John the Baptist

Discussion in 'Christianity' started by didymus, Apr 10, 2005.

  1. didymus

    didymus Well-Known Member

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    I have been focusing some attention on John the Baptist lately. His notoriety in Jesus' day seems to be greatly minimized. As some may know, there is still a following of John the Baptist today known as the Mandaeans. they live in Southern Iraq and still revere John as their leader and practice ritual bathing and baptism.

    Sometimes I wonder if John and Jesus were almost as a team since they preached a very similar message. Baptism, repentance and the coming kingdom of god. And at times it even seems that Jesus' preaching picked up momentum after John's imprisonment and culminated after his death.

    Mark 1:5 it says the whole judean country side and all of Jerusaem went to him to hear his message and be baptised. Jesus even went to him.
    John even had a following in Ephesus, Acts 19:3, they had knowledge of John's teaching only. This was some time after Christs death and is considerably far from Judea. His teaching was still growing years after preaching and the crucifiction of Jesus.

    John had disciples and taught them how to pray. Luke 11:1 Jesus taught his disciples to pray as John did. I wonder what John did with his disciples besides prayer and baptism. Traveled preaching the kingdom perhaps? How did his message reach Ephesus?

    Matthew 4:17 and Mark 1:4
    After hearing of John's imprisonment Jesus began to preach the kingdom. Did he take over for John?

    I'm still looking for evidence in the gospels but it appears that Jesus began to speak of his suffering many things after he heard of the death of John. Although this I'm not sure of.
     
  2. Faithfulservant

    Faithfulservant Well-Known Member

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    Isaiah 40:3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God.
    Malachi 3:1 "Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming," Says the Lord of hosts.

    Matthew 3:1-3 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.'

    Mark 1:2-3 As it is written in the Prophets: "Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You." "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.' "

    Luke 3:4-6 as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying: "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough ways smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'

    I just wanted to post these to show that John was the one that was sent to prepare the way of the Lord.
     
  3. Faithfulservant

    Faithfulservant Well-Known Member

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    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 Chronicles 24:10), and his mother, Elisabeth, was of the daughters of Aaron (Luke 1:5). The mission of John was the subject of prophecy (Matthew 3:3, Isaiah 40:3, Malachi 3:1 ). His birth, which took place six months before that of Jesus, was foretold by an angel. Zacharias, deprived of the power of speech as a token of God's truth and a reproof of his own incredulity with reference to the birth of his son, had the power of speech restored to him on the occasion of his circumcision (Luke 1:64 ). After this no more is recorded of him for thirty years than what is mentioned in Luke 1:80 . John was a Nazarite from his birth (Luke 1:15, Numbers 6:1-12) He spent his early years in the mountainous tract of Judah lying between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea (Matthew 3:1-12)

    At length he came into public life, and great multitudes from "every quarter" were attracted to him. The sum of his preaching was the necessity of repentance. He denounced the Sadducees and Pharisees as a "generation of vipers," and warned them of the folly of trusting to external privileges (Luke 3:8) "As a preacher, John was eminently practical and discriminating. Self-love and covetousness were the prevalent sins of the people at large. On them, therefore, he enjoined charity and consideration for others. The publicans he cautioned against extortion, the soldiers against crime and plunder." His doctrine and manner of life roused the entire south of Palestine, and the people from all parts flocked to the place where he was, on the banks of the Jordan. There he baptized thousands unto repentance.

    The fame of John reached the ears of Jesus in Nazareth (Matthew 3:5)and he came from Galilee to Jordan to be baptized of John, on the special ground that it became him to "fulfil all righteousness" (3:15) John's special office ceased with the baptism of Jesus, who must now "increase" as the King come to his kingdom. He continued, however, for a while to bear testimony to the Messiahship of Jesus. He pointed him out to his disciples, saying, "Behold the Lamb of God." His public ministry was suddenly (after about six months probably) brought to a close by his being cast into prison by Herod, whom he had reproved for the sin of having taken to himself the wife of his brother Philip (Luke 3:19) He was shut up in the castle of Machaerus , a fortress on the southern extremity of Peraea, 9 miles east of the Dead Sea, and here he was beheaded. His disciples, having consigned the headless body to the grave, went and told Jesus all that had occurred (Matthew 14:3-12) John's death occurred apparently just before the third Passover of our Lord's ministry. Our Lord himself testified regarding him that he was a "burning and a shining light" (John 5:35)
     
  4. didymus

    didymus Well-Known Member

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    faithful, where do you see that John's special office ceased after the baptism of Jesus? He clearly continued to preach and baptise after Jesus' baptism. They say he was locked up for his remark on Herod's wife, it could also have been due to his power in the area among the people. He had followers all the way to ephesus when Paul was around. How long after Jesus' death was that? There is still a group today in southern iraq that hold him dearly as their leader Mandaeans). And if his office ended after the baptism of Jesus why was John in in prison sending out his disciples to ask Jesus if he was the one to come or not?
     
