Vicarious Baptism for the Dead : 1 Corinthians 15:29
Studies in the Bible and Antiquity
Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship; Brigham Young University
In this paper I will review four recent attempts to understand 1 Corinthians 15:29 as something other than vicarious baptism and determine if the vicarious baptism interpretation has really been laid to rest.
I will begin by reviewing the unique approach of William O. Walker, who agrees that vicarious baptism is the most obvious reading of 1 Corinthians 15:29 but claims the entire passage is a non-Pauline interpolation. I will then examine the paper of Joel R. White, who assigns a symbolic meaning to the phrase "on behalf of the dead," thereby interpreting this passage as something other than vicarious baptism. I will briefly examine some of the assumptions that James Patrick accepts, particularly focusing on this notion that "the dead referred to in verse 15 are dead Christians. He thus concludes that vicarious baptism is not a viable interpretation. I will close with a detailed examination of Hull's work. [From the text]