to represent baptism as the counterpart in the individual’s experience of the sending of the Spirit at Pentecost. Baptism is the occasion when the Spirit works creatively in the believer, as He made out of the community of the disciples the Body of Christ and will produce at the end a new creation for the everlasting Kingdom.” (Page 211)
“If proselyte baptism was a universally accepted institution in Judaism before the Christian era, how are we to explain the fact that there is not one clear testimony to it in pre-Christian writings and its complete absence of mention from the writings of Philo, Josephus and the Bible, particularly the New Testament?” (Page 19)
…the author of Baptism in the New Testament possesses a truly astonishing acquaintance with the literature of the subject, and interacts with a wide range of scholarly discussion, much of which is not easily accessible to the English-reading public.
—Westminster Theological Journal
[Baptism in the New Testament] is a work of first class scholarship…