Bibliography #2:

   Sacraments of Christian Initiation


 - New Testament
 - Early Christianity
 - Medieval Christianity
 - The Reformation
 - Spirituality & Mysticism
 - Sacraments
 - 20th-Century Theology




#1: Surveys, Intros
#2: Christian Initiation
#3: History of Eucharist
#4: Theology of Eucharist
#5: Other Sacraments
#6: Art & Architecture


 compiled by William Harmless, S.J.

Creighton University 

    1. Christian Initiation: Surveys & Introductions

    2. Baptism in the New Testament

    3. History of Baptism: Patristic Texts

    4. History of Baptism: Studies

    5. The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA)

    6. Confirmation: History & Theology

    7. Infant Baptism: History & Theology

    8. Contemporary Reflections: Theology, Spiritualiy & Catechesis





Everett Ferguson, Baptism in the Early Church: History, Theology, and Liturgy in the First Five Centuries (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008).  This is an extraordinarily wide-ranging and exhaustive 900-page study of the rites and theology of Christian baptism.  Ferguson devotes full chapters to all the leading figures: Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Cyprian, Origen, Cyril of Jerusalem, Ephrem the Syrian, Theodore of Mopsuestia, John Chrysostom, Ambrose, Augustine.  No stone is left unturned.  There are dozens of briefer explorations of the lesser-known (but not necessarily less important): Serapion of Thmuis, Aphrahat, Zeno of Verona, Maximus of Turin, Quodvultdeus.  He explores a host of issues and controversies: the origins and growth of infant baptism, the debate on rebaptism, the delay of baptism, deathbed baptisms, the theology of original sin.  Finally, he treats at length the archeological data, of baptisteries and font.  This is the fruit of a lifetime of study. Not to be missed.


Maxwell E. Johnson, The Rites of Christian Initiation: Their Evolution and Interpretation (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press [A Pueblo Book], 1999).  A superb survey.  Johnson surveys the development of the rites and theology of Christian initiation from the New Testament to their current forms in the Roman Catholic, Episcopal, and Lutheran Churches.  He cites and analyzes key classic texts, critically assesses contemporary rites, and calls for an ecumenical baptismal spirituality.


Maxwell E. Johnson, ed., Living Water, Sealing Spirit: Readings on Christian Initiation (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press [A Pueblo Book], 1995).  A very valuable collection of important essays drawn mainly from the journal Worship.

Maxwell E. Johnson, “Christian Initiation,” in The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies, ed. Susan Ashbrook Harvey & David G. Hunter (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 693-710.

Aidan Kavanagh, The Shape of Baptism (1978; reprint: Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1992).  A classic.

Leonel L. Mitchell, Worship: Initiation and the Churches (Washington: Pastoral Press, 1991).

Kenan Osborne, The Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist (New York: Paulist Press, 1987).

Alexander Schmemann, Of Water and Spirit: A Liturgical Study of Baptism (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1974). Classic reflection on the Byzantine rite.

Mark Searle, Christening: The Making of Christians (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1980).

Mark Searle, ed., Alternative Futures for Worship, vol. 2: Baptism and Confirmation (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1987).

Frank C. Senn, "Everett Ferguson's Baptism in the Early Church: A Liturgical Appraisal," Journal of Early Christian Studies 20 (2012): 439-456. This whole issue of the Journal of Early Christian Studies is devoted to appraisal of Ferguson's landmark study; essential for appreciating the state of the discussion.




G. R. Beasley-Murray, Baptism in the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1973).

Raymond Brown, “We Confess One Baptism for the Remission of Sins,” Worship 40 (1966) 260-271.

Bruce Chilton, Jesus’ Baptism and Jesus’ Healing: His Personal Practice of Spirituality (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 1998).

Adela Yarbro Collins, “The Origin of Christian Baptism,” Studia Liturgica 19 (1989) 28-46; reprinted in Maxwell Johnson, Living Water, Sealing Spirit, 35-57.

Martin Connell, “Nisi Pedes, Except for the Feet,” Worship 70 (1996) 517-530.  An important study of the role of foot-washing in early Christian initiation.

Oscar Cullmann, Baptism in the New Testament, trans. J.K.S. Reid (London: SCM Press, 1950).  Quite dated, but a classic study by one of the leading exegetes of the century.

