Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, July 20th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
Partner with StudyLight.org as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Search for…
Prev Entry
Immensity of God
Next Entry
Immer, Albert
Resource Toolbox
Additional Links

(Heb. Immer', אַמֵּר , talkative, or, according to Furst, high; Sept. Ε᾿μμἡρ ), the name of several priests, mostly near the time of the Exile.

1. The head of the sixteenth sacerdotal division; according to David's appointment (1 Chronicles 24:14). B.C. 1014.

2. The father of Pashur, which latter so grossly misused the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 20:1). B.C. ante 607. By many the name is regarded here as put patronymically for the preceding.

3. One whose descendants to the number of 1052 returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2, 37; Nehemiah 7:40). He is very possibly. the same with the father of Meshillemoth (Nehemiah 11:13) or Meshillemith (1 Chronicles 9:12), certain of whose descendants took a conspicuous part in the sacred duties at Jerusalem after the Exile; and probably the same with the one some of whose descendants divorced their Gentile wives at the instance of Ezra (Ezra 10:20). B.C. much ante 536. By some he is identified with the two preceding.

4. One who accompanied Zerubbabel from Babylon, but was unable to prove his Israelitish descent (Ezra 2:59; Nehemiah 7:61). B.C. 536. It does not clearly appear, however, that he claimed to belong to the priestly order, and it is possible that the name is only given as that of a place in the Babylonian dominions from which some of those named in the following verses came.

5. The father of Zadok, which latter repaired part of the walls of Jerusalem opposite his house (Nehemiah 3:29). B.C. ante 446. He was, perhaps, the same as No. 3.

Immersion, the act of plunging into water, especially the person of the candidate in Christian baptism, as performed by the Baptist (q.v.) denomination, and occasionally by others. There are two controversies that require to be noticed under this head.

I. Is this mode or act essential to the validity of the ordinance itself? The affirmative of this question is maintained by those denominationally styled "Baptists," and is denied by nearly all other classes of Christians. For the arguments on both sides, see the article (See BAPTISM).

II. Are the terms "immerse," "immersion," etc. preferable or more correct in a version of the Scriptures, than "baptize," "baptism," etc.? The affirmative of this question is taken by many, but not by all Baptists, and it is approved, to some extent at least, by certain scholars in most other denominations, while the negative is held by the vast majority of Bible readers. The change was actually made by Dr. Campbell in his work on the Gospels, and recently a systematic effort has been made on a large scale to give currency to the alteration by the translations put forth under the auspices of the American (Baptist) Bible Union. (See BIBLE SOCIETIES), 5. The arguments for this rendering are set forth in all their strength by Dr. Conant, in a note to his translation of Matthew 2:6, as follows (to each of which we subjoin the counter arguments):

"1. This word expressed a particular act, viz. immersion in a fluid or any yielding substance. See the Appendix to this volume, sections 1-3." The Appendix thus referred to is Dr. Conant's treatise On the Meaning and Use of Baptism, etc. The proofs there given, however, do not seem to sustain this precise point; the passages cited do indeed show that βαπτίζειν means to whelm or envelop with a liquid, but do not indicate any uniform method, such as dipping, plunging; nor do they necessarily imply motion on the part of the subject into the fluid, as " immersion" clearly does.

"2. The word had no other meaning; it expressed this act, either literally or in a metaphorical sense, through the whole period of its use in Greek literature. Append. sect. 3." This assertion is palpably refuted by the fact that Dr. Conant himself, in but a part of these very quotations here appealed to, has ventured to render βαπτίζειν by "immerse;" for he is very frequently constrained to translate it "immerge," "submerge," "dip," " plunge, "imbathe," "whelm," etc. These words, it is true, have the same general signification; but, supposing that they were in every case suitable renderings (which in many cases they are not), yet they do not establish the identical point in dispute, namely, the exclusive translation by "immerse," etc. as if "the word had no other meaning."

