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John the Baptist, Saint

  1. Florence Morgan Gillman

Published Online: 25 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470670606.wbecc1306

The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization

How to Cite

Gillman, F. M. 2011. John the Baptist, Saint. The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 NOV 2011


Details about the early years of John's life are known only from Luke 1:5–25; 39–80. The material is artfully embedded in Luke's infancy narrative in a diptych-like fashion in which the evangelist parallels the unusual origins and predictions about both Jesus and John. Luke records that John was the son of an aging couple, Zechariah of the priestly order of Abijah and his hitherto barren wife, Elizabeth, also of Aaronic descent (Luke 1:5–6). Once, as Zechariah offered incense in the temple sanctuary, the angel Gabriel told him Elizabeth would bear a son. He was to be named John and, filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb, he was never to drink either wine or strong drink. With this apparent directive that John was to be consecrated to the Lord by a Nazirite vow, the angel also foretold that John, acting in the spirit and power of Elijah, would prepare a people fit for the Lord.


  • John the baptist, Saint;
  • early years of John's life, Luke 1:5–25; 39–80;
  • John's apocalyptic preaching, banks of the Jordan