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Who was John the Baptist?

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Quick Answer

John the Baptist is a major figure in several religions, including Christianity and Islam. He was a wandering preacher who played a major role in the story of Jesus Christ.

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Full Answer

John the Baptist was born to a priest of the Temple in Jerusalem named Zachary and Elizabeth, alternately either a friend or relation of Jesus's mother Mary depending on the Gospel. Elizabeth bore John at an advanced age after being visited by the angel Gabriel. The Bible says little of his young life other than that he went to the wilderness at some point to live as a hermit until he was 30. He then went to the district of Jordan where he traveled as a preacher and became known for absolving the sins of his followers through baptism.

John's relationship with Jesus varies between different gospels. In the Gospel of Mark, he told his followers that a new leader is coming, though he was not aware that it was Jesus. In the Gospel of Matthew, John recognized Jesus as the new messiah and expressed a sense of unworthiness at baptizing him. In the Gospel of Luke, John and Jesus were described as relatives. In the Gospel of John, he saw the spirit of Jesus descend from the heavens.

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