The Jordan River
The Jordan River by David Bjorgen via Wikipedia

Here’s a slight update to a Think Free entry of 2011. I didn’t add too much other than a new reference to a non-canonical account of John. For anyone interested in Early Christianity, I recommend the very accessible The Story of Christianity, Volume 1 by Justo L. Gonzalez and its audiobook format, read most expertly by Michael Kramer. It’s not overloaded with detail but not too simple either. Thanks to the Toronto Public Library, I’ve been enjoying both formats at the same time!

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For Christians, John the Baptist (1st century CE) is the last messenger in a long tradition of Old Testament prophets and a pivotal figure linking the old and new covenants between God and mankind.

Living off wild insects and honey, the unshaven and long-haired John ranged through the countryside, full of the holy spirit, telling of the coming of the Messiah and the need for repentance.

John baptized believers in the river Jordan. He also baptized Christ at the latter’s insistence, while recognizing himself not to be fit to untie the strap on Jesus’ sandals.

John practiced and preached in the Qumran area. And according to the Gospels and the Jewish historian Josephus, he was beheaded by sword by Herod Antipas and his daughter Salome (21 BCE – 39 CE). Before his death, John had already been imprisoned by Herod for being critical of his lifestyle.

He is mentioned in all four canonical Gospels and the non-canonical Gospel of the Nazarenes.

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