John the Baptist in History and Theology
While the Christian tradition has subordinated John the Baptist to Jesus of Nazareth, John himself would likely have disagreed with that ranking. In this eye-opening new book, John the Baptist in History and Theology, Joel Marcus makes a powerful case that John saw himself, not Jesus, as the proclaimer and initiator of the kingdom of God and his own ministry as the center of God’s saving action in history. Although the Fourth Gospel has the Baptist saying, “He must increase, but I must decrease,” Marcus contends that this and other biblical and extrabiblical evidence reveal a continuing competition between the two men that early Christians sought to muffle. Like Jesus, John was an apocalyptic prophet who looked forward to the imminent end of the world and the establishment of God’s rule on earth. Originally a member of the Dead Sea Sect, an apocalyptic community within Judaism, John broke with the group over his growing conviction that he himself was Elijah, the end-time prophet who would inaugurate God’s kingdom on earth. Through his ministry of baptism, he ushered all who came to him—Jews and non-Jews alike—into this dawning new age. Jesus began his career as a follower of the Baptist, but, like other successor figures in religious history, he parted ways from his predecessor as he became convinced of his own centrality in God’s purposes. Meanwhile John’s mass following and apocalyptic message became political threats to Herod Antipas, who had John executed to abort any revolutionary movement. Based on close critical-historical readings of early texts—including the accounts of John in the Gospels and in Josephus’s Antiquities—as well as parallels from later religious movements, John the Baptist in History and Theology situates the Baptist within Second Temple Judaism and compares him to other apocalyptic thinkers from ancient and modern times. It concludes with thoughtful reflections on how its revisionist interpretations might be incorporated into the Christian faith.
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APPENDIX 7 The DayBaptists
APPENDIX 9 The Baptist in the Slavonic Version of Josephuss Jewish War
APPENDIX 10 Apocalyptic Belief and Perfectionism
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
APPENDIX 1 The Chronology of Johns Life
APPENDIX 2 Is Josephuss Account of John the Baptist a Christian Interpolation?
APPENDIX 3 Database by Source of Information about John the Baptist in the Canonical Gospels and Josephus
APPENDIX 4 Was John from a Priestly Background? ...
APPENDIX 5 The Others in Josephus Antiquities 18118 ...
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Abraham ancient Antipas’s argues Bāb Backhaus Bahāʾ Allāh baptismal ministry Baptist movement baptized biblical Brill century chap chapter Christian tradition church cleansing Day-Baptists Dead Sea Scrolls death Dibelius disciples early Christian Ernst eschatological Essenes example followers forgiveness of sins Fourth Evangelist Fourth Gospel Gentiles God’s hairy halakhic Hebrew Herod Antipas Herodias Historical Jesus Holy Spirit honey immersion impurity interpretation Isaiah Israel Jesus’s Jewish Johannes der Täufer Johannine John and Jesus John the Baptist John’s baptism John’s ministry Josephus Josephus’s Judaism Kings Klawans later Leiden linked literature Luke Luke’s Lupieri Mandean Marcus Marginal Jew Mark marriage Matt Matthew Meier Messiah Mishnah Old Testament passage Pharisees plant priestly probably prophet proselyte Pseudo-Clementines purity Qumran Qumran community rabbinic reference repentance repr righteousness ritual saying scholars Second Temple seems sources Studies Synoptic Synoptic Gospels Täufers Johannes theology Tosefta trans translation unclean University Press water rites wilderness καὶ