James D.G. Dunn, Baptism in the Holy Spirit: A Re-Examination of the New Testament Teaching on the Gift of the Holy Spirit in Relation to Pentecost (Westminster John Knox, 1997).

David Hellholm, Tor Vegge, Oyvind Norderval, and Christer Hellholm, eds., Ablution, Initiation, and Baptism: Late Antiquity, Early Judaism, and Early Christianity (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2011).

Carl R. Holladay, "Baptism in the New Testament and Its Cultural Milieu: A Response to Everett Ferguson, Baptism in the New Testament," Journal of Early Christian Studies 20 (2012): 343-370.

Gordon Lathrop, “Baptism in the New Testament and Its Cultural Setting,” pp. 17-38, in Worship and Culture in Dialogue, ed. S. Anita Stauffer (Geneva: Lutheran World Federation, 1994).

Kilian McDonnell & George T. Montague, Christian Initiation and Baptism in the Holy Spirit: Evidence from the First Eight Centuries (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press [A Michael Glazier Book], 1991).

John Meier, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Volume 2: Mentor, Message, and Miracles, Anchor Bible Reference Library (New York: Doubleday, 1994), 19-233.  Offers a superb study of the figure of John the Baptist and the NT narratives of Jesus' baptism.





Thomas Finn, ed., Early Christian Baptism and the Catechumenate, Message of the Fathers, vol. 5: West and East Syria and vol. 6: Italy, North Africa, Egypt (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1992).  A comprehensive anthology on the ancient catechumenate.  A gold-mine of material.  Included are the mystagogical catecheses of Cyril of Jerusalem, John Chrysostom, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Ambrose, Augustine; the eyewitness descriptions of Egeria; excerpts from church orders—the Didache, Didiscalia, and the Ordo of Constantinople; baptismal lyrics from Ephrem the Syrian.


E.C. Whitaker, ed., Documents of the Baptismal Liturgy, rev. ed., Maxwell E. Johnson (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2003).  This has long been recognized as the standard anthology of ancient texts on baptism.  The original edition, dating from the early 1970s, was always hard to find in the United States and has been out of print for quite a while.  Thankfully, it is again available.  Maxwell Johnson, the leading contemporary scholar on baptism, has corrected errors and expanded the original.


Lawrence J. Johnson, ed., Worship in the Early Church: An Anthology of Historical Sources, 4 vol. (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2009).  A massive comprehensive anthology of documents touching every aspect of early Christian worship. While this is not exclusively devoted to baptism as the two above are, it is more recent and more comprehensive in the range of texts it offers:

  • Vol. 1: Second Century / Third Century. Texts include: Ignatius of Antioch, Shepherd of Hermas, Odes of Solomon, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus of Lyons, apocryphal literature (Epistle of the Apostles, Acts of John; Acts of Paul, Acts of Peter), and Melito of Sardis; Tertullian, Cyprian of Carthage, Hippolytus, Novatian, Gregory Thaumaturgus, Didascalia, Acts of Thomas, and Origen.

  • Vol. 2: Fourth Century. Texts include: Optatus of Milevis, Zeno of Verona, Damasus, Ambrose of Milan, Hilary of Poitiers, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory
    of Nyssa, Councils & Synods, John Chrysostom, Aphraates, Ephrem the Syrian, Apostolic Constitutions, Epiphanius of Salamis, Anaphora of Addai and Mari, Eusebius of Caesarea, Cyril of Jerusalem, Egeria, the Canons of Hiyppolytus, Athanasius, and Didymus the Blind.

  • Vol. 3: Fifth Century. Texts include: Augustine of Hippo, Rufinus of Aquileia, Victor of Vita Innocent I, Peter Chrysologus, Leo I, Maximus of Turin, John Cassian, Prosper of Aquitaine, Faustus of Riez, Gennadius of Marseilles, ancient church statutes, Nicetas of Remesiana, Palladius, Socrates, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret of Cyrus, Narsai of Nisibis, Sozomen, Jerome, Cyril of Alexandria, and Mark the Deacon.

