John the Baptist: A Witness against Pauline Dogma

· Religion
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John baptizing Jesus, by Guido Reni

The more we know and learn about John the Baptist, more apparent it becomes that Pauline dogma regarding atonement and resurrection of Jesus, had nothing to do with the Jewish faith or faith of John the Baptist and even Jesus himself. So, this post is dedicated to collect all the historical, Quranic and Biblical information about John the Baptist.

One obvious dilemma created by the person of John the Baptist is that a person of higher religious standing baptizes a person, who is junior to him.  So, if John the Baptist baptized Jesus, in spiritual realm he had a status higher than Jesus?  If this be true it takes away from the theory of Jesus being literal son of God!  It is strange that according to St. Paul a new religion is being launched in Jesus dying for the sins of humanity, yet both Jesus and John the Baptist are living the lives of Jewish prophets and both are circumcised.  According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “All four Gospels recognize in John the start of the Christian Era, and each in its own way tries to reconcile John’s precedence in time and Jesus’ acceptance of his message and of a baptism of repentance from his hands (elements suggesting subordination to John), with the author’s belief in Jesus as Messiah and son of God.” [1]  The myth making of Gospel of Luke knows no bounds, even in his mother’s womb John recognizes Jesus—also still in his mother’s womb—as his Lord.  If one is ready to believe this he or she has fallen into a trap where faith trumps reason, no matter what!  John the Baptist is baptizing Jesus and not declaring his faith in son of God, who has come to die for sins of humanity, including those of John the Baptist’s, if any, and his followers.  He continues with his ministry rather than yielding to the alleged son of God!

Paul Johnson writes in his book, the History of Christianity:

We can be almost certain that John the Baptist was, or had been, an Essene monk. He was recruiting not so much for the monastery but for the broader movement of the elite within the elite, carrying the cleansing and purifying process into the world outside, and thus hastening the apocalyptic moment when the war against the Sons of Darkness would begin.
The Baptist is thus the link between the general reformist and nonconformist movement in Judaism and Jesus himself. Unfortunately, in terms of actual historical knowledge, he is a very weak link. In some ways he is a completely mysterious figure. His function, in the history of Christianity, was to attach elements of the Essene teaching to a consistent view of Jewish eschatology. John was an impatient man, as well as a wild-looking one: the Messiah was not merely coming—he was here! The apocalypse was rolling fast towards the people, so now was the time to repent and prepare. And then, in due course, Jesus appeared and was identified. This is the first glimpse, admittedly a vivid one, we get of John. There is one other glimpse, equally vivid, some years later, when he fell foul of Herod Antipas and lost his head. The rest is darkness. The second most important person in the history of Christianity remains enigmatic. Yet the synoptic gospels, and still more the Gospel according to John, emphasize the importance of the Baptist in the mission of Jesus, He is the operative agent who sets the whole thing in motion. The three synoptic writers, and the editor of John’s gospel, working within a different stream of knowledge, are clearly using very powerful oral traditions, or even written documents, dealing specifically with the Baptist’s work. Somewhere, behind our sources, or behind the sources of our sources, there was once the whole story of the Baptist as related by a follower or lieutenant. But the earliest Christian historians selected only what they regarded as strictly relevant to their purpose, and now the rest is irrecoverably lost. Our only non-Christian source, Josephus, shows that John was at one time an Essene. His account of John’s teaching, such as it is, accords closely with the Qumran Manual of Discipline; and of course his actual appearance is directly related to Essene prophecies, which it resembles in important details, as did his prophecies and sayings. But John was also moving away from Essene concepts, in the direction of what became Christianity. His baptism ceremony, unlike the repeated bathing-rites of the Essenes, is a once and for all affair (but he was not unique in this). Secondly, John thought God would intervene, admittedly in wrathful mood, without the assistance of the Essene army and its war-plan. John was not militaristic. Most important of all, he had broken away from the absolute exclusiveness of the Essenes, teaching that God’s special favours were to be offered to the entire Jewish people, not just to the sect. John was not yet a Universalist, but he was moving in that direction. He was, in short, a carrier, bringing certain key Essene doctrines out of their narrow, bellicose, racist and sectarian framework, and proclaiming them in a wider world.
The logic of this analysis, then, is that the Baptist was in a sense Jesus’s teacher, and that the pupil improved on, expanded and transformed his master’s ideas. But it is at this point that our evidence breaks down. If anything, it points in another direction. John did not claim to teach the Messiah, merely to identify him; indeed, he specifically rejected any master-pupil relationship. The fact that Jesus was baptized by John does not imply any inferiority, submission or acknowledgement of higher wisdom. The trouble is that we do not know precisely what John taught. We do not know his history or education. We do not even know whether he had a complete theology or cosmology of his own, whether his eschatology was limited to the crude Messianism reflected in the gospels, or, as seems more likely, was elaborate and sophisticated. We do not even know his concept of Jesus’s status: it was obviously high, but how high—the key question? And anyway, how close were their contacts? How well did they know each other? How much, if anything, did either teach each other? Why did the Baptist make secret inquiries about Jesus’s mission and receive mysterious replies? The exotic story of the Baptist’s end, shorn of its romantic details, places him in a highly political posture and it is interesting that Herod Antipas did not like Jesus either. Was there, then, a political connection between these two religious innovators?
Our ignorance of the Baptist inevitably clouds our view of the uniqueness of Jesus. Indeed, the historical problem of the Baptist, baffling as it is, serves merely as an introduction to the much greater problem of Jesus. There can, at least, be absolutely no doubt about his historical existence. Unfortunately, the Antiquities of Josephus (published about AD 93), so useful about other related topics, is virtually silent on the point. Josephus was a Hellenized Jew, a Romanophile, indeed a Roman general and historian whose work received imperial subsidies. The manuscript chain coming down to us inevitably passed through Christian control. Since Josephus was strongly opposed to Jewish irredentism, or any other sectarian movement which gave trouble to the authorities, he clearly adopted an anti-Christian posture. But this has been tampered with. Thus, he mentions the judicial murder of James by the high priest Ananias in AD 62, and calls James the brother ‘of Jesus, the so-called Christ’, in a way to suggest that he has already given an account of Jesus and his mission. But what has actually come down to us is a passage which describes Jesus as a wise man, a lover of truth, much beloved by his followers; it accepts his miracles and resurrection and hints strongly at his divinity. The passage is plainly a non-too-ingenious Christian invention and what Josephus actually wrote has gone. Attempts to reconstruct it have not so far won general acceptance.[2]

