Wednesday, December 02, 2009

John the Baptist

John the Baptist, Artist: CARAVAGGIO. Date: c. 1604John the Baptist (Greek: βαπτιστής baptistēs, From βαπτίζω (G907) which is to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk)) He is also called John the Baptizer or Yahya the Baptizer) and is regarded as a prophet by at least three religions: Christianity, Islam, and Mandaeanism. According to the Gospel of Luke Luke 1:36, he was a relative of Jesus. That he was a prophet is asserted by the Synoptic Gospels and the Qur'an (see also Islam). He is also commonly referred to as John the Forerunner/Precursor because he was the forerunner of Christ (Tiphshut). In Mandaic he is called Yihja jahane. Isaiah 40:3-5 is commonly read as a prophecy of John. Muslim tradition maintains that the head of John the Baptist is interred in the Umayyad Mosque. In later times it was rumored that the Knights Templar also had possesion of the head of St. John. According to Luke 3:1, John began his ministry in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, which would have been the year 28 or 29.

Flavius Josephus in Jewish Antiquities book 18, chapter 5, paragraph 2 records the following:
Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod's army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist: for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing [with water] would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away [or the remission] of some sins [only], but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness. Now when [many] others came in crowds about him, for they were very greatly moved [or pleased] by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion, (for they seemed ready to do any thing he should advise,) thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties, by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it would be too late. Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod's suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death. Now the Jews had an opinion that the destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a mark of God's displeasure to him. (William Whiston Translation)


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