  5. Faithfulservant

    Faithfulservant Well-Known Member

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    Its pretty simple if you use logic... Johns purpose was preparing the way for the King.. once the King arrived to take over His kingdom the messenger stepped back to allow Christ to do what He came to do.. He said it himself that one far greater was to come and that he wasnt worthy... See? :) Dont put John on a pedastal that he doesnt belong on..
     
  6. didymus

    didymus Well-Known Member

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    I'm just shaking the tree faithful to see what falls. There are alot of little gems in the Bible and I like to try and dig them up.
     
  7. miclason

    miclason miclason

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    John and Jesus were cousins, weren't they? ....John's mission was to prepare the way for Jesus, so people would be open to his teachings...
     
  8. Marcion

    Marcion Established Member

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    Going outside of orthadox teaching, some early christian movements saw John the Baptist as a Catholic interpolation to explain Messianic prophecy for Jesus. They thought the same for the Nativity, and quite a bit of other scenes from the Gospels. To the early churches of Paul, John the Baptist was seen as someone who never existed at all.

    Then by Feudal to Medieval times John the Baptist has an even stranger position among heretical teachings. The Bogomils and Cathars thought he was an evil angel, formerly being the prophet Elijah who was transformed by the god of this world, Satan, and taken up to his Heaven. He was sent back to earth in the form of a Baptist to stop Jesus from fulfilling his mission, and be the forerunner of the evil antichrist who is to come. weird huh? ;)
     
  9. didymus

    didymus Well-Known Member

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    John was a very powerful figure in those days. I think that some imagined him to be the messiah. perhaps he even etertained the idea at one point. it seems clear from the gospel accounts that Jesus' momentum and preaching picked up after the arrest of John and his subsequent execution.
     
  10. didymus

    didymus Well-Known Member

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    Just thought I'd dig this baby up again. :eek: It's been a while.
     
  11. chokmah

    chokmah Noachide

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    nevermind
     
  12. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    There is strong evidence (see my post on the Essenes) that John was in some way, if not directly, affiliated to the Essene sect of Judiasm, and certainly saw his mission within that context. His condemnation of the Pharisees and Saduccees accords with the Essene view.

    John the Apostle was a disciple of the Baptist who followed Christ. It is evident from Scripture that Christ never called the Baptist to follow him, yet his baptism is evidence of his endorsement of the Baptist's particular mission, and certainly God never abandoned Judaism.

    Today in the Catholic Church we celebrate the Presentation of the firstborn male child at the Temple, in accordance with Jewish Law. It was here that Simeon:

    "... took he him up in his arms (Jesus), and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel."
    Luke 2:28-32

    Which in many ways pre-empts the Baptist, although Simeon saw that Christ came to save all men, and not just the Jews.

    It is believed that St John's Gospel was written for an Essene audience, and there is strong suggestion that St Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews likewise was addressed to them.

    Many Essenes converted, and in Antioch established the pattern of Christian Ecclesiology according to their Essenic practice. Many more would have remained doctrinal Essenes and they might well have been in Ephesus. Certainly the Book of the Apocalypse, penned by John (or his disciples) at Ephesus, employ Essene as well as old Testament symbology, and bears many comparisons to Essenic apocalyptic literature discovered among the Qumran texts.

    The Bogomils and Cathari followed a gnostic deviation away from Essene doctrine on the question of the War between Light and Darkness with regard to the nature of the flesh. The Essenes saw the flesh (creation) as Good but Fallen; the Bogomils and Cathari saw the flesh as essentially evil.

    This latter view renders humanity's foundation as a 'person' primordially dualistic, composed of the light (soul) become imperfect, caught and imprisoned in the darkness (body); the orthodox Essene view (although expressed most dualistically) hold's humanity's foundation as one, the light of the soul corrupted in itself by sin which renders the body (the material manifestation of, not something other than, the soul) corruptible.