  • Vol. 4: Sixth Century: Texts include: Fulgence of Ruspe, Ennodius, Rule of the Master, Benedict of Nursia, Popes Vigilius, Pelagius and Gregory the Great; Cassiodorus, the Liber pontificalis, Avitus of Vienne, Caesarius of Arles, cyprian of Toulon, Gregory of Tours, Columbanus, Theodore Lector, Braulio of Saragossa, Martin of Braga, Finnian, Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, Evagrius Scholasticus, John Moschus, John of Scythopolis, and papyri.

R.J.S. Barrett-Lennard, ed., The Sacramentary of Sarapion of Thmuis: A Text for Students, Alcuin / GROW Liturgical Study 25 (Bramcote: Grove Books, 1993).

Paul Bradshaw, Maxwell E. Johnson, & L. Edward Phillips, eds., The Apostolic Tradition: A Commentary, Hermeneia Series (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2002).  A major challenge to the traditional claim that Hippolytus was the author.

F.L. Cross, ed., St. Cyril of Jerusalem’s Lectures on the Christian Sacraments (reprint of 1951 edition: Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1986).

Geoffrey J. Cuming, ed., Hippolytus: A Text for Students, Grove Liturgical Study 8 (Bramcote: Grove Books, 1976).

Brian e. Daley, ed., Gregory of Nazianzus, Early Church Fathers (New York: Routledge, 2006), 117-138 [Orations 38 and 39].

Thomas M. Finn, Quodvultdeus of Carthage: The Creedal Homilies: Conversion in Fifth-Century North Africa, Ancient Christian Writers 60 (New York: Newman Press / Paulist Press, 2004).

George E. Gingras, ed. Egeria: Diary of A Pilgrimage, Ancient Christian Writers 38 (New York: Newman Press, 1970).

W. Jardine Grisbrooke, ed., The Liturgical Portions of the Apostolic Constitutions: A Text for Students, Alcuin / GROW Liturgical Study 13-14, Grove Liturgical Study #61 (Bramcote: Grove Books, 1990).

Nonna Verna Harrison, ed. and trans., Saint Gregory of Nazianzus: Festal Orations (Yonkers, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2008) [for Gregory's Oration 40 "On Holy Baptism"].

Gordon P. Jeanes, The Day Has Come! Easter and Baptism in Zeno of Verona (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1993).

Aaron Milavec, The Didache: Text, Translation, Analysis, and Commentary (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2004).

David N. Power, Irenaeus of Lyons on Baptism and Eucharist: Selected Texts, Alcuin / GROW Liturgical Study 18, Grove Liturgical Study #65 (Bramcote: Grove Books, 1991).

Grant Sperry-White, The Testamentum Domini: A Text for Students, Alcuin / GROW Liturgical Study 19, Grove Liturgical Study #66 (Bramcote: Grove Books, 1991).

Edward Yarnold, ed., The Awe-Inspiring Rites of Initiation: the Origins of the RCIA, 2nd edition (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1994).





William Harmless, Augustine and the Catechumenate, 20th Anniversary edition (Collegeville: Liturgical Press [A Pueblo Book], 2014) NEW revised edition, forthcoming November 2014.  This study offers unique perspectives on Augustine, one of the most influential figures in Western Christianity, namely, his work as a North African pastor and a teacher of candidates for baptism. This reconstruction of Augustine's catechumenate provides fresh perspectives on the day-to-day life of the early Church and on the vibrancy and eloquence of Augustine the preacher.  In this new edition, both the text and the notes have been revised from top to bottom to better reflect the state of contemporary research on Augustine, on liturgical studies, and on the catechumenate, both ancient and modern.  This new edition incorporates new research on early Christian biblical interpretation, debates on the Trinity, the evolution of the liturgy, and much else.


Thomas M. Finn, From Death to Rebirth: Ritual and Conversion in Antiquity (New York: Paulist Press, 1997). This can be read as an update and revision of A.D. Nock’s classic study, Conversion: The Old and the New in Religion from Alexander the Great to Augustine of Hippo (1933).  Finn’s accent is on the way ritual shapes conversion.  He moves back and forth from ritual documents (Didache, Apostolic Tradition, Didascalia) to autobiographical stories of converts (Justin Martyr, Gregory Thaumaturgos, Augustine) to the fictional—though still instructive—portraits found in pseudonymous works (Clementine Recognitions, Acts of Judas Thomas).  In so doing, he allows the fragmentary nature of the historical record to be what it is, without homogenizing it or harmonizing it.


