In the comments a few weeks ago Al posted a link to a new (to me) treatment of the so-called vicarious baptism passage by James Rogers. Finally I have a few moments to share my thoughts on it.
At the foot of
1) The answer to the first question rests in the difficulty of the text. For
2) This gives us a clue to the second question. If it is the Judiazers who are receiving baptisms for the dead, and not the Corinthians, then the ritual in view is not a vicarious baptism at all (a baptism on behalf of), but something perhaps more Jewish: something like the ritual washing described in Numbers 19 (a baptism because of). A cleanliness ritual, a washing required of Jews after coming into contact with a dead body, for instance, is contextually credible.
The argument of course depends on interpreting the phrase “baptism for the dead” to mean “baptism because of the dead,” but the Greek word for “for” is huper, and can plausibly mean either “for the benefit of” or “on account of” depending on the context.
If the dead are not raised, what about those who are baptized after coming into contact with a dead body?
My objection is perhaps best phrased as a question: What would the Judaizers’ practice of ritual cleanliness have to do with a bodily resurrection of Christ? And if Paul is speaking only of a metaphorical death, just what type of resurrection was Jesus’?More later...