    The Baptists, the Judaic sect founded on John (not the Christian denomination) 'realises' Christianity within Judaism - it was witnessed as a Trinitarian event, the father's Voice, and the descent of the Holy Spirit and the body of the Son; the denomination realises Judaism within Christianity with its emphasis on Baptism and Justification ... just some ramblings...

    Thomas
     
  13. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    Considering that John the Baptist had connections with the Essenes, were the ideas about baptism essentially the same between the Baptist group and the Essenes? Why is the notion of a special baptism that will take away the sin of the world within both groups?

    Here is a quote talking about the Essenes and their practice of baptism:
    The Dead Sea Scrolls

    As for what the New Testament says about John the Baptist and the special baptism, the writer in the link quotes the following words spoken by the Baptist:

    "I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel" (John 1:31).

    Also, I was reading over verses 29-34, and then I noticed that John said:

    "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29)

    This ties in with the Essenes belief that a special "single spiritual baptism would abolish sin entirely. This special baptism is described in the same scroll in relation to a certain man who 'shall be plunged into the spirit of purification that he may instruct the upright in the knowledge of the Most High and teach the wisdom of the sons of heaven to the perfect of way. For God has chosen them for an everlasting Covenant and all the glory of Adam shall be theirs' (Ibid.).

    The Dead Sea Scrolls

     
  14. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist

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    Mikvah

    John also spoke about how his baptism was only the baptism of water, but there was also the baptism of Holy Spirit and of "fire."** He told Jesus, "I need to be baptized by You, and yet You come to me?" Matthew 3

    *{The baptism of "fire" not being literally immersed in fire, but more like a figurative burning up of the chaff.}

    He was speaking of the baptism of the Spirit. Jesus, upon whom John saw the Holy Spirit descend upon like a dove, taught about the need to forgive each others sins in order to have your sins forgiven. (That might not be quite what the Essenes had in mind regarding the Spiritual baptism that would abolish sins, but you never know.)

    Interestingly, Hebrews 6:2 also speaks about the doctrine of baptisms, in the plural.
     
  15. Dream

    Dream Well-Known Member

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    Hi Ahanu.

    When John was questioned about 'Who he was' he called himself the 'Voice' from Isaiah 40. You can infer from the gospels that whatever Isaiah 40 means, it got the 'Pharisees' upset with him. The thing to check is whether the Righteous Leader of the Essenes also said anything like that, and then you'd have a positive similarity between Essenes and the JBaptists. Did Essenes also refer to their righteous leader as the voice of Isaiah 40 ?

    Several other things you should look at:

    The differentation between Christian baptism and rumoured Jewish tevilam.

    Another thing is the reaction of the 'Pharisees' in the story to John's statements, and the Isaiah scroll that John quotes about himself. Why were they upset? Would they also have reason to be upset with the Essenes? It seems that as soon as John started to baptize this immediately inferred that he was claiming to be a prophet of some kind. That also matches with the fragments I've seen from the Essenes, where they talked about their 'Righteous leader'. Apparently a round of baptisms must be initiated by someone special, and apparently the Essenes thought they had found just such a person. That alone may not explain what all of the trouble was about, but it helps.

    It is difficult to tell just from the gospel description of John the Baptist, whether by 'Whole World' he meant all 12 of Israel's tribes or the whole, entire world as we know it. He may have literaly meant something else like time or an age. You'd have to check with an expert as to what he means when he says 'World'. Other than this, the Essene baptism as your text describes it sounds similar to the Johanine with one caveat: The Essene baptism sounds like it is definitely limited to practicioners of the rites within traditional Judaism. The concept of an inward spiritual or mental circumcision was always a staple of Judaism (Deut 10:16), so that was no new invention of the Essenes or of John either. The Essenes actually sound like a standard sort of Jew, only more ascetic.

    This verse you quoted: "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" seems much more inclusive, a more open membership, than the description of the Essene practice. It is a reference to the promise to Avram (Abram) that many would be blessed through him -- maybe the entire human race eventually. I can not explain the translational peculiarities, however this 'Taking away the sin of the world' in the NT likely refers to the 'Blessing' that was put upon Noah, Abvraham, etc. The blessing then is related to baptism for Christians. In the NT the blessing is referred to as the 'Cup of blessing'. ICor10:16 "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?" To a Christian, it is universal or 'Catholic' with certain nuances.
     
