John the Baptist

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John the Baptist (Hebrew: יוחנן המטביל, Yoḥanan ha-mmatbil, Arabic: يحيىYahyá or يوحنا المعمدان Yūhannā al-maʿmadān, Aramaic: ܝܘܚܢܢ Yoḥanan)[1] (c. 6 BC– c. 36 AD) was an itinerant preacher[2] and a major religious figure[3] who led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River.[4] Most historians agree he baptized Jesus.[5]

John was a historical figure mentioned in each of the Canonical gospels, Aramaic Matthew and by the Jewish historian Josephus. [6] He followed the example of previous Hebrew prophets, living austerely, challenging sinful rulers, calling for repentance, and promising God's justice. John is regarded as a prophet in Christianity, Islam,[7] the Bahá'í Faith,[8] and Mandaeism. Some scholars maintain that he was influenced by the Essenes, who were semi-ascetic, expected an apocalypse, and practiced rituals conferring strongly with baptism,[9] although there is no direct evidence to substantiate this.[10]

John's baptism was a purification rite for repentant sinners, performed in "living water" (in this case a running river) in accord with Jewish custom. John anticipated a messianic figure who would be greater than himself.[11] Jesus may have been a follower of John.[4][12][13] Herod Antipas saw John as a threat and had him executed at his wife's request.[3] Many Christian theologians believe that the ministry of Jesus followed John's, and some of Jesus' early followers had previously been followers of John.[14] Both John and Jesus preached at times of great political, social, and religious conflict.

Accounts of John in the New Testament are not incompatible with the account in Josephus.[15] In the New Testament Jesus is the one whose coming John foretold. Herod has John imprisoned for denouncing his marriage, and he is later executed.[2] Christians commonly refer to John as the precursor or forerunner of Jesus,[16] since in the Gospels, John announces Jesus' coming. He is also identified with the prophet Elijah,[14] and is described by the Gospel of Luke as a relative of Jesus.[17]

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