Professor Nick Newell
17 September 2012
Eliade on Baptism
Eliade believes in a sacred space that is connected to the creation of the cosmos from chaos. Through these beliefs Eliade would see baptism as a ritual symbolizing the original act of creation by God. Eliade claims that for religious man and non-religious man a sacred space exists. For religious man the sacred space is not homogenous and divided between the real existing space and the entire formless expanse surrounding it (Eliade 20). For non-religious man, places such as a man’s birthplace can be considered unique and sacred to them (Eliade 24). Religious man separates space between cosmos and chaos. The cosmos is the inhabited world and the chaos is the unknown space outside the world (Eliade 29). Eliade then describes the axis mundi as a vertical feature seen as the center of the world. This center is labeled as a pole, pillar or tree that links the heaven, the earth, and the underworld (Eliade 36). The imago mundi is defined as the cosmos on the ground divided into four regions with the axis mundi as the central point (Eliade 45). The religious man wants to be in a place closest to the gods and can do this by physically living in a location near the axis mundi or by experiencing the cosmos as it was first created.
In the book of Matthew and Romans the use of baptism in the Christian world is explained. Matthew 3 tells the story of how baptism started with Jesus going to the Jordan to be baptized by John the Baptist. The moment Jesus was baptized the heavens opened up and he saw a dove as the spirit of god (Bible, Matthew 3:16). He also heard a voice from heaven saying, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased” (Bible, Matthew 3:17). Eliade would refer to the Jordan River in Jerusalem as a sacred space for the Christian community. The heavens opening at this spot...