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JOHN THE BAPTISER

Born: c. 15 BCE, in a village that no longer exists, halfway between Jerusalem and Nazareth
Died: c. 35 CE, Machaerus in today’s Jordan

John, a solitary single man, evolved his ritual cleansing process for the benefit of Jewish people only.

  • Did it become an adjunct to normal Jewish temple practices?
  • Was he beheaded as the Bible suggests? If so, why when he was not a political creature.
  • How did it become a Christian ritual?

John the Baptiser Excerpt…

Jesus and James both asked lots of detail about my cleansing ritual and how I had derived it. I told them the whole story from the beginning right up until how I had travelled for the last ten years. They both looked at each other but didn’t say anything. At a subsequent meeting, Jesus asked if I would be willing to do the ritual for them.

‘Of course, I would.’

He and James wondered if the rest of the disciples would like to partake as well. They all had the conversation and decided that they would. Apart from hearing them speak, I hadn’t met any of them at this stage. Mary, Jesus’ wife, decided that thank you, but no, she didn’t feel the need.

There were maybe ten of us and we fixed up a time that suited everyone, and we took enough food and camping goods – they were totally used to this lifestyle anyway – and went back to my original place by the Jordan River.

I always made a point of treating everyone exactly the same for the ritual, just as an elder would in our temples. They were all people there to have that experience. But even with Jesus, I didn’t treat him or James any differently from the rest, when it came to the actual process.

Jesus said, ‘I’ll go first not because I’m the leader, but because I invited you all to come, so I feel I should lead the way.’

Quite humble really. When you got him on his own, he was quite unassuming. Not self-effacing but very understated as a person. Quietly confident about what he was doing.

They too wanted to sit under the tree afterwards and think about it and feel what it felt like. They had pretty much the same sort of reaction as everyone else.

They came as a group of mutually supportive friends. It was a calm, gentle and peaceful time. They were all pleasant men and knowing that Jesus and James were my cousins, it was nice to get to know them better. They were happy to have a rest so we stayed for three or four days.

Now, you could ask why Jesus needed to be cleansed of his sins? Well, Jesus was a mere mortal and, up until his end, he lived an ordinary human life. Neither Jesus nor the disciples were any different in that respect from any other person who came for the ritual.


THE PATH OF EARLY CHRISTIANITY

The central figure in these biographies, of course is Jesus. He was surrounded by the disciples (shown within the square). What is not obvious until you have read their stories, is how the links between the other storytellers extended before and after their lifetimes. The lines joining two people indicate that they actually met during their lives and in the course of spreading Jesus’ message.

Interrelationships between story-tellers