Glorious Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist John
The son of Zacharias and Elizabeth, St. John the Baptist (or the
Forerunner) was related to Jesus whom he baptized and recognized as the
Christ. John is said to have been born at Ain-Karim, southwest of
Jerusalem, and nothing is known of his life until he began his public
ministry as a preacher on the banks of the Jordan c. 27 BC. He dressed
like an Old Testament prophet and is considered to have been the last of
them and the first of the Apostles. He ate locust and honey; his
preaching drew crowds, and he baptized many penitents. (Some modern
scholars believe he was a member of a proto-monastic community at Qumran.)
Andrew and possibly Peter, as well as the sons of Zebedee, were originally
John's disciples. John criticized the marriage of Herod Antipas to his
sister-in-law, Herodias, and Herod imprisoned him, probably at the
Machærus Fortress on the Dead Sea. Herod beheaded him at the
request of Herodias' daughter, whom Josephus identifies as Salome, after
the king had promised the girl anything if she would dance for him.
Herodias suggested the fulfillment of the promise. John was believed to
have been buried at Sebaste in Samaria. Julian the Apostate desecrated
the site and is said to have scattered the relics.
Karen Rae Keck
See also Theophany.
- Martyrdom and Relics:
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