The Donatists’ repetition of baptism was one of the main charges brought against them by their contemporary Catholic critics. The theological issue at stake was very serious, and indeed rebaptism was hotly discussed in the Christian polemical writings of the period. However, this article argues that rebaptisms could not have been very frequent, either in the beginning of the schism or later, when they may have been occasioned by marriage, by moving to a place where the Donatists constituted the only or dominant community, sometimes by genuine religious conviction, and sometimes by coercion. The most interesting cases in which rebaptism was a component involved the conversions of clergymen from Catholicism to Donatism. For them, conversion-cum-rebaptism often was an occasion to advance through the ranks, but also to escape from the censures for their misbehavior. For their new church, it may have been a remedy for shortages of clerical personnel, but in the end, it was always a substantial coup from a propagandistic perspective, especially for the Donatists who inevitably were rebaptizing the ex-Catholic clergymen.


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pp. 46-64
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