Edward Yarnold, Cyril of Jerusalem, Early Christian Fathers Series (New York: Routledge, 2000).  Cyril’s sermons to the newly baptized—the Mystagogic Catecheses—provide us the clearest picture we have of the Jerusalem liturgy, both baptism and eucharist.  They show it in all its “awe-inspiring” splendor.  Yarnold spent much of his career writing on Cyril and liturgy in the early Church.  Like others in this series, this has a lengthy introduction together with fresh translations of major works.


Andy Alexis-Baker, “Ad Quirinum Book Three and Cyprian’s Catechumenate,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 17 (2009): 357-380.

J. Patout Burns, "On Rebaptism: Social Organization in the Third Century Church," Journal of Early Christian Studies 1 (1993): 367-403.

Paul F. Bradshaw, ed., Essays in Early Eastern Initiation, Alcuin / GROW Liturgical Study 8, Grove Liturgical Study #56 (Bramcote: Grove Books, 1988).

Paul F. Bradshaw, “Christian Initiation: A Study in Diversity,” in The Search for the Origins of Christian Worship: Sources and Methods for the Study of Early Liturgy, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002).

Sebastian P. Brock, “Some Early Syriac Baptismal Commentaries,” Orientalia Christiana Periodica 46 (1980).

Sebastian P. Brock, “Studies in the Early History of the Syrian Orthodox Baptismal Liturgy,” Journal of Theological Studies 23 (1972) 16-64.

J. Patout Burns, “On Rebaptism: Social Organization in the Third Century,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 1 (1993) 367-403.

J. Patout Burns, "Baptism as Dying and Rising with Christ in the Teaching of Augustine," Journal of Early Christian Studies 20 (2012): 407-438.

Joseph Chalassery, The Holy Spirit and Christian Initiation in the East Syrian Tradition (Rome: Mar Thoma Yogam, 1995).

Peter Cramer, Baptism and Change in the Early Middle Ages, c.200-c.1150, Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought, vol. 20 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993).

Owen F. Cummings, “Cyril of Jerusalem as a Postliberal Theologian,” Worship 67 (1993) 155-163.

Juliette Day, The Baptismal Liturgy of Jerusalem: Fourth- and Fifth-Century Evidence from Palestine, Syria, and Egypt (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2007).

Juliette Day, Baptism in Early Byzantine Palestine, 325-451, Joint Liturgical Studies 43 (Cambridge: Grove Books, 1999).

Philippe De Roten, Baptême et mystagogie: Enquête sur l’initiation chrétienne selon s. Jean Chrysostome, Liturgiewissenschaftliche Quellen und Forschungen 91 (Münster: Germany: Aschendorff, 2005).

Alexis James Doval, Cyril of Jerusalem, Mystagogue: The Authorship of the Mystagogic Catecheses, Patristic Monograph Series 17 (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2001).

Alexis James Doval, “The Location and Structure of the Baptistery in the Mystagogic Catecheses of Cyril of Jerusalem,” Studia Patristica 25 (1993) 1-13.

Susanna Elm, "Inscriptions and Conversions: Gregory of Nazianzus on Baptism (Or. 38-40), in Conversion in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages: Seeing and Believing, eds. Kenneth Mills and Anthony Grafton (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2003), 1-35.

Everett Ferguson, ed., Conversion, Catechumenate, and Baptism in the Early Church, Studies in Early Christianity, vol. 11 (New York: Garland Publishing, 1993).

Everett Ferguson, "Exhortations to Baptism in the Cappadocians," Studia Patristica 32 (1997): 121-129.

Everett Ferguson, "Basil's Protreptic to Baptism," in Nova et Vetera: Patristic Studies in Honor of Thomas Patrick Halton, ed. John Petruccione (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1998), 70-83.

Thomas M. Finn, The Liturgy of Baptism in the Baptismal Instructions of St. John Chrysostom, Studies in Christian Antiquity 15 (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1967).