References

1.  “Saint John the Baptist.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2012. Web. 02 Feb. 2012. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/305173/Saint-John-the-Baptist>.

2.  Paul Johnson. The History of Christianity. 1979. Pages 25-28.

4 Comments

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  1. Deoraj

    Paul: False Prophet? Or True Apostle?
    Rembrandt’s painting of Apostle Paul

    Rembrandt’s “Apostle Paul” courtesy of the National Gallery of Art

    Yahushua knew that when He returned to Heaven, Satan would seek to destroy the fledgling Christian Church. By ridicule, by force, by deceitfulness, Satan indeed tried to destroy what Yahushua had raised up.

    To meet the emergency, Yahuwah “gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of . . . Yahushua. (See Ephesians 4:11, 12.)

    The goal of this great gift was so “we [could] all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of . . . [Yah], unto a perfect man. . . that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” (Ephesians 4:13, 14)

    One wind of doctrine that has been growing in strength is the belief that Paul was a false apostle, brought in by the devil to destroy the new Christian faith. Paul’s warning in Acts is applied to him, as an imposter and apostate:

    “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.” (Acts 20:29, NKJV)

    Various phrases, once in a while a full text, from Paul’s writings are taken out of context and used to support the contention that he was a false apostle, brought in by the devil to wreak havoc on the “flock” of believers.

    These phrases, taken primarily from First and Second Corinthians accuse Paul of:

    Boasting;
    Stealing;
    Pride;
    Graft;
    Cursing;
    Speaking NOT on behalf of Yahuwah;
    Using trickery and deceit;
    Passing judgment upon others;
    Belittling Peter, James and John;
    Consulting with Satan;
    Holding an exalted opinion of himself;
    Injecting his own ideas into Scripture;
    Preaching “another” gospel;
    Giving faulty marriage counsel;
    Telling husbands to start living the single life again;
    Dictating “proper” hairstyles for men;
    Judging hungry, growling stomachs.