  16. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    I would like to put the whole text for viewing here. In reply to the priests and Levites who questioned his identity, John said: "I am the voice of one calling in the desert, 'Make straight the way for the Lord'" (John 1:23; Isaiah 40:3). Both groups use this scripture too. What is the scholarly opinion on the community who held the Dead Sea Scrolls?

    http://www.myjewishlearning.com/tex...le/Other_Ancient_Texts/Dead_Sea_Scrolls.shtml

    By the way, the link also contains information saying that the composers of the Dead Sea Scrolls were not Essenes, so I'm unsure who the group is, but it could be the Essenes, I guess. However, besides the Jesus group, I know that other Jewish communities were using the same scriptures.

    Another opinion is that this is the Essenes here.

    http://www.biblestudytools.com/Dictionaries/BakersEvangelicalDictionary/bed.cgi?number=T185

    Perhaps this is the Essenes. Going with that, they understood Isaiah 40:3 differently from the Baptist.
    <BLOCKQUOTE dir=ltr style="MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px">
    <SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt; mso-bidi-font-size: 10.0pt"><FONT size=2>The Qumran covenanters show that they were fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy by separating from the Jerusalem Jews and going out to the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord through study of the Torah. In contrast, the Gospel passages see Isaiah 40:3 as describing John the Baptist in the wilderness calling his audience to prepare for the arrival of Jesus. In these two different, self defining uses of the same scriptural passage, the Qumran covenanters view the Isaiah passage as fulfilled in themselves, while the Evangelists present it as about to be fulfilled in John’s witness to Jesus the Messiah.
     
  17. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    What I gather here is that the Essenes as a whole saw themselves as the ones "preparing the way of the Lord," not that the Teacher of Righteousness was "the Voice," while the Jesus group viewed the Baptist as the one taking on that role. Now, in regards to the teacher of righteousness, this is a description of the Essene view of him:
    Dead Sea Scrolls - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology

    The Teacher of Righteiousness could be "the Voice," though. I was skimming through this link full of quotes from various scholars:

    Preparing the Way
    At the moment I have to go, but I'll be looking more into it.
     
  18. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    I have found an interesting theory. How about the Essenes were following the Teacher of Righteousness, the prophet, who is like Moses, yet there are two Messiah figures, being John and Jesus, who are to come after this prophet?

    Hey, Dream, if you have the time, read the response to the second question in the link below, and then tell me what you think. After all, Jesus did see John as more than a prophet, and, if you continue to read what the student says in that link, he says that it is John that brings a new covenant. That one makes sense to me.

    Essays on John the Baptizer
     
  19. Penguin

    Penguin Well-Known Member

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    John the baptist could also have been the "teacher of righteousness" Who says that all the dates are exactly correct of when this and that happened. The similarities between John and the essenes dialogue is convincing in my opinion.
     
  20. Dream

    Dream Well-Known Member

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    I don't know much about the dates either. Actually we can read about the Essenes now from remnants of the 5 completely separate Dead Sea Scroll communities as well as writings of Josephus, Pliny the Elder, and somebody else....I think its Philo. The writings from one community, Qumran, have various dates *science&history-guessed*. The oldest Q-scrolls are said to be from around 300 BCE and the most recent 68 CE, (which is when the community center of Qumran fell to the Romans). This info comes from the booklet Scrolls From the Wilderness of the Dead Sea, circa 1965 courtesy of Her Majesty the Queen and His Majesty King Hussein of Jordan. Qumran has some clear (and little disputed) connections with the pre Christians or early Christians, because it has things like The Testament of Levi in it.

    Knowing of this connection or this pre-christian culture doesn't change Christianity at all, however it can enrich the Christian experience. Millar Burrows writes in his 1955 book "The Dead Sea Scrolls": "Christians should have no reluctance to recognize the anticipations of Christianity in the Dead Sea Scrolls or in other Jewish writings, if or when they really exist. The gospel was given as the fulfillment of what was already revealed. God, who spoke in many and various ways to the fathers by the prophets, spoke more clearly and fully in his Son...." He goes on to talk about John the Baptist and Jesus, etc. I really don't want to say much more about it until I've read some more. There is no ISBN in this book, but its Library of Congress number is 55-9645.
     

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