"3. Its grammatical construction with other words, and the circumstances connected with its use, accord entirely with this meaning, and exclude every other. Append. sect. 3:2." On the contrary, the prepositions and cases by which it is followed, being generally iv with the dative, indicate precisely the opposite conclusion; insomuch that in even the comparatively few instances where "immerse" can be given as a rendering at all, it is scarcely allowable except by the ambiguity "immersed in," which in English is used for "immersed into." In the Greek language, as every scholar knows, no such imprecision exists.

"4. In the age of Christ and his apostles, as in all periods of the language, it was in common use to express the most familiar acts and occurrences of everyday life; as, for example, immersing an axe in water, to harden it; wool in a dye, to color it; an animal in water, to drown it; a ship submerged in the waves; rocks immersed in the tide; and (metaphorically) immersed in cares, in sorrow, in ignorance, in poverty, in debt, in stupor and sleep, etc. Append. sect. 3:1." Rather these examples should be rendered, an axe tempered by cold water, wool tinged with dye, drowned in water, sunk by the waves, covered with the tide, overwhelmed with cares, etc. The familiarity of the word is another matter, belonging to the next argument.

"5. There was nothing sacred in the word itself, or in the act which it expressed. The idea of sacredness belonged solely to the relation in which the act was performed. Append. sect. 4:7." This fact is no good reason why, when it is manifestly employed in such sacred relations, it should not be rendered by a term appropriate to such a sacredness. This argument applies only to those passages in which the word occurs in a secular sense; about these there is no dispute.

"6. In none of these respects does the word baptize, as used by English writers, correspond with the original Greek word." This has already been met in substance above. The remainder of the arguments, with one exception, need not be reproduced, as they are of a doctrinal character, aimed at the odium theoloaicum, which is a method of reasoning inconclusive, if not unworthy in a philological question.

"11. In rendering the Greek word by immerse, I follow the example of the leading vernacular versions, made from the Greek, in the languages of Continental Europe, and also of the critical versions made for the use of the learned." Facts, however, do not support this claim with any uniformity. The modern versions, of course, render according to the theological leanings of their authors, and, were they unanimous, they could not be permitted to decide a question of this kind by authority. The best and oldest guides, the early Latins, freely transfer the term baptizo, giving it a regular termination like other native verbs; they rarely, if ever, render by "immergo," "immersio," etc., but usually give "tingo," or, at most, "mergo." See Dale, Classic Baptism (Philad. 1867), which thoroughly reviews the instances of the use of βαπτίζω. In a subsequent volume, Judaic Baptism (Philad. 1870), Dr. Dale meets the whole controversy in question, and proves conclusively the incorrectness of translating βαπτίζω by "immerse."

There are other positive arguments against the substitution of "immerse" as an equivalent to βαπτίζειν

1. The word is no more English than "baptize;" one is of Latin derivation, and the other Greek, while neither is of Saxon origin. Yet both are perfectly intelligible, and it is pretty certain that, but for the advantage which "immerse" gives to one party in polemics, it would never have been thought worth while to make the exchange.

2. " Immerse," as a compound word, does not correspond etymologically with the Greek. There is nothing answering to the "in" in βαπτίζω; it should have been ἐμβαπτίζω (which seldom occurs), or, rather, εἰσβαπτίζω (which is never used at all, obviously on account of the incongruity between the native force of the primitive, and the motion inherently implied in εἰς ).

3. The outrageous awkwardness of such phrases as "he will immerse you in holy spirit and fire" (sic Conant), rendered necessary by this change, is a sufficient critical objection to the proposed rendering, were there no other argument against it. A theory that breaks down in this shocking manner the moment it is applied deserves only a summary rejection.

4. These translators are consistent with themselves in rejecting the expression "John the Baptist," calling him instead John the Immerser. But they ought to go one step further, and themselves abjure the title of "Baptists," which they pre-eminently arrogate, and should name themselves appropriately "the Immersionists." It is highly creditable that the mass of that large denomination are not disposed to be drawn into this specious innovation.

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Immer'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tce/​i/immer.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
Ads FreeProfile