    These scattered texts and partial phrases are taken out of context and used as “proof” that Paul himself was one of the ravening wolves he warned against. Taking verses out of context should always raise warning flags in every mind.

    Such claims do not regard the context of the surrounding verses; they do not consider the environment in which Paul was raised nor the culture for which he was writing.

    The style of Paul’s writing is consistent with the literary style of the first century A.D. He used a “point-and-counter-point” style of reasoning that was commonly used by the Israelite scholars of his day.

    Rejecting the writings of Paul typically does not end with cutting his epistles from the Bible, which account for 14 of the 27 books of the New Testament. Consistency demands that if Paul is a false apostle whose books should be removed from the Bible, than the two books written by his co-laborer, Luke, must also be rejected because Luke clearly supports Paul as an apostle commissioned for Gospel work by Yahushua.

    But it does not stop there. If Paul were a deceiver whose writings must be rejected, then the authority of the other apostles is also called into question because the leading apostles, Peter, James and John, accepted Paul’s apostleship:

    “. . . when James, Cephas [Peter], and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.” (Galatians 2:9)

    The James who extended the “right hand of fellowship” to Paul, was not James, the brother of John, for he had already been martyred by that point. This James was the highly respected step-brother of Yahushua and author of the New Testament book of James.

    If Paul were a false teacher, than the trustworthiness of those who extended to him the right hand of fellowship, must also be questioned. The result is that eight more books of the remaining 11 books of the New Testament must be laid aside. These are:

    The Gospel of John
    First Peter
    Second Peter
    James
    First John
    Second John
    Third John
    The Revelation

    The only books remaining in the New Testament then would be Matthew, Mark and Jude. Nor are these unassailable.

    The gospels of Matthew and Mark support Peter and John as men commissioned by Yahuwah. But if Peter and John are untrustworthy for accepting Paul as one of them, then the judgment of Matthew and Mark is questionable for accepting Peter and John. The only book left in the New Testament is the single-chapter book of Jude.

    list of books that must be dismissed if one rejects the inspiration of Paul

    The real danger in setting aside the writings of Paul, however, is found in the motivation prompting such charges against this most prolific of the New Testament writers.

    The whole Hebrew economy revealed the plan of salvation in type and symbol. This was why, when Yahushua wanted to explain His mission the evening after His resurrection, “beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (Luke 24:27)

    Paul was raised and educated as a Pharisee. He was a member of the Sanhedrin. Israelite tradition demanded that any prospective member of the Sanhedrin have the Torah, the five books of Moses, entirely memorized by age 12.

    Paul’s education as a Pharisee made him very well-acquainted with the Law as well as what part was merely the traditions of men. This made him an extremely capable teacher of the gospel, rightly dividing between Truth and Tradition.

    Paul’s denouncement of the rite of circumcision has led some to reject his writings as a Law-breaker. Nothing could be further from the truth. Paul upheld the divine Law as “holy and the commandment holy and just and good.” (Romans 7:12)

    Circumcision is one of the statutes. Paul did not argue against circumcision as a statute. He simply clarified that it would not somehow earn one salvation.

    The entire thrust of Paul’s ministry was righteousness by faith. Clearly understanding that salvation is by grace alone, through faith, Paul’s writings must be understood in the context of his struggle against the heresy of salvation by works.

    All false religions are based on salvation by works, in one form or another. Even the Israelite religion had degenerated into a system of salvation by works under the traditions of the elders which Yahushua repeatedly rebuked.

    Righteousness by Faith (Galatians 5:5)Gentile believers, coming out of paganism, were easily lured back into the salvation by works taught by “Judaizers.” The Judaizers claimed to believe in Yahushua as the Messiah, but their influence was to return to the traditions of men as the means to salvation.

    They rejected salvation as a free gift received when one chooses to believe in the Saviour.

    Paul’s clarion call to the Gentile believers echoes down to truth-seekers today:

    “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of . . . [Yahuwah]: not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8, 9, KJV)

    Adopting the traditions of the Jews does not bring one salvation. Wearing tassels and head coverings does not recommend one to Yahuwah. Using Hebrew words that no one else can understand does not make one a better Law-keeper.

