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.”  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!
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.
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.