Thomas M. Finn, “It Happened One Saturday Night: Ritual and Conversion in Augustine’s North Africa,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 58 (1990): 589-616.

J.D.C. Fisher, Christian Initiation: Baptism in the Medieval West, Hillenbrand Books (reprint: Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications).

William Harmless, " '... receive today how you are to call upon God' (s. 58.1): The Lord's Prayer and Augustine's Mystagogy," in Seeing Through the Eyes of Faith: The Mystagogy of the Church Fathers, ed. Paul van Geest (Louvain: Peeters, 2014).

Clayton N. Jefford, ed., The Didache in Context: Essays on Its Text, History, and Transmission Supplement to the Novum Testamentum (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1995).

Robin M. Jensen, Living Water: Images, Symbols, and Settings of Early Christian Baptism, Vigiliae Christianae Supplements 105 (Leiden / Boston: Brill, 2010).

Robin M. Jensen, Baptismal Imagery in Early Christianity: Ritual, Visual and Theological Dimensions (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2012).

Robin M. Jensen, “‘With Pomp, Apparatus, Novelty, and Avarice”: Alternative Baptismal Practices in Roman Africa,” Studia Patristica 44 (2010): 77-83.

Robin M. Jensen, "Material and Documentary Evidence for the Practice of Early Christian Baptism," Journal of Early Christian Studies 20 (2012): 371-399.

Robin M. Jensen, “Ancient Baptismal Spaces: Form and Function,” Studia Liturgica 42 (2012): 108-129.

Maxwell E. Johnson, The Prayers of Sarapion of Thmuis: A Literary, Liturgical, and Theological Analysis, Orientalia Christiana Analecta 249 (Rome: 1993).

Maxwell E. Johnson, Liturgy in Early Christian Egypt, Alcuin / GROW Liturgical Study 33 (Cambridge: Grove Books, 1995).

Maxwell E. Johnson, “From Three Weeks to Forty Days: Baptismal Preparation and the Origins of Lent,” Studia Liturgica 20 (1990) 185-200, reprint in Living Water, Sealing Spirit, 118-136.

Maxwell E. Johnson, “The Postchrismational Structure of the Apostolic Tradition 21: The Witness of Ambrose of Milan, and a Tentative Hypothesis Regarding the Current Reform of Confirmation in the Roman Rite,” Worship 70 (1996) 16-35.

Maxwell E. Johnson, “The Baptismal Rite and Anaphora in the Prayers of Sarapion of Thmuis: An Assessment of a Recent ‘Judicious Reassessment’,” Worship 73 (1999) 140-168.

Maxwell E. Johnson, “Tertullian’s ‘Diem baptismo sollemniorem’ Revisited: A Tentative Hypothesis on Baptism at Pentecost,” in M. Johnson and L.E. Phillips, eds., Studia Liturgica Diversa: Essays in Honor of Paul F. Bradshaw (Portland, OR: Pastoral Press, 2004), 31-44.

Alan Kreider, “Catechumenate and Contra-Culture: The Social Process of Catechumenate in Third-Century Africa and Its Development,” St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 47 (2003):

Gordon W. Lathrop, “The Origins and Early Meanings of Christian Baptism: A Proposal,” Worship 68 (1994) 504-522.

Enrico Mazza, Mystagogy: A Theology of Liturgy in the Patristic Age (New York: Pueblo, 1989 / Collegeville: Liturgical Press).

Leonel L. Mitchell, “Ambrosian Baptismal Rites,” Studia Liturgica (1962): 241-253; reprinted in Worship: Initiation and the Churches (Washington: Pastoral Press, 1991) 75-89.

Kilian McDonnell, The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan: The Trinitarian and Cosmic Order of Salvation (Collegeville: Liturgical Press [A Michael Glazier Book], 1996).

Kilian McDonnell & George T. Montague, Christian Initiation and Baptism in the Holy Spirit: Evidence from the First Eight Centuries (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press [A Michael Glazier Book], 1991).

Bradley Mark Peper, "On the Mark: Augustine's Baptismal Analogy of the Nota Militaris," Augustinian Studies 38 (2007): 353-363.

