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John the Baptist, Saint

Saint John the Baptist, d. c.AD 28–AD 30, Jewish prophet, considered by Christians to be the forerunner of Jesus. He was the son of Zacharias and Elizabeth, who was also a kinswoman of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and his birth was miraculously foretold. After spending some time in the desert, he received a divine call to preach repentance to the people of the Jordan valley in preparation for the Messiah. He baptized his followers, and he baptized Jesus, whom he believed to be the Son of God. John's vigorous preaching and great popularity enraged the aristocracy, and he offended Herodias, wife of Herod, by rebuking her publicly. At her instigation and at the direct request of her daughter Salome he was beheaded. (Mat. 11.1–19; 17.11–13; Mark 6.14–29; Luke 1.5–80; 3.1–20; John 1.15–36.) John is also mentioned by the Jewish historian Josephus. Christians have long venerated St. John the Baptist; he is the only saint besides the Virgin Mary whose birthday is celebrated: June 24. The feast of his beheading is Aug. 29.

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John the Baptist

John the Baptist. A Jewish prophetic figure at the time of Jesus mentioned by Josephus and frequently in the gospels. He preached on the banks of the Jordan demanding repentance and baptism in view of God's impending wrath (Matthew 3. 11). He denounced King Herod Antipas and was beheaded by him (Mark 6. 16–29). Jesus was among those baptized and it is possible that he belonged originally to John's circle (cf. John 3. 22–4). Feast days, 24 June (nativity; six months before Christmas according to Luke 1. 37) and 29 Aug. (death, or ‘decollation’).

In Islam, Yaḥyā is mentioned as a prophet (6. 85, 19. 14 f.), and the prayer of his father, Zakariyya, for a child in his old age (21. 89) is held up as an example of prayer being answered.

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John the Baptist, Saint

John the Baptist, Saint (active 1st century ad) Prophet who heralded the appearance of Jesus Christ and the coming of the kingdom of God. The son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, he was born in Judaea six months before Jesus. John baptized Jesus in the River Jordan, recognizing him as the Messiah. Herod Antipas beheaded John, after Salome asked for his head as a reward for her dance.

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