Into the Name by Bob Wickizer

Into the Name
Rev. Bob Wickizer
Isaiah 6:1-8; Psalm 29; Romans 8:12-17; John 3:1-17
6-15-2003
Trinity Sunday

What a difference a single word can make. For several centuries the myth persisted that there are canals on the planet Mars. Where on earth would such an idea get started? Galileo of course. In his early observations of the planets using the brand new technology (for his day) of telescopes, he wrote in Italian of the water channels or "cannali." The Italian word was mistranslated by other Europeans into "cannals" instead of channels, and before too long you had writers conjuring up images of Mars as a kind of planetary Venice complete with gondoliers singing operatic "O solo mio" in Martian.

Of course mistranslations abound in the Bible. Some are famous and controversial while others are obscure or just quaint. 18th century translators converted the Hebrew name for God, Yahweh into "Jehovah." Medieval translators put horns on Moses' head and at Christmas every year Christians revisit the virgin birth stemming from the passage in Isaiah stating "Behold a young maiden ("almah" in Hebrew) shall conceive." This young maiden would be converted by much later Latin speaking translators into a virgin putting the Christian virgin birth on a par with similar claims from many other competing religions of its day.

For two thousand years, Greek speaking churches have used full immersion and the Trinitarian formula for baptism but with one important difference from the rest of Christendom. Greek scripture for the first baptisms has the celebrant clearly saying "I baptize you INTO the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit." Somehow when our Book of Common Prayer was translated from the Latin sources of various Roman Catholic masses, the word slipped from INTO to IN. The distinction is subtle yet powerful.

Baptism is THE sacred, defining moment when we are sealed by the Holy Spirit in baptism and marked as Christ's own forever. Bapti ...


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