Hugh Riley, Christian Initiation: A Study of the Interpretation of the Baptismal Liturgy in the Mystagogical Writings of Cyril of Jerusalem, John Chrysostom, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and Ambrose of Milan, Studies in Christian Antiquity 17 (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1974).

Huub van de Sandt & Davis Flusser, eds., The Didache: Its Jewish Sources and Its Place in Early Judaism and Christianity, Compendia Rerum Iudaicarum ad Novum Testamentum (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2002).

Craig A. Satterlee, Ambrose of Milan’s Method of Mystagogical Preaching (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2002).

Bryan D. Spinks, Early and Medieval Rituals and Theologies of Baptism: From the New Testament to the Council of Trent, Liturgy, Worship and Society (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2006).

Bryan D. Spinks, Reformation and Modern Rituals and Theologies of Baptism: From Luther to Contemporary Practices, Liturgy, Worship and Society (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2006).

Bryan D. Spinks, “Sarapion of Thmuis and Baptismal Practice in Early Christian Egypt: The Need for a Judicious Reassessment,” Worship 72 (1998) 255-270.

Bryan D. Spinks, “What is ‘New’ in the ‘History’ of Christian Baptismal Liturgy: The Early Centuries,” Studia Liturgica 42 (2012):16-32.

Anita Stauffer, On Baptismal Fonts, Ancient and Modern, Alcuin / GROW Liturgical Study 29-30 (Bramcote: Grove Books Limited, 1994).

Alistair Stewart-Sykes, "Catechumenate and Contra-Culture: The Social Process of Catechumenate in the Third-Century Africa and Its Development," St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 47 (2003): 289-306.

Joseph Trigg, "Origen's Understanding of Baptism," Studia Patristica 17 (1982): 959-965.

John Wilkinson, Egeria’s Travels, rev. ed. (reprint: Warminster, England: Aris and Philips, 1999).

Gabriele Winkler, “The Original Meaning of the Prebaptismal Anointing and Its Implications,” Worship 52 (1978) 24-45; reprinted in Maxwell Johnson, Living Water, Sealing Spirit, 58-81.

E.C. Whitaker, “The History of the Baptismal Formula,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 16 (1965) 1-12.

David F. Wright, "At What Ages Were People Baptized in the Early Centuries?" Studia Patristica 30 (1997): 389-394.





International Commission on English in the Liturgy, The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Study Edition (Washington, DC: National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1988).  This gives the full text of the RCIA as it applies the United States.


Aidan Kavanagh, The Shape of Baptism, Studies in the Reformed Rites of the Catholic Church 1 (1978; reprint: Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1992). The classic study of the RCIA, tracing its ancient roots and its modern revival.  One drawback: Kavanagh focuses almost entirely on 3rd-century sources (Hippolytus and Tertullian) and largely ignores equally important 4th-century perspectives (Cyril, Ambrose, John Chrysostom, Augustine).  No quibbling about the depth of his reflections on the RCIA itself.


E. Byron Anderson, “Apotaxis and Ethics: The Baptismal Renunciations and Christian Discipleship,” Studia Liturgica 42 (2012): 197-216.

Balthasar Fischer, “The Rite of Christian Intiation of Adults: Rediscovery andNew Beginnings,” Worship 64 (1990): 98-106.

Maxwell E. Johnson, Images of Baptism, Forum Essay 6 (Liturgy Training Publications, 2001).

Aidan Kavanagh, “Christian Initiation in Post-Conciliar Catholicism: A Brief Report,” Studia Liturgica 12 (1977) 107-115, reprinted in Maxwell Johnson, Living Water, Sealing Spirit,

Aidan Kavanagh, “The Norm of Baptism: The New rite of Christian Initiation of Adults,” Worship 48 (1974) 143-152.

Aidan Kavanagh, “Critical Issues in the Growth of the RCIA in North America.” Catechumenate:
A Journal of Christian Initiation
10 (1988): 10-21.

Aidan Kavanagh, “Unfinished and Unbegun Revisited: The Rite of Christian of Adults.” Worship
53 (1979): 327-340.

Michael H. Marchal, “The RCIA Is Not a Course: The Role of Discernment in the Catechumenal Process,” Catechumenate: A Journal of Christian Initiation 29.6 (November 2007).

Mary K. Milne, Sunday Dismissals for the RCIA (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1993).

