Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (College of Philosophy and Theology)

Schools and Centres

Philosophy and Theology

First Supervisor

Dr Rachelle Gilmour

Second Supervisor

Dr Mariusz Biliniewicz


In the last forty years, scholars have commonly referred to confirmation as the “sacrament in search of a theology.” While various works have offered a theology of confirmation in recent years, they have not employed an explicitly biblical method. In contrast, the early Church Fathers and ecclesiastical writers engaged an biblical method by employing a typological interpretation of scripture in order to understand baptism and the eucharist. In this sense, circumcision, the crossing of the Red Sea and the waters referred to in the creation narrative have been understood as prefiguring baptism; the Passover inaugurated by Moses in Egypt is understood to prefigure the eucharist, and it is at the Passover that Jesus institutes the eucharist. Confirmation however, though being understood to perpetuate the grace of the Pentecost event of Acts 2, has not previously been recognised as having any Old Testament prefiguration. Following the method of the early Church Fathers and ecclesiastical writers, this thesis argues that the events on Mt Sinai, which include the inauguration of the Feast of Weeks that culminates in Pentecost, do indeed prefigure the events of Pentecost in Acts 2 and, by reference to Pentecost, confirmation. Criteria for typological interpretation are developed and then applied to the text of Acts 2 to develop and support this argument. This approach opens up a range of biblical passages that have relevance to the sacrament of confirmation. It places confirmation in the context of the dynamic movement towards the fulfilment of the divine plan, and brings further clarity to the Spirit’s work at baptism as distinct from the Spirit’s work at confirmation. This, in turn, has implications for the age of the confirmand and the order of the initiation rites.

Included in

Religion Commons