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Old 07-17-2016, 05:15 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
Join Date: Jun 2009
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Posts: 11,503
OP is an interesting question for comparative religion, and for the closest religion, comparitevely, Judaism.

Theologically, I am not familiar with the sacrament's roots following St. John--that is, if the "anointing" imagery (the etymology of the Hebrew "Moshiach"/Messiah) or the more general imagery, anthropologically, of cleansing, from which anointment surely draws.

Nonetheless, the commandment of ritual cleansing and the manner of carrying it out--the mikveh (pronounced simply Mik-vah) is the pool itself--is, like so much of modern (Rabbinic) Judaism, first encountered more or less contemporaneously with the Gospel account.

Ultimately it winds up as a case of having your cake and eating it too: a pool (standing water) with the _idea_ and principle of running water--"running" water implicating refreshing, rejuvenating, and active participation of the forces of nature:

...Before the beginning of the first century BCE, neither written sources, nor archaeology gives any indication about the existence of specific installations used for ritual cleansing.[7][8][9] Mikvehs appear at the beginning of the first century BCE, and from then on ancient mikvehs can be found throughout the land of Israel as well as in historic communities of the Jewish diaspora. In modern times, mikvehs can be found in most communities in Orthodox Judaism.[dubious ] [sic!--Leo]

...A mikveh must be connected to a natural spring or well of naturally occurring water, and thus can be supplied by rivers and lakes which have natural springs as their source.[10] ... The water must flow naturally to the mikveh from the source, which essentially means that it must be supplied by gravity or a natural pressure gradient, and the water cannot be pumped there by hand or carried. It was also forbidden for the water to pass through any vessel which could hold water within it (however pipes open to the air at both ends are fine)[17]

As a result, tap water could not be used as the primary water source for a mikveh, although it can be used to top the water up to a suitable level.[16] To avoid issues with these rules in large cities, various methods are employed to establish a valid mikveh. One is that tap water is made to flow over the top of a kosher mikveh, and through a conduit into a larger pool. A second method is to create a mikveh in a deep pool, place a floor with holes over that and then fill the upper pool with tap water. In this way, it is considered as if the person dipping is actually "in" the pool of rain water.

Most contemporary mikvehs are indoor constructions, involving rain water collected from a cistern, and passed through a duct by gravity into an ordinary bathing pool; the mikveh can be heated, taking into account certain rules, often resulting in an environment not unlike a spa....

Source: Wikipedia, reformatted for clarity:]