Thomas H. Morris, The RCIA: Transforming the Church.  A Resource for Pastoral Implementation (New York: Paulist Press, 1997).

James F. Puglisi, "Rite(s) of Baptism in the Catholic Church: A Theological-Pastoral Commentary," in Baptism Today: Understanding, Practice, Ecumenical Implications, ed. Thomas F. Best (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2008), 29-54.

Veronica Rosier, “The Baptismal Catechumenate in the General Directory for Catechesis (1997),” Worship 73 (1999): 98-124.

Dominic E. Serra, “The Blessing of Baptismal Water at the Paschal Vigil: Ancient Texts and Modern Revisions,” Worship 64 (1990): 142-156.

Bryan D. Spinks, Reformation and Modern Rituals and Theologies of Baptism: From Luther to Contemporary Practices, Liturgy, Worship and Society (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2006).

Jeffrey A. Truscott & Maxwell E. Johnson, The Reform of Baptism and Confirmation in American Lutheranism, Drew Studies in Liturgy 11 (Scarecrow Press, 2003).

Victoria M. Turfano, ed., Celebrating the Rites of Adult Initiation: Pastoral Reflections, Font and Table Series (Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1992).

Julia Upton, Becoming a Catholic Christian: A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (Washington, DC: Pastoral Press, 1995).

Made Not Born: New Perspectives on Christian Initiation and the Catechumenate, ed. by the Murphy Center for Liturgical Research (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1976) A collection of classic essays.





Aidan Kavanagh, Confirmation: Origins and Reform (reprint: Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1992).  A brilliant and provocative challenge to the understanding of the roots of confirmation.  This volume also includes valuable reflections on contemporary practice.  Note the essays listed below which assess and critique Kavanagh’s arguments.


Gerard Austin, Anointing with the Spirit: The Rite of Confirmation (New York: Pueblo, 1985).

Aidan Kavanagh, “Confirmation: A Suggestion from Structure,” Worship 58 (1984) 386-395; reprinted in Maxwell Johnson, Living Water, Saving Spirit, 148-158.

Aidan Kavanagh, “Response,” Worship 65 (1991) 337-338; reprinted in Maxwell Johnson, Living Water, Saving Spirit, 256-258.

Frank C. Quinn, “Confirmation Reconsidered: Rite and Meaning,” Worship 59 (1985) 354-370; reprinted in Maxwell Johnson, Living Water, Saving Spirit, 219-237.

Alistair Stewart-Sykes, "Manumission and Baptism in Tertullian's Africa: A Search for the Origin of Confirmation," Studia Liturgica 31 (2001): 129-149.

Paul Turner, Confirmation: The Baby in Solomon’s Court, rev. ed. (Chicago: Liturgical Training Publications, 2006).

Paul Turner, Sources of Confirmation from the Fathers through the Reformation (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1993).

Paul Turner, “The Origins of Confirmation: An Analysis of Aidan Kavanagh’s Hypothesis,” Worship 65 (1991) 320-336; reprinted in Maxwell Johnson, Living Water, Saving Spirit, 238-256.

Paul Turner, “Forum: Confusion Over Confirmation,” Worship 71 (1997) 537-545.

Gabriele Winkler, “Confirmation or Chrismation?  A Study in Comparative Liturgy,” Worship 58 (1984) 2-17; reprinted in Maxwell Johnson, Living Water, Saving Spirit, 202-218.





Kurt Aland, Did the Early Church Baptize Infants?, trans. G.R. Beasley-Murray (London: SCM Press, 1963).  The con-side of a pitched debate with Joachim Jeremias.

Paul F.X. Covino, ed., Catechesis and Mystagogy: Infant Baptism (Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1996).

Paul F.X. Covino, “The Postconciliar Infant Baptism Debate in the American Catholic Church,” Worship 56 (1982) 240-260; reprinted in Maxwell Johnson, ed., Living Water, Sealing Spirit, 327-349.

Paul DeClerck, “Infant Baptism: Between the Family and the Church,” Lumen Vitae 42 (1988) 291-300.

Richard Guerette, “Ecclesiology and Infant Baptism,” Worship 46 (1972).

