John the Baptist

(‘Baptizer’, NRSV, Mark 1:4); his preaching preceded that of Jesus, who aligned himself with John's ministry. The gospels betray an increasing reluctance to say without qualification that John baptized Jesus (the fourth gospel does not mention such an act at all). They do not wish their readers to be in doubt that John was merely a forerunner, probably because for some time there existed disciples of John (Acts 18:24–8; 19:1–7) and it was important to establish a distance between the Messiah of Christian belief and the prophet who preceded him, as scripture had anticipated (Mal. 4:5). But it is clear that John's effect on the population was electric (Mark 1:15). He castigated the evils of his time: baptisms in the river, unprecedented in Judaism, offered the hope of salvation. John's rite was once for all, unlike the daily ritual washings at Qumran. Other differences existed between John and the Qumran community: he was essentially a public figure addressing all who came; they were a closed and austere sect. Nevertheless it is possible that John had been for a time a member of the community—he emerged out of the desert (Luke 1:80) to preach the coming of the kingdom. John's clothing, however, made of camel's hair (Matt. 3:4) and his leather belt were more in the prophetic style than that of the white garments of Qumran. His audacity in rebuking Herod Antipas (Mark 6:18) for a marriage illegal according to Jewish Law led to his imprisonment and execution in the fortress of Machaerus by the Dead Sea. Josephus [[➝ Josephus, Flavius]], however, gives a different reason for John's execution: Herod feared his popularity and regarded him as a threat to established law and order. John's activity by the River Jordan could have been regarded as a rallying point for apocalyptic plans of rebellion. The Iraqi Sabaean Mandaean sect regards John as the Saviour; baptisms are conducted in the river Tigris. A characteristic of this modern sect is their vigorous disapproval of deserters.

Dictionary of the Bible.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • JOHN THE BAPTIST — JOHN THE BAPTIST, the forerunner (prodromus) of Christ. There are two main sources of data regarding the life of John: the Gospels, the earliest of which were in circulation during the latter part of the first century, and Josephus Jewish… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • John the Baptist — n. Bible the forerunner and baptizer of Jesus: he was killed by Herod: Matt. 3 …   English World dictionary

  • John the Baptist — Saint John the Baptist John the Baptist by Bartolomeo Veneto 16th century Prophet, Preacher, Forerunner, Martyr Born c. 5 BC Died 3 …   Wikipedia

  • John the Baptist — (c. 4 bc–ad 28)    Missionary and Saint.    John was the son of the priest Zachariah and Elizabeth, a relative of the Virgin mary. In the Gospel of luke, his birth was seen as a miracle since his mother was beyond the age for bearing children.… …   Who’s Who in Christianity

  • John the Baptist — noun (New Testament) a preacher and hermit and forerunner of Jesus (whom he baptized); was beheaded by Herod at the request of Salome • Syn: ↑St. John the Baptist • Topics: ↑New Testament • Instance Hypernyms: ↑hermit, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • John the Baptist — noun A New Testament prophet who baptized Jesus. He was executed by Herod Antipas at the request of Salome. In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand …   Wiktionary

  • John the Baptist — (fl. 1st cent.)    Palestinian religious leader, forerunner of Jesus. He preached repentance, proclaimed the coming of the messianic age, and practised baptism of those who accepted his preaching; Jesus was among those whom he baptized. He was… …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • John the Baptist — John the Bap|tist, Saint (?12 BC ?28 AD) in the New Testament of the Bible, a religious teacher who told people that Jesus Christ was coming, and who ↑baptized Jesus in the River ↑Jordan …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • John the Baptist — John′ the Bap′tist n. bib the forerunner and baptizer of Jesus. Matt. 3 …   From formal English to slang

  • John the Baptist —    The forerunner of our Lord. We have but fragmentary and imperfect accounts of him in the Gospels. He was of priestly descent. His father, Zacharias, was a priest of the course of Abia (1 Chr. 24:10), and his mother, Elisabeth, was of the… …   Easton's Bible Dictionary

  • JOHN THE BAPTIST —    the forerunner of Christ, who baptized with water unto, or on the confession of, repentance, in anticipation of, and in preparation for, the appearance in the immediate future of One who would baptize with the Spirit and with fire; his fate is …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

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