    Salvation by works is very alluring to fallen human nature. Adopting Jewish traditions, clothing or words can easily make one feel superior to those who do not adopt the same traditions.

    Whether the life-style choices are founded on Scripture or are merely Jewish tradition, the point is that salvation by works may feed the ego but will never earn anyone salvation.

    Law-keepers will be careful in diet and dress. But to use it as a standard by which to judge one’s merits, destroys the very essence of the Law which is Love.

    The Pharisees rigorously kept the do’s and don’ts of the Law, but neglected love, kindness, justice and mercy. Yahushua told them:

    “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” (Matthew 23:23)

    Salvation by works will never save anyone.

    “But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of . . . [Yahuwah] is evident, for ‘the just shall live by faith.’ ” (Galatians 3:11)

    Satan knows no one will ever be saved by works. He has led people to misunderstand Paul’s writings and reject the clearest teachings in Scripture of the vital doctrine: righteousness by faith.

    Here is the real secret behind the rejection of Paul. Paul’s clear understanding of the Law versus Tradition led him to reject the law as the means of earning one’s salvation.

    Paul taught that the Law should be kept. However, he understood it can only be kept by faith in Yahuwah.

    The only hope anyone has is to cease trying to work one’s way to Heaven. Accept that all the “works of the law” you have performed cannot save you.

    “All our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6)

    Righteousness by faith means Yahushua lives out His life in you. Your will is brought into perfect harmony to Him. Then and only then is the divine Law perfectly kept.

    Paul, an apostle divinely commissioned by Heaven to take the gospel to the Gentiles, has a message for all today who would be saved:

    I am crucified with . . . Yahushua: nevertheless I live; yet not “I,” but Yahushua lives in me: and the life which “I” now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the son of Yah who loved me, and gave Himself for me. (See Galatians 2:20)

    Do not be swayed by the varying winds of doctrine. Be rooted and grounded in Scripture.

    Accept the righteousness of Yahushua by faith. You, too, can experience the joys of salvation through faith in the merits of the Saviour.

    tree with roots grounded in bible

  2. Duncan Dugan

    We know more about John the Baptist and what he taught than is indicated here. Zechariah is told by an angel that his son will be a forerunner of the Lord. Wile Zechariah’s wife Elizabeth is pregnant, Mary, also pregnant, visits her and Elizabeth says “God has blessed you ABOVE ALL WOMEN….Who am I, that the mother of my Lord shall come to me?” So Elizabeth recognises the status of the baby that Mary is bearing (greater than her own), and says that her unborn child “leapt in the womb” in recognition. Zechariah then talks about John as heralding the way of the Lord.

    John, as an adult, says that he is preparing the way for the one who is coming after him. He says “After me is coming one whose sandals I am not even worthy to untie. I baptise you with water, but he will baptise with the Holy Spirit and with Fire.”

    It is wrong to say that the greater baptised the lesser, and that this proves John was greater than Jesus. It is nonsense! The person who performs the act of baptism has nothing to do with the act as a mystical rite. The person who truly baptises is GOD, and the person who tips water on the head and prays is merely God’s agent. The baptiser doesn’t need status, power or education; all they need is sincerity.
    When Jesus comes to John, John says, “It is me that should be coming to you!” But Jesus tells him to just get on with the rite of Baptism. At the moment of Baptism, the Spirit of God appears, like a white dove and a voice from Heaven says “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.

    John the Baptist is also described as pointing out Jesus to some of his own disciples and saying “Behold! The Lamb of God!” which signifies that he was the Messiah, or chosen one. John’s disciples immediately leave him and follow Jesus. Would they leave John for Jesus, if John was the great prophet and Jesus was just his follower? No.

    Saying that John, about whom we know very little, was a greater prophet than Jesus is one of the very cunning ways in which Islam denigrates Jesus and says to Christians “Oh Yes! WE follow Jesus, just as you do! But we know that he wasn’t really of so much importance; not like John the Baptist (whose teaching are not recorded).” By this means the teachings of Jesus, the example of Jesus’ life, and his crucifixion are played down.

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