William Harmless, “Christ the Pediatrician: Augustine on the Diagnosis and Treatment of the Injured Vocation of the Child,” in The Vocation of the Child, ed. Patrick McKinley Brennan (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), 127-153.

John B. Hesch, “Orthopraxis in the Sacramental Initiation of Unbaptized Children of Catechetical Age: A Canonical Perspective,” Worship 67 (1993) 214-225.

Joachim Jeremias, Infant Baptism in the First Four Centuries, trans. David Cairns (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960).  The pro-side of a pitched debate with Kurt Aland (see above).

Joachim Jeremias, The Origins of Infant Baptism: A Further Study in Reply to Kurt Aland (Naperville, IL: A.R. Allenson, 1963).

Diane Karay, “Let the Children Lead the Way: A Case of Baptizing Children,” Worship 61 (1987) 336-348.

Nathan Mitchell, “The Once and Future Child: Towards a Theology of Childhood,” Living Light 12 (1972) 423-437.

Richard Redmond, “Infant Baptism: History and Pastoral Problems,” Theological Studies 30 (1969) 79-89.

Mark Searle, “The RCIA and Infant Baptism,” Worship 56 (1982) 327-332.

Mark Searle, “Infant Baptism Reconsidered,” Alternative Futures for Worship, Vol. 2: Baptism and Confirmation (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1987) 15-54; reprinted in Maxwell Johnson, Living Water, Sealing Spirit, 365-409.

Kurt Stasiak, Return to Grace: A Theology for Infant Baptism (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1996).

Victoria M. Turfano, ed., Readings in the Christian Initiation of Children (Chicago: Liturgy Training Publication, 1994).





William Seth Adams, “De-coding the Obvious: Reflections on Baptismal Ministry in the Episcopal Church,” Worship 66 (1992) 327-339.

E. Byron Anderson, “Performance, Practice and Meaning in Christian Baptism,” Worship 69 (1995) 482-505.

Thomas F. Best, ed., Baptism Today: Understanding, Practice, and Ecumenical Implications, series: Faith and Order Paper 2007 (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2008).

Philippe Bordeyne and Bruce T. Morrill, “Baptism and Identity Formation: Convergence in Ritual and Ethical Perspectives: A Dialogue,” Studia Liturgica 42 (2012): 154-175.

Catherine Dooley, “Liturgical Catechesis: Mystagogy, Marriage or Misnomer?” Worship 66 (1992) 386-397.

Donald Gelpi, Committed Worship: A Sacramental Theology for Converting Christians, 2 vol. (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1993).

Maxwell E. Johnson, “Back Home to the Font: Eight Implications of a Baptismal Spirituality,” Worship 71 (1997) 482-504.

Maxwell E. Johnson, “The Shape of Christian Initiation in the Lutheran Churches: Liturgical Texts and Future Directions,” Studia Liturgica 27.1 (1997) 33-60.

Maxwell E. Johnson (2001), “The Role of Worship in the Contemporary Study of Christian Initiation: A Select Review of the Literature,” Worship 75 (2001): 20-34.

Philippe Larere, Baptism in Water and Baptism in Spirit: A Biblical, Liturgical and Theological Exposition, trans. Patrick Madigan (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1998).

Michael Root & Risto Saarinen, eds., Baptism and the Unity of the Church (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998).

Kenneth Stevenson, The Mystery of Baptism in the Anglican Tradition (Morehouse Publishing Co., 1998).

Max Thurian and Geoffrey Wainwright, eds., Baptism and Eucharist: Ecumenical Convergence in Celebration, Faith and Order Paper 117 (Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1983).

David M. Thompson, Adult Initiation: Papers Delivered at the Conference of the Society for Liturgical Study, 1988, Alcuin / GROW Liturgical Study 10, Grove Liturgical Study 58 (Bramcote, 1989).

Victor Turner, "Betwixt and Between: The Liminal Period in Rites de Passage," in The Forest of Symbols (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1970), 93-111.

Susan K. Wood, One Baptism: Ecumenical Dimensions of the Doctrine of Baptism (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2009).

David Yamane and Sarah MacMillen, Real Stories of Christian Initiation: Lessons for and from the RCIA (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2006).



Revised: July 18, 2014

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  William Harmless, SJ