John the Baptist

Lorenzo Ghiberti: Orsanmichele, Florence

John the Baptist is one of the New Testamentís most intriguing characters. There is no doubt that he was a genuine historical figure, as verified by the usually reliable Josephus Flavius. And yet there is much debate over the veracity of the gospel narratives, particularly the story of his birth in Luke. Even more controversial is the role of John in early first century Judea. Was he a precursor of Christ, which is the conventional view, or a rival? The argument rages on: after two thousand years, the answer is unlikely to be found.




The infant John

In the wilderness

Preaching and baptism